Promise for Hanley Motorsports and Parker Thompson After Opening Weekend in Pirelli GT4 America
SONOMA RACEWAY, CA
Hanley Motorsports performed admirably in their Pirelli GT4 America debut at Sonoma Raceway. Entering the weekend, the newly assembled team and No. 999 GR Supra GT4 EVO of Parker Thompson and Daniel Hanley expected to challenge the front of the field. The pair showed great pace throughout the season-opening weekend despite challenges that ultimately prevented them from having a major impact on the results sheet.
In just his second career race weekend, rookie driver Daniel Hanley showed good progression. The nineteen-year-old trimmed lap time in every session as he learned the Sonoma Raceway road course and GT4 race car. In Race 1 Qualifying, Hanley finished 28th out of forty-three entries.
With extensive experience and a record of winning in multiple series, expectations were high for Hanley’s codriver and coach, Parker Thompson. In Friday’s second practice session, the Canadian was 3rd fastest among all competitors. In Qualifying on Saturday afternoon, he earned a tenth-place grid position for Race 2.
In races on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, the Hanley Motorsports team faced significant adversity. In the first contest, Daniel Hanley experienced a collision while making a routine-looking overtake early in the race. Damage to the driver’s front corner on the white, red, orange, and yellow Hanley Motorsports GR Supra forced the team to retire.
Thompson had a strong performance early in Race 2. By the halfway point, he had worked his way forward to 6th overall (2nd in the Silver category). When the pit window opened for the series-mandated driver changes, the team immediately called Thompson into pit lane to hand the No. 999 off to Hanley.
Critically, the call to make that pit stop came with a full-course-yellow (FCY) imminent, and if the team did not enter the pits before that FCY, the pit stop and driver change would not meet Pirelli GT4 America regulations. When Hanley took over and resumed action on course, the team believed they had completed a good stop. Hanley advanced through the field and into the lead position, holding that position through to the checkered flag.
Following the contest, series officials demonstrated that the team did not enter the pits prior to the full-course-yellow. In turn, Hanley Motorsports accepted a 50-second penalty for the violation. The final result will show them in the 30th position.
“Three weeks ago, we didn’t have a car, and we didn’t have a crew. I’ve been incredibly proud to work with Rob Hanley and Toyota Gazoo Racing North America to start Hanley Motorsports and launch this Pirelli GT4 America campaign. Ryan, Geoff, Neil, John, Dan – Everyone on our team has been absolutely amazing!
In Race 2 at Sonoma, we saw an opportunity to get the No. 999 to the front and earn a win. We made our mandatory driver change as soon as the pit window opened following the restart. We made that stop knowing a FCY was imminent, but we thought we could get in before the window closed. That aggressive, split-second decision-making is what it takes to win races. I love that we put our day on the line and went for a win on our opening weekend. From our perspective, it almost paid off. It was close, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Reviewing after the race, our team accepts the assessed penalty. We’ll carry on and bring our best effort to NOLA later this month.”