ST Racing makes its 24H SERIES debut at this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA, with Harry Gottsacker and Jason Wolfe – champion and runner-up respectively in (deep breath) this year’s GT4 America Series SprintX West Pro-Am Cup – set to compete as part of a five-strong driver line-up for the Canadian entry. Unsurprisingly, all eyes are on the GT4 top spot at the Circuit of the Americas…
Harry and Jason, you’re both entering your first Hankook 24H COTA USA in November. What expectations do you have ahead of the race itself?
Harry: “I am really looking forward to my first 24H SERIES race at COTA. This is a home race for me, and one that I have been looking forward two since the ST Racing team asked me to join their line-up. We are rookies in the 24H SERIES, but I think we will he able to fight for the podium in our first endurance event as a team.”
Jason: “I’m very excited to be getting back to COTA, especially for the 24-hour race! I think the driver lineup we have going into the weekend is definitely capable of bringing home a very good finishing position, and that’s what I expect us to be able to achieve.”
What can you tell us about your previous experience at the Circuit of the Americas, and in terms of a racing challenge, how does it compare with other tracks you’ve driven in North America?
Jason: “Samantha [Tan, team boss] and I raced together at COTA at the beginning of this season and were able to gather pretty good data to bring back with us. While I’m sure the track conditions will be a bit different in November, I think we’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect. As far as the challenges of COTA goes, in the BMW, the trick will be getting the front end to last as long as we’ll need it to. For an endurance race COTA is perfect, in my opinion: the long, wide corners will make for a relaxing, yet hopefully intense race!”
Harry: “COTA is a very unique track compared to others in North America as it is designed for Formula 1 competition with tons of run-off room. It has become one of my favorites and I have collected wins and podiums in GT4 competition throughout the years at the facility. I am expecting a full 24 hours of close competition because that is what the layout at COTA offers. I’m hoping some local knowledge will give us an advantage!”
There’s a wide variety of GT4 machinery entered for this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA. Given your experience, how well do you feel the BMW M4 will equip itself against the likes of Audi, Ginetta and Mercedes-AMG at COTA?
Harry: “This year has been great for me, being able to move back and forth between the Hyundai Veloster N TCR and the BMW M4 GT4. Both cars get their lap times in different ways, and I’ve really expanded my skills throughout the season as we have fought for championships. It makes it easier to have two great teams behind the scenes putting in the work to have success.”
Jason: “Obviously every car has its strengths and weaknesses, but I think our BMW M4 will be competitive at COTA due to the longer radius corners and a lot of high speed, though it may struggle in the tighter bits trying to keep the tires on as long as some of the other cars. All in all though, I think we’ll have a car to go for the win.”
At COTA, you’ll both be partnering with John Boyd, Anthony Lazzaro and, of course, Samantha Tan. Is there any additional pressure on a driver when the team owner is sharing driving duties, or is there an even greater temptation to demonstrate just how quick you are behind the wheel?!
Jason: “Driving with Sam will be just another day! We’ve been sharing a car all season and work really well together. We tend to like the same setup characteristics, which is huge for a long race like this. I’m excited to be joining the rest of the crew as well because I know they are all very impressive behind the wheel and more importantly are reliable!”
Harry: “We have been working with Samantha and Jason all season and have a great relationship. It is impressive what Samantha has built around her in this team. I wouldn’t say there is any extra pressure in running with the team owner as the job is the same for me every time I get on the track. My goal is to put in competitive laps, improve our track position, and give the car over to my teammates in the same shape it was when we started! I’m also really happy to have Anthony and John join us as I know they will be fast and give us a complete package. They know the team and it will be really plug-and-play from the first session at COTA.”
*This year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA takes place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on 15-16-17 November 2019. Further details available on 24hseries.com