Bill Auberlen and James Walker Jr took their No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 to the overall Pirelli GT4 America SprintX victory after starting from 18th in a close and action-packed Race 1 at Road America.
“Starting way in the back was not how we planned it, but BimmerWorld gave us a great car and we knew it was fast. It was pure fun, a fantastic race!” said Walker Jr.
“It’s been a great week! I gave my crew a lot of work and headache from a practice accident, but they got it back together and gave us an even better car — maybe should I do that again!” said Auberlen.
The race went green under sunny and warm skies, the exact opposite of what qualifying brought in the early morning. The No. 71 Marco Polo Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4 of Mads Siljehaug led the field to the green flag with Michael Dinan and the No. 21 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 following just behind with Matt Travis and the No. 47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 in third.
At the start Travis got held up into Turn 1 and fell to the seventh position overall, second in the Pro-Am class. Jon Miller and the No. 38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 took control of third position, second in Silver with Colin Mullan and the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Window World of Michigan McLaren 570S GT4 in fourth.
On the second lap, Miller moved past Dinan for second overall going into Turn 1, but would go wide at Turn 6, falling to seventh overall, fifth in Silver as Mullan would inherit second overall, second in Silver.
Dinan settled into third overall, first in the Pro-Am divisions with Tim Barber and the No. 25 CCR Team TFB BMW M4 GT4 fourth overall, third in the Silver class.
Sean Gibbons and the No. 7 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 controlled the Am division, running 12th overall with the No. 46 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 of Derrick Walker second in class.
Nine minutes into the 60 minute event, the first safety car was called as Michael Dinan stopped on track at the Kink while running third overall, first in the Pro-Am class due to a mechanical failure. Barber slotted into third overall with Matt Travis taking over the Pro-Am lead.
Matt Keegan and the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano ran seventh overall, second in Pro-Am with James Walker Jr and the No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 eighth overall, third in Pro-Am.
The race got back to green with 41 minutes left on the clock.
As the field went into turn 3, Barber would slip past Mullan for second overall. Siljehaug would then go wide at turn 5, giving the lead the Barber as the KTM Would fall to fourth overall, giving Miller the third position.
In Pro-Am, Matt Travis got balked at the restart and fell from first in class to fourth, as the power of the BMW M4 GT4 saw Walker Jr run from third to first in just a matter of corners. Keegan would sit in second position as Sean Quinlan and the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 would find himself third in class.
Back in Am, Derek Walker slipped past his teammate Gibbons for the class lead with John Allen and the No. 16 Rearden Racing Mercedes AMG GT4 getting into third.
As the pit window opened for the required driver changes, Bryan Putt and the No. 15 Bsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 passed Travis for fourth in Pro-Am as the majority of the field dived into the pit lane to make their stops.
With 26 minutes left on the clock Auberlen, now driving the No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4, passed the No. 28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 for the Pro-Am lead, fifth overall and stalked Jarrett Andretti, now behind the wheel of the No. 36. Auberlen quickly got past Andretti for fourth overall and take off for the three leading Silver entries.
When the pit window closed, Cole Ciraulo, now driving the No. 25 BMW, maintained the lead with Nicolai Elgahanayan, now driving the No. 71 KTM, in second. Samantha Tan, piloting the No. 38 BMW, would run third overall.
Auberlen did not waste any time getting past Tan for third overall and began to hunt down the leaders, who were three seconds up the track.
With just under 20 minutes left on the clock Kenton Koch, now behind the wheel of the No. 15 Bsport Aston Martin, got past Andretti on the inside of the Carousel for fifth overall, sitting second in the Pro-Am class.
Less than a minute later Auberlen caught and passed Elghananyan for second overall and began to pressure Ciraulo for the overall lead. Auberlen took the inside line going into Canada Corner and pass Ciraulo, immediately pulling away from his rivals.
With 14 minutes on the clock, Nick Wittmer overtook Elghananyan for third overall, second in the Silver class, on the front stretch and would then out-drag Ciraulo for second overall, first in Silver.
Three minutes later, Pro-Am competitor Koch passed both Elghananyan and Ciraulo to run third overall, still second in class, and the No. 15 Bsport Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 finished third overall, second in Pro-Am with Patrick Gallagher and the No. 33 RS1 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 third in class, seventh overall.
The Silver class victory went to Wittmer and the No. 28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4, with Andretti and the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Window World of Michigan McLaren 570S GT4 second in class, fourth overall. The No. 71 Marco Polo Motorsports KTM X-Bow of Elghanayan finished third in class, fifth overall.
“The BMW has been solid all weekend so the ST Racing team really got the car dialed in and gave us a very fast race car!” said Gottsacker.
“It was a fun stint I can tell you that! The team at STR gave me a great car, it was really hooked up and has great balance!” said Wittmer.
In Am, the NOLASPORT teammates continued their battle, but the No. 7, now with Zac Anderson driving, retook the class lead from the No. 46, now with Russell Walker behind the wheel. Kris Wilson in the No. 16 Rearden Racing Mercedes ran third in class. The three cars finished nose to tail in this order.
“NOLASPORT do a great job and gave us a really great car today. It was an amazing race with our teammate and Kris Wilson, really fun to get this win!” said Gibbons.
“It’s not an easy time to be racing, but thank you to Porsche Fresno for getting us here and thank you to NOLASPORT for giving us a great car!” said Anderson.
Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Race 2 will go green on Saturday, August 29th at 3:35pm CT, streaming live at https://www.gt4-america.com/live.