INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (October 9, 2022) – What started as the best race of the 2022 season for RealTime Racing (RTR) ended with a string of setbacks that ultimately forced the team to park the No. 43 Acura NSX GT3 Evo 22 with 90 minutes remaining. A seventh-place finish in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS finale did not reflect the effort put in by the team at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
RTR qualified sixth in Pro-Am for the eight-hour race, but because of a penalty carried over from Sebring, starting driver Michael Cooper was near the back of the grid. This did not phase Cooper, who carved through the field and was able to lead before handing the car over to Erin Vogel.
“It was a good first two stints getting up to the lead,” Cooper said. “The car was working really well, and we were just trying to get out ahead of everyone else and hopefully catch a yellow early on.”
Vogel was able to keep the car in the top five until she was hit and knocked off track by a Lamborghini. Thankfully there was no damage and Vogel was able to carry on without losing too much ground.
“It was really exciting to watch Michael drive pretty much from the back of the field to first in class,” Vogel said. “Unfortunately, when I got in the car, there were a lot of other class cars that had drivers who were faster than me, so I lost a couple of positions there. Then I got punted by a car that wasn’t even in our class, which put us back another couple of positions.”
It was a small bump in the road, but the race wasn’t producing nearly as many full-course caution periods as RTR needed to stay on the lead lap. This issue was further exasperated by two drive-through penalties for pit lane violations during the middle part of the race.
Still, the team stayed the course and Taylor Hagler’s pace was mitigating the damage.
“I think I was doing pretty good,” Hagler said. “I was running consistent 1:25’s out there and we were working our way up and closing the gap. We were on our own lap, but it was still fun to go out there and run.”
Hagler was in the car for her final stint when she had a spin that could have been inconsequential, but the Mercedes behind her dove in the wrong direction and made heavy contact with the left front of the car.
“I got a little loose in the corner, spun to the left and they decided the best place to go was to the left and they hit our car,” Hagler said. “That was pretty much it.”
RTR took the car back to the garage for repairs. After replacing most of the front end, the car was back out with Cooper behind the wheel and one hour left in the race.
“The car got hit right before my final stint and the crew put it back together,” Cooper said. “I started to feel a vibration because the splitter was coming apart. We tried to come in and fix it again, but with 20 minutes left and 50 laps to the next car behind us we just called it a night because it wasn’t worth the risk.”
When the checkered flag came out, RealTime was classified as seventh in class.
“We were still going along pretty well but another car hit us when Taylor was driving, so we ended up parking it a little early,” Vogel said. “The crew did a great job getting the car back together. It looked like it was going to be okay, but in the end, some pieces we couldn’t replace were starting to come apart.
“I want to thank RealTime Racing for an entire season of fun and for the hard work that they’ve put into this program for us,” Vogel added. “I’ve enjoyed working with them so much. I wish we had been able to end the season strong. We were so close! Thank you to ShiftUpNow and Bell TechLogix for their support. Thanks to GT World Challenge as well for another great season. I always enjoy being in this paddock.”
RTR ends its 30th season of World Challenge competition with five top-five finishes.
Now begins the preparations for 2023, which begins February 24 at NOLA Motorsports Park.