Ruman and Machavern lead practice sessions at Sebring as Trans Am commences 50th Anniversary
March 4, 2016
Saunders, Kleeman and Flynn set the pace as new production classes make debut
SEBRING, Fla. [March 4, 2016] – The Trans Am Series officially commenced its 50th Anniversary Season with a pair of practice sessions today, Friday, March 4, 2016, at its historic birthplace: Sebring International Raceway. In total, 78 cars and five classes participated in two practice sessions with Amy Ruman, Dillon Machavern, Lee Saunders, Brian Kleeman and Conor Flynn leading their respective classes to kick off the 2016 Trans Am Championship.
The TA2 class took the track first, beginning yet another round of Trans Am pony wars. The 35-car class was led by second year driver Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, who topped the charts with an impressive 2:08.458 lap time. If Machavern can replicate that time in qualifying, it will stand as a new track record by a considerable two-second margin.
Machavern was followed in the session by defending TA2 class Champion Gar Robinson, driver of the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, with a time of 2:09.643, second best in the record TA2 field. Machavern’s Mike Cope teammate, Tony Buffomante, driver of the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, completed the session’s top three with a time of 2:09.806.
The class’ top five was rounded out by Tommy Archer, in the No. 54 Archer Brothers Chevrolet Camaro, with a time of 2:10.279 and last year’s Championship runner up Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw Dodge Challenger, with a 2:10.309 lap. Lawrence Loshak, Jordan Bernloehr, Shane Lewis, Kevin Poitras and Tony Ave all also placed in the top 10 for the class’ practice session.
In TA, Amy Ruman began the 2016 Trans Am Championship in the same fashion she finished it, on the top of the charts as she led TA, TA3, TA4 and TA5 class session. Ruman, from behind the wheel of her Championship winning No. 23 McNichols Co. Chevrolet Corvette, set the fast lap of the 23 TA class participants, a 2:03.148.
Ruman managed to edge out a familiar face for the top spot of the practice session, with 2015 Runner-Up Paul Fix, in the No. 50 StopFlex.com/TheCarCoach.com Chevrolet Corvette, turning a 2:03.893 lap of his own, claiming second in the practice session.
Florida native and long-time Trans Am competitor RJ Lopez, in the No. 06 Optica Lopez/Republica Brewing Chevrolet Corvette, was third quick in the session with a 2:04.273 lap. He was followed by veteran Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon/Lamers Ford Mustang, and Vincent Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds/ VA Electrical Chevrolet Corvette, who completed the TA class top five with times of 2:05.158 and 2:06.031, respectively.
The recently restructured TA3 class was led by Lee Saunders, a 2015 Champion in his own right and driver of the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper ACRX, who turned a 2:15.855 lap. The time was just enough to edge out Randy Mueller, driver of the No. 0 Epic Motorsports BMW M3, for the class’ top spot who was just behind with a 2:16.400 lap of this own.
Jason Berkeley, in the No. 67 BMW Management Chevrolet Corvette, was third in the TA3 class with a time of 2:18.773, while Michael Camus, in the No. 08 Epic Motorsports BMW M3, and Mel Shaw, in the No. 22 Bay Commercial Group/BETA Chevrolet Corvette, completed the class’ top five with times of 2:19.423 and 2:24.652, respectively.
The TA4 class was led by rookie Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Ford Mustang, who turned a 2:18.667 lap to lead the production based class. Steve Kent, Jr., a veteran of the Series and driver of the No. 00 XLR7Diesel Trucks Ford Mustang, was second quick with a time of 2:19.078.
Robert Korzen, in the No. 88 CorteX Racing/Elite Classics Ford Mustang, was third quick with a time of 2:22.345 while Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 TREMEC/SKF Chevrolet Camaro, and Mike Geldart, in the No. 43 Driving4Education Ford Mustang, completed the top five with times of 2:22.509 and 2:22.665, respectively.
Trans Am also featured the TA5 class with several Porsches competing on the class’s designated racing slicks, led by Connor Flynn, driver of the No. 95 Irish Mike’s Racing Porsche 997, who turned a 2:16.076 lap in his Trans Am debut. He was followed by Mark Boden, in the No. 47 Fall-Line/Calypso Porsche 997, and Tim Kezman, in the No. 14 Fall-Line/Calypso Porsche 997, with times of 2:16.120 and 2:17.436 to complete the top three—a trifecta of rookie drivers.
The Trans Am Series will return to the track at Sebring International Raceway for a series of qualifying sessions, commencing with TA2 at 5:00 pm ET, TA at 5:20 and TA3/TA4/TA5 at 5:40, to determine the order of tomorrow’s races.
Both races will consist of 27 laps around the 3.74-mile road course, with TA2 racing at 11:00 am and TA/TA3/TA4/TA5 competing at 4:50 pm. Both races will constitute Round 1 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship.
Fans can keep up with all the action throughout the weekend at www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam and on Twitter at @gotransam.