RAFA Racing Brings Home Season-Best Top Five Finish From Misano in GT4 European Series

Lancaster and Martinez Drove to P5 in Pro-Am, While Lawrence and Hepworth Qualified on the Overall Front Row Before Bad Luck Shortened The Day

MISANO, Italy (May 20, 2024) – In a weekend of highs and lows, the RAFA Racing Team ultimately escaped Rounds Three and Four of the SRO GT4 European Series powered by RAFA Racing Club with a front row qualifying effort and a season-best finish from two different McLaren Arturo GT4s. “Race As Family Always” was on full display for the American team who receives overseas technical assistance from Greystone GT.

Cameron Lawrence qualified he and Jem Hepworth’s No. 81 RAFA Racing Club McLaren Arturo GT4 on the front row of the 49-car field for Sunday’s second race of the weekend. In Saturday’s race, the duo drove from 30th on the grid to 17th overall and 13th in a very competitive Silver class with a rough and tumble run through the field.

Sunday’s qualifying effort had spirits high for the entire team, but the moment was short-lived. Failed alternator belts meant the McLaren didn’t fire when it was time to head to the grid, and despite an attempt at an emergency repair and starting from pit lane, Lawrence didn’t get started on time. The team kept working, and he was able to run four laps later in the race, turning the second-quickest lap of the race to prove the car’s speed.

With the No. 81 essentially out of the race, Sunday’s attention went to the No. 812 RAFA Racing Club McLaren of Rafael Martinez and Jon Lancaster. Martinez started the race 38th overall and 12th in the Pro-Am class.

Martinez kept pace with the field, improving class positions during his stint before handing the car to Lancaster during the mandatory pit stop. Lancaster had a deep deficit to overcome, but after a safety car period bunched the field he was 34th overall, ninth in Pro-Am and could see his competitors on the track.

The final 17 minutes of the 60-minute race were spectacular for Lancaster and the No. 812 McLaren. Lancaster picked up an additional 20 positions on the overall field, including four in the Pro-Am class, finishing 14th overall and fifth in class. That was an improvement from Saturday’s 26th overall finish, ninth in class.

Depsite the rollercoaster of ups and downs throughout the weekend, both RAFA Racing McLarens showed a step forward in pace from the season opener. Hepworth and Lawrence were the second-finishing McLaren in the field on Saturday, and Lancaster and Martinez took the same position during Sunday’s race.

RAFA Racing Team’s GT4 European Series season resumes in just over a month, June 27-30 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. It’s four-car domestic team is in action this week at the Texas-based team’s home track of Circuit of the Americas, where it continues to chase a Porsche Sprint Challenge North America championship in the Cayman Pro-Am class. Martinez, along with Ian Porter, Paige Morales and Caroline Candas, are the team’s drivers in that championship.

RAFA Racing Quote Board

Rafael Martinez, Driver, No. 812 McLaren Arturo GT4: “It’s a bittersweet feeling for me and I am sure for the whole team. Our car performed extremely well, I showed a lot of progress getting much closer in speed to the top of the AM drivers in the Pro-Am class, and Jon showed his class making up ground to deliver our best result of the season. Coming into this year I am not sure I would have set expectations as high for only the second round of the Championship so it is just very telling how much all of the work we have put in has brought us along. Unfortunately the No. 81 car has continued to have mechanical issues and it really hurt us Sunday after Cameron put us in an incredible spot at P2 to start. What could have been a special day for the team turned out to be a big deflating moment when we had to basically retire the car with an alternator issue before the race even started. Having had both cars finish in the top 15 and potentially on the Silver Class podium would have been incredible, but that’s racing. We have Round Three at Spa in a month to look forward to, we must get the cars right and hope to come away with a good result there!”

Cameron Lawrence, Driver, No. 81 McLaren Arturo GT4: “The weekend was a big improvement from Paul Ricard. The team and drivers all had more pace and confidence going through the weekend. Our first race wasn’t perfect but we moved up nicely and had a decent result. Race two was our chance to push for our first podium but luck wasn’t on our side after losing two alternator belts. We’ll be stronger and ready for the next round at Spa.”

Jem Hepworth, Driver, No. 81 McLaren Arturo GT4: “It was an interesting weekend, but there are a lot of positives for sure. My qualifying wasn’t amazing, but Cameron was great to get second. I got my lap deleted for track limits, so that was frustrating for me. From practice and into race one, we showed we have the pace to be at the front of the grid. Today was a really, really hard one to take because we were ready to give that one a shot. It’s a real shame, but at least we know we’ve got the pace and we can take that to Spa. We just have to look forward now and hope we can get a little bit of luck.”

Jon Lancaster, Driver, No. 812 McLaren Arturo GT4: “I’m really pleased in general. Everything across the board, on track and off track, we’ve all put some effort in to really progress things and we have done that. I think it shows on track with Rafa’s performance and the general car performance, both cars have been better in general feel and car drivability. Everything has just been a good step forward. Now it just shows the potential that Rafa has and we have to keep that going. He’s fully committed to doing that, and I’m fully committed to helping him. The team is fully committed to giving him the tools to that, we just have to keep it going. I’m super pleased with my second half of Sunday’s race as well, that’s always fun to do. Bring on Spa! Hopefully we can take a few more steps, start a bit further up and walk away with our first bits of silverware.”

About RAFA Racing Club:

RAFA Racing, utilizing the motto “Race As Family Always,” is a motorsports club and race team founded by and made for high-performance auto drivers, supporters, and fans of all types. Started by Rafael Martinez, the Club aims to create a space for high-performance car enthusiasts to enjoy like-minded individuals, network and share ideas on and off the track, and bond as one team with a common interest. The RAFA Racing Team made its debut in 2023 with a runner-up finish in the McLaren Trophy Europe Series, and expands that footprint to include Porsche Sprint Challenge North America and SRO GT4 Europe in 2024. The Club’s off-track presence can be felt on social media and beyond, including YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and at RafaRacing.Club.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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