Vesko Kozarov (SprintX West Am) in the No. 91 Rearden Racing Audi R8 he shared with Jeff Burton scored their first overall win of the Pirelli GT4 America SprintX season on Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.
The No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes AMG of Christian Szymczak (SprintX West Pro-Am) led the field to the green flag with the late evening sun setting, but 15 minutes in, Kozarov passed Szymczak and quickly gapped the field.
“I’m super proud of Jeff [Burton] to hang on to the car with some great drivers behind him to pull away and take the win. The car is a bullet and Jeff brought it home,” said Kozarov.
The first safety car appeared after Preston Calvert (SprintX Am) was spun by Matt Travis (SprintX Pro-Am) in the No. 47 NOLASPORT Porsche at the Turn 7 hairpin, ending the No. 51 Team Panoz Avezanno’s race. The championship-leading No. 47 machine faced a drive through penalty for avoidable contact. It was a quick full course caution, however, with the race going back to green with 38 minutes remaining.
After the mandatory pit stops for driver changes, a second safety car was called with 18 minutes to go after the No. 17 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR of Derek Deboer (SprintX West Am) made major contact with the Turn 8 tire barriers. Deboer was able to walk away from the incident under his own power.
The race went back to green with eight minutes remaining with Gregory Leifooghe (SprintX Pro-Am) in the No. 19 Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 pushing past the No. 34 Kenny Murillo-driven Mercedes for second at Turn 2. Leifooghe will start Sunday’s Race 2 from pole after posting the fastest race lap of 1:49.446.
While battling for fourth position with five minutes left on the clock, the No. 5 USRD Ginetta of Casey Dennis (SprintX West Pro-Am) and No. 36 Andretti Autosport McLaren of Jarrett Andretti (SprintX Pro-Am) made slight contact at the final hairpin, allowing the No. 28 ST Racing BMW M4 of Harry Gottsacker to move past the Ginetta, while the McLaren hung on to fourth with the Ginetta falling through the field, ultimately finishing 10th overall.
The championship-leading No. 47 NOLASPORT Porsche of Jason Hart, who took advantage of the second caution period, found a way past the No. 28 ST Racing BMW and finished fifth overall. The No. 28 came home sixth.
Kevin Woods (SprintX West Am) and the No. 67 TRG Porsche 718 CS MR finished seventh followed by the No. 43 Rearden Racing Audi of Owen Trinkler (SprintX West Pro-Am) in eighth. Ninth place went to the No. 2 GMG Audi R8 LMS of Jason Bell (SprintX Am).