Hanley Motorsports Withdraws from Pirelli GT4 America Event at VIR after Confusion and Drama

Jun 18, 2023

Alton, VA

Hanley Motorsports faced unique challenges with Pirelli GT4 America this past weekend at VIRginia International Raceway. After a string of events, including a crash in practice and a double pole position, the team withdrew from the event.

Following victory in the series last month at Circuit of the Americas, Hanley Motorsports continued to demonstrate a strong presence in the field when practice sessions began at VIR on Friday morning. Parker Thompson and Daniel Hanley showed great pace around the iconic road course, with the No. 999 GR Supra GT4 EVO marking times in the top three. With their spirits high, the team was dealt a significant blow when Daniel Hanley left the track in the high-speed Turn 14 during Practice 2. That incident left the team’s primary car unusable and sidelined young Daniel.

After consulting with the series, Parker Thompson took the wheel in Qualifying sessions for both Race 1 and Race 2. Thompson continued to demonstrate the team’s strong pace, earning the pole position for both contests. The team was caught off guard when officials invalidated his qualifying times despite earlier assurances from the series and a formal announcement of his achievement. The penalty came in response to a previously identified issue with the backup car’s performance monitoring systems.

After withdrawing from the event, Team Principal Robert Hanley issued the following statement:

We experienced a very difficult situation Friday evening with the loss of our primary car in Practice 2 (6 pm) in a scary accident in T14 at VIR. Once it was clear Daniel had suffered no major injuries, as a team, we made the decision to move forward with racing our spare car.

We informed series leadership of our decision at approximately 9 pm Friday evening. In that initial communication, we addressed if it was possible for Parker to complete both stints, as well as the requirements to transition to our spare chassis. We began to receive initial direction within the hour, which then resumed at approximately 5 am Saturday morning.

The primary issue became the installation of the series required electronics. We would be required to pull them from the crashed car and install them in the spare car. The caveat being that the track and the series withheld access to our crashed primary car behind a locked gate. There was significant confusion and lack of accountability from the series in regard to the status of the car and when it would be released and returned to the team. Additionally, there was significant confusion and lack of accountability from the series if the required series logging parts had been removed from the crashed car, and if so, who had possession of them.

In the end, we received the needed parts approximately fifteen minutes prior to qualifying. We were not able to complete installation of all the required parts and were told by a series official to go ahead and qualify under the unique circumstance that the series could acquire data through other means. Once qualifying was complete, the series official who directed us to move forward and complete qualifying chose not to honor his prior verbal commitment to the team. After hours of trying to work with numerous series officials to find a reasonable solution, it became very clear that nobody within series leadership was willing to make a decision and left us with our only option being to start at the back of the field.

In light of our experience of the first two days of the event, collectively as a team, Hanley Motorsports made the decision to load up and head home rather than comply with what we feel is an unreasonable and unjust position by the series.