The fastest overall driver in the Maserati Trofeo World Series Friday at Sonoma was ALEX POPOW of Venezuela, with a lap of 1:45.880/85.18 mph/137.09 kph, driving No.17. This time was set in the second of two thirty-minute sessions. In the morning, he was third behind RENAUD KUPPENS of Belgium in No.99 at 84.92 mph/136.66 kph and Italian drivers GIUSEPPE FASCIOLO and GIORGIO SEMAGIOTTO in No.7 at 84.85 mph/136.56 kph
The Maserati Trofeo Series is a single-marque racing series. This weekend running the new 2013 Maserati Gran Turismo. It runs six races worldwide, and Sonoma is Round Five.
Popow road races a lot in the United States, driving in the American Le Mans Series, winning the 2012 ALMS PC Driver’s Championship before the season is over. He also races in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, and Ferrari Challenge Series. On 17 August 2012 he raced both series in two countries – ALMS at Road America in Wisconsin and Grand-Am at Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal, Canada. The personable driver also raced one NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen this year.
Four Maserati Trofeo World Series cars racing this weekend at Sonoma are flying the American flag – the only time these cars will have American drivers.
Fastest overall of the Yanks were local drivers, JOHANNES van OVERBEEK of Oakland and MIKE HEDLUND of Woodside, in eighth position Friday afternoon, driving around their home track at 83.90 mph/135.02 kph. The race track has a GoPro in-car camera in their car. The two are teammates on the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari 430 full-time in select Grand-Am races. Van Overbeek runs full-time with SCOTT SHARP in ALMS.
The next fastest Americans were the ever-popular PATRICK DEMPSEY driving with GREG TRACY. Dempsey is a well-known American actor who also races sports cars and owns teams in ALMS, Grand-Am and Indy-Car. Tracy is an Extreme racer/stunt driver with Team Hot Wheels. Dempsey extolls Tracy’s talents. “Just Google Double Loop” he says. Tracy made the Guiness Book of Records at the 2012 X Games.
As the two drivers hadn’t raced before at Sonoma, they took turns driving, swapping every five laps.
Other American drivers include OWEN KRATZ, originally born in Zimbabwe but now is from Texas, and JONATHAN BECKER of Los Angeles. Kratz comes from the Cooper’s Tires Prototypes Lite Series run by Grand-Am, and is driving No.51. Becker got the call Wednesday night to come drive No.22. Both Kratz and Becker will be racing solo.
Becker said he had wanted to run the Sonoma Maserati race, but was told three weeks ago there were no available cars. Then two days ago he was called, asking how soon could he get to Sonoma. Becker currently runs in the Ferrari Challenge Series. He said “The Maserati series is fun. The car definitely understeers, but I can’t help but like it.”
Dempsey is in the Maserati Series’ Guest’ car. He recently got the call and jumped on it. The sports car racer never really raced at Sonoma – it never worked out to race on the wine country circuit.
Dempsey said he’s having a lot of fun. “Maserati has a racing history and heritage. It’s nice to see the effort to get it back on the track.”
He’s run in the sister series, Ferrari Challenge, and is seeing a lot of friends from his Ferrari race at Le Mans. Dempsey said the Maserati series is well-organized and good value – getting to travel all over the world, race on great tracks and have a good time. “And the cars have a great sound.”
Dempsey finds Sonoma to be a challenging and technical race track. He loves it. “Turn Nine chicane is a very tricky.”