The Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 team of Shelby Blackstock and Trent Hindman scored a dominating overall and Silver category GT World Challenge America Round 1 win at Circuit of The Americas Saturday afternoon. GMG Racing’s James Sofronas and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished second, and first in the Pro/Am category.
Sofronas, in his No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (991) took the green flag from pole to start the 90-minute contest and nosed ahead of second-on-the-grid Blackstock in the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3.
Fifth on the grid, Ziad Ghandour in the No. 24 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 drag raced into third and through the dramatic 133-foot climb into Turn 1 moved on the inside of Sofronas while Blackstock moved on the outside. The competitors went three-wide through Turn 1 — Sofronas was able to slingshot his Porsche into the lead through Turn 2 with Blackstock pursuing in second, and Ghandour slotting into third. Martin Fuentes, who had started third in his No. 1 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3, slotted into fourth.
On Lap 2, Blackstock continued to hound Sofronas and the two would go side by side through Turns 2 and 3. Sofronas under pressure straight-lined through the apex of 4 to fend off the challenge and hold the lead. Behind them, Fuentes had moved around Ghandour up into third. A lap later Race Stewarts issued a directive to Sofronas to give Blackstock the lead of race for cutting the apex the previous lap.
By Lap 4 Blackstock had built a 1.8-second lead over the GMG driver, with Fuentes still pursuing in third. In the Am division, San Antonio native Fred Poordad piloting the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R overtook Mark Issa in the No. 6 Vital Speed Ferrari 488 GT3 for the lead in class.
With 50 minutes remaining and the pit window open for driver changes, Blackstock held an eight-second advantage over Sofronas. The two race leaders would come into the pits last before the pit window closed. Blackstock passing the reins over to Hindman and Sofronas over to Bleekemolen. For the balance of the race the leaders maintained their positions and at the checkered Hindman crossed the line 21 seconds ahead of Bleekemolen.
Colin Braun (George Kurtz) crossed the line third overall and second in Pro/Am in the No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, while Rodrigo Baptista (Martin Fuentes) finished fourth and third in Pro/Am. In the Am category, Max Root in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R finished seventh overall and first in class.
“It’s a great feeling. Right at the green flag we had a good car, and this is probably the best car I have ever driven, said Blackstock. “Hats off to the Racers Edge Motorsports team and Acura.”
“This is Shelby’s first GT3 race win, so congrats to him,” said Hindman. “We’re really blessed with this car and crew.”
“It’s always good to start the season with a win and it’s great to have Jeroen as a teammate,” said Sofronas. “The GMG guys gave us a great car.” “we were a little short of the Acura today, but the Porsche was great, said Bleekemolen. “You can really push this car and I look forward to tomorrow.”
Teams and drivers now get set for Sunday’s Round 2 race at COTA, scheduled for a green flag start at 1:15pm Central.