The Southeast region of the National Auto Sport Association descended upon Road Atlanta the weekend of June 5-7. The German Touring Series featured marks from three different manufacturers, and GTS was represented in the Thunder group with GTS3 through GTSU cars and in the Lightning group with GTS1 cars.
GTS1 featured a close battle between Patrick Laughton’s Audi A4 and Larry Helm’s Porsche 944. Laughton and his Audi took the win both days, but the margin of victory on Sunday dropped from 15 seconds on Saturday down to 3 seconds on Sunday. Helms, in his Porsche, dropped 2 full seconds from his fastest time on Saturday and was consistently faster on Sunday to make this a battle for the top spot.
In GTSU, running unopposed, David Richardson and his Porsche 997 Cup car started from the final spot on the grid Saturday and Sunday. By doing so, he went on to win the Sunoco Hard-Charger award, by driving himself from last to a top five overall finish both days. The Thunder group featured a split start both days, with GTS starting in the second group to take the green, so even though Richardson has an impressive car that out-matched most of the field, being able to run through most of the cars out there clean and in only about 25 minutes of green-flag racing was an exceptional achievement in a car that is very new to him.
GTS3 saw only one car entered with Phillip Franz and his E36 M3 running solidly on Saturday. He took the win both days despite breaking a lower control arm bearing, which came off and punctured a hole in the oil pan. With quick reactions, he pulled his BMW off the track before he did any real damage to the car and the engine. He was able to complete nine laps to the leaders’ 14, so he came away with first-place points.
GTS4 featured a battle between a seasoned veteran and a fresh-out-of-competition-school rookie. Bob Hahnemann and his Porsche 951 turbo took the win on Saturday and Sunday, driving a fast and clean race both days. Jimmy Scott’s BMW E46 SMG M3 had an issue with the second throttle position sensor located underneath the intake plenum, but with some help from some guys around the paddock, his own team and Joshua Hoffman, he was able to make the race Saturday. On Sunday, with a car that worked well all day, he was able to qualify and mix it up with Hahnemann.