SKI Autosports’ O’Connell grabs GT America win and points lead

SKI Autosports’ O’Connell grabs GT America win and points lead

Posting a P2 finish in Saturday’s race, SKI Autosport stepped up to P1 in today’s second race as Johnny O’Connell celebrated the start of his 40th season of professional motorsport and leaving Sonoma Raceway with the GT America championship lead.

Today, O’Connell brought his Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II home in a closely contested second position but disqualification of the #50 in post race inspection, handed the win over to SKI Autosports and O’Connell.

The Sonoma event was disrupted early, with massive track repairs needed when new pavement began breaking apart during Wednesday’s testing. Kudos go to the Sonoma Raceway and SRO America staff for making quick and thorough repairs, although the extensive track work meant the loss of practice on Thursday and Friday.

Saturday morning, O’Connell put his Audi on the front row, qualifying second for the race later that afternoon. Although there was some shuffling during the race, O’Connell held serve, finishing second.

The real excitement came in today’s second race where much passing, several penalties and great battles ensued throughout the pack. Starting fourth based on lap times from Race 1, O’Connell used his experience with 10 minutes remaining to move up to second. After initially getting blocked by a lap car, the SKI Autosports racer pounced to move from fifth to second in only two corners as three of his rivals traded paint in front of him.

However, the excitement didn’t end with the checkered flag as in post race inspection, the #50 AMG was disqualified for a weight infraction giving the race win to O’Connell.

“I am thrilled with our results this weekend.  The team did an amazing job setting up our new Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II for its first races.

“Johnny obviously liked his car, moving through the field to cross the finish line in P2 today.  Post race disqualification of the #50 moved us to P1.

“My daughter Lauren was with us this weekend to see what her inheritance was being spent on.  (The team’s name, SKI Autosports, stands for ‘spending our kid’s inheritance’)  Johnny told her she was our good luck charm.  I think he was right.”

Next up for SKI Autosports, Long Beach Grand Prix, April 20-21.

“Johnny is a street course master, especially on the Long Beach circuit.   We accomplished what we set out to do in our first race weekend with the new car and are excited about the rest of the season,” said Hussey.

Johny O'Connell

“Sometimes you catch a lucky break. Although we finished second on the race track in a very tight finish… the car Ross (Chouest) was driving was found to be under weight, which gives us the win. I’m happy for the points… but also hope Ross is proud of how he raced and how he drove. I’ve had wins taken away…. It happens.

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of everyone at Ski Autosport. Tiny team with a lot of talent. Everyone is hungry to do our best. Today was only our fifth day with the car and I’m confident as we learn more we will get stronger

“Long Beach is up next, it’s a circuit I’ve had great luck at in the past. Everyone knows that I love street circuits and winning Long Beach is rocking chair equity. So fingers crossed.

“As always thanks to all my friends and the team for supporting me, Ken and Melissa in particular. I may be a bit older … but trust me… still hungry.”