The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli headed to Sonoma Raceway for the 2nd stint of their West Coast swing after leaving Laguna Seca last weekend. With another top 15 finish, driver Michele Abbate was very excited to head to her favorite west coast track.
“I absolutely love everything about Sonoma Raceway and I have had some great moments here in the past. I earned a podium finish in the 2018 SCCA National Runoffs in the GT1 category and in 2020 I made history as the first female to earn a podium finish with the Trans Am series in the TA2 category. I think this is my most anticipated race of the year just because of how much I love this track”, Michele shared.
In test session 1 Abbate showed really great pace in the 40+ car field; posting a time of a 1:41.1 putting her in the top 18 of the field. For official practice 1 she improved her time by 1.2 seconds faster, staying within the top 25 of TA2.
Unfortunately the car produced a low oil pressure alert during some sections of the track. The team was working feverishly on resolving the issue, but unfortunately Michele was unable to make her qualifying run in the #30 Ghost Energy TA2 Mustang. Fortunately, title sponsor Ghost Energy was on-site at the track and her #30 TA2 Camaro was available. Abbate opted into taking the Camaro out for a last chance effort, but unfortunately with the wrong gear in the car she was unable to post a competitive lap time.
Thankfully through determination and perseverance the BC Race Cars team worked to get the oil pressure issue fixed. The Mustang was ready for battle after a morning hardship lap. With the switch back to the mustang chassis from qualifying, Michele would have to start last out of the 44 car field.
The strategy for the race was to have a good balance of aggression for attack but also to preserve the car to have something competitive at the end of the race. When the green flag dropped Abbate went to work fast and determined. With an incredible drive, Michele was averaging a car per lap as she worked her way through the field with high speed and late brake passes. She had passed 19 cars, finding herself in P24 before disaster struck on lap 27 of the 37 lap race.
The leaders of the race were approaching Abbate, and she ran wide to leave room for a clean pass, but the yellow came out for a disabled car into turn 7. Unfortunately, Abbate stayed wide through 7 and could not see the immobile car and had nowhere to go but straight into it.
After a very impressive and hard charging run, Abbate was forced to retire from the race after the impact due to damage with a provisional finish of P37 out of 44.
“This was a real heart breaker for us; we were running such a strong, strategic race, and doing so well. I was able to gain a ton of experience for setting up clean passes and I think everyone saw our efforts today. Not the result we deserved, but I will take what I’ve learned this weekend and continue to apply it to the rest of our season. The BC Race Cars team did an awesome job getting me to the green flag and I am also very thankful to have had the trackside support from the Ghost Lifestyle and Ghost Energy family! I will put my head down and get to work so we can continue our progress as we head to Lime Rock Park”, Michele said.
Tune into the CBS broadcast of the race on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, May 8 at 5:30 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation that night at 10 p.m. ET. TA2 returns to the track May 27-30 with the Trans Am Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park.