Ian James (Panoz Avezzano GT4) claimed victory in the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, following a thrilling last-lap pass on Spencer Pumpelly for top honors in Saturday’s Grand Prix presented by CrowdStrike.
The 50-minute single-driver sprint race was halted by a red flag for an accident involving Nicolai Elghanayan’s MarcoPolo Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4. The restart resulted in a dramatic nine-minute shootout to the finish.
Pole-sitter Pumpelly (TRG Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport) had taken over the lead just moments prior to Elghanayan’s accident when Jade Buford’s PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 ran wide entering Turn 1.
Behind, James’ red-white-and-blue Panoz made a late charge to pull alongside Pumpelly as the white flag flew. The Englishman then managed to hold the inside line through Turn 1, emerging in the lead in dramatic fashion.
James crossed the line just 0.696s over Pumpelly to give Team Panoz Racing its first victory since the passing of team owner and legendary motorsports figure, Dr. Don Panoz.
Gar Robinson (Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R) filled out the podium, finishing third following a strong run for the second-generation driver. Michael Cooper, debuting a McLaren 570S GT4 from Blackdog Speed Shop, finished fourth.
Buford, who led the opening 22 laps of the race, finished seventh in GT4 Pro.
In GT4 Am, Alan Brynjolfsson emerged from the wild final restart to claim his first win as a solo driver in the Park Place Motorsports Porsche.
Brynjolfsson, who teamed with Trent Hindman for victory in the second GT4 America SprintX race at Circuit of The Americas last weekend, passed Preston Calvert’s Panoz for the GT4 Am class lead moments after the final restart.
Calvert wound up third in class after a battle with Tony Gaples’ Blackdog McLaren, Gaples finishing second in his first race driving the team’s new 570S.
Class pole-sitter Jarett Andretti (Andretti Autosport McLaren) started strongly, but tangled with Ian Lacy’s Mustang on lap 15, backing into the wall and sustaining rear-end damage. this brought out the first full-course caution of the race.
Race 2 for Pirelli GT4 America Sprint is scheduled for Sunday at 11:25 a.m. ET. Tape-delayed coverage will air on CBS Sports Network.