Veteran racer Ian James came from behind and then fought off the late challenge of 18-year-old Harry Gottsacker to capture the GTS SprintX race for Team Panoz Racing Saturday at Portland International Raceway in the 58th Rose Cup Races featuring the Pirelli World Challenge presented by Honda Racing/HPD in 90-degree heat.
James, a recent GTS Sprint race winner at Road America, chased down the polesitter Gottsacker with his No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4 in teaming up with Matt Keegan to win their first GTS SprintX race of the year in the Round 7 60-minute contest at the historic 1.97-mile, 12-turn road course in the Delta Park portion of Portland. Gottsacker, driving the No. 69 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1, recorded his second runner-up finish in 2018 after a second-place showing at COTA.
Gottsacker survived some wild scrambles at the start and in the middle of the 40-lap main event before attempting to fight off James’ late-race heroics. At the checkered flag, the James/Keegan combination defeated the single-driver effort of Gottsacker by 0.357 seconds.
“In this Pro-Am format, you are only as good as your teammate and Matt proved himself with the fastest guys at the start of the race,” said James, a six-time GTS Sprint race winner in 2017. “That set me up for a good stint. I got behind the SIN CAR with Harry. I didn’t see any real opportunities to get by him. He is very fast. But he caught up to some slower traffic and I was able to seize my opportunity and got by him. If I didn’t get that traffic, I think he had me today. But you have to make the most of those chances and we won with it.”
“I got hit a bit at the start of the race but the car was strong and great throughout the race,” said Keegan. “This is a great track. I love racetracks like this. People designed these kinds of tracks around some trees and other landscape. These tracks have so much character. You win races here by getting out of the corners well and running a strong, consistent pace. We have a great team who provided a strong race car for us. We owe it to those guys too with this win.”
Completing the podium for the Pro-Am class Saturday were former PWC series champions Lawson Aschenbach and Andy Pilgrim in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. Aschenbach, a four-time GT Sprint race winner this year, is seeking his sixth Pirelli World Challenge championship in 2018.
Finishing out the top five in the GTS SprintX event at PIR were the other Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, the No. 11 of Tony Gaples and Michael Cooper, the reigning GT SprintX champion, and currently GTS SprintX point leaders James Sofronas and Alex Welch in the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS.
Taking the top honors in the GTS SprintX Am category Saturday were Randy Mueller and James Clay in the No. 3 EPIC Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 in a superb drive through the field to defeat current GTS Am class point leader Drew Staveley in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 and the ST Racing pair of Aurora Straus and John Miller in the No. 36 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4.
“The last time I was at Portland was in Touring Cars with World Challenge so it’s great to be back and win as well,” said Clay. “It was a good race for us as Randy drove an awesome first stint. We were a little frustrated earlier before the race, but this was the best car we have had this weekend. We knew we had the pace and we just needed to drive the car up through the field. The Am class was very tough today with many clusters of cars in several areas. It was a real dogfight at times and everyone kept it clean.”
“After seeing Turn 1 here, I knew that the start could be diabolical and that is what happened,” said Mueller. “I just slowed to get through that Festival of Turns (Turns 1 and 2). I got bumped in the back and it sent me into the car in front. I was able to clear everyone and pick off some of the cars in front. We nailed our pit stop today too and that helped us. It’s great to get the win.”
Placing fourth and fifth Saturday in the GTS SprintX Am division were veteran racers Mike Hedlund in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Audi R8 LMS and Preston Calvert in the No. 51 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4.
Sunday’s GTS SprintX 60-minute event will start at 11:55 a.m. PDT and can be viewed live on http://www.world-challenge.com and the Pirelli World Challenge YouTube page, as well as being audio broadcast on SiriusXM Satellite Radio (channels 383/983).
1,1, Pro/Am,Keegan/James, Team Panoz Racing,,,Panoz Avezzano GT4,40,Running,1:00:44.455,
2,2, Pro/Am,Harry Gottsacker, Racers Edge Motorsports,,,SIN R1,40,Running,1:00:44.812,0.357
3,3, Pro/Am,Pilgrim/Aschenbach, Blackdog Racing,,,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,40,Running,1:00:56.845,12.390
4,4, Pro/Am,Gaples/Cooper, Blackdog Racing,,,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,40,Running,1:01:04.433,19.978
5,5, Pro/Am,Sofronas/Welch, GMG Racing,,,Audi R8 LMS GT4,40,Running,1:01:09.091,24.636
6,6, Pro/Am, Raphael/McAleer, Classic BMW,,,BMW M4 GT4,40,Running,1:01:12.910,28.455
7,1, Am,Mueller/Clay, Epic Motorsports,,,BMW M4 GT4,40,Running,1:01:27.364,42.909
8,7, Pro/Am,Carter/Holton, Compass Racing,,,McLaren 570S GT4,40,Running,1:01:29.628,45.173
9,2, Am, Drew Staveley, Ian Lacy Racing,,,Ginetta G55,40,Running,1:01:29.639,45.184
10,3, Am, Straus/Miller, ST Racing,,,BMW M4 GT4,40,Running,1:01:34.925,50.470
11,4, Am,Mike Hedlund, Flying Lizard Motorsports,,,Audi R8 LMS GT4,40,Running,1:01:35.903,51.448
12,8, Pro/Am,Fidani/Marcelli, Pfaff Motorsports,,,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,40,Running,1:01:39.689,55.234
13,9, Pro/Am,Kranz/Piani, Muehlner Motorsports America,,,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,40,Running,1:01:39.784,55.329
14,5, Am,Preston Calvert, Team Panoz Racing,,,Panoz Avezzano GT4,40,Running,1:01:48.806,1:04.351
15,10, Pro/Am, Maxwell/Buford,PF Racing,,,Ford Mustang GT4,40,Running,1:01:51.504,1:07.049
16,6, Am, Frank Gannett, Ian Lacy Racing,,,Ginetta G55,40,Running,1:01:56.887,1:12.432
17,11, Pro/Am, Pesek/Gallagher, PF Racing,,,Ford Mustang GT4,40,Running,1:01:57.553,1:13.098
18,12, Pro/Am, Fassnacht/Szymczak,Murillo Racing,,,Mercedes-AMG GT4,40,Running,1:02:02.509,1:18.054
19,13, Pro/Am,Tan?WittmerST Racing,,,BMW M4 GT4,40,Running,1:02:07.538,1:23.083
20,7, Am,Grahovec/Ohmacht, Classic BMW,,,BMW M4 GT4,39,Running,1:00:48.718,1 LAP
21,8, Am, McAleenan?O’Keefe, Motorsport USA,,,Maserati Grand Turismo MC GT4,39,Running,1:01:02.908,1 LAP
22,9, Am, Jason Bell, GMG Racing,,,Audi R8 LMS GT4,39,Running,1:01:06.069,1 LAP
23,10, Am, Liefooghe/Schmitt, Stephen Cameron Racing,,,BMW M4 GT4,39,Running,1:01:16.032,1 LAP
24,11, Am, DeBoer/Gibbons, TRG,,,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,39,Running,1:01:43.466,1 LAP
25,12, Am,Nakato/Peterson, Rearden Racing,,,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,39,Running,1:01:44.441,1 LAP
26,13, Am, Strom/Jorgensen, Classic BMW,,,BMW M4 GT4,38,Not Running,1:03:22.880,2 LAPS
27,14, Pro/Am, Pesek/Allegretta, PF Racing,,,Ford Mustang GT4,37,Running,1:00:45.804,3 LAPS
28,14, Am, Keith Jensen, Muehlner Motorsports America,,,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,27,Not Running,44:21.759,13 LAPS
29,15, Am, Jeff Burton, Rearden Racing,,,Audi R8 LMS GT4,27,Not Running,44:22.010,13 LAPS
30,16, Am, Mark Pavan, Racers Edge Motorsports,,,SIN R1,23,Not Running,38:59.761,17 LAPS
31,17, Am, Nicolai Elghanayan, MarcoPolo Motorsports,,,KTM X-bow,21,NC,1:00:47.224,19 LAPS
32,18, Am, Mark Klenin, KPR,,,McLaren 570S GT4,8,Not Running,11:07.585,32 LAPS
33,15, Pro/Am, Lewis/Robinson, Robinson Racing,,,Chevrolet Camaro,3,Not Running,10:46.658,37 LAPS