Michael Cooper tamed the rain and executed a huge pass on a race restart to score his sixth consecutive Pirelli GT4 America Sprint win at Road America Friday afternoon. Spencer Pumpelly finished second while Michael Dinan was third overall and first in Am.
Paul Terry finished fourth overall and second in Am, while Tony Gaples, running at his home track in the No. 11 Blackdog Speedshop McLaren 570S GT4 had a successful return to series action after a short layoff, finishing fifth overall and third in Am. Drew Staveley finished 10th overall and third in the Pro division.
The start of the 50-minute race was delayed for over 35 minutes because of the inclement weather and with rainfall slowing, race control gave the all clear for the start at 1pm.
With qualifying cancelled because of heavy rain, Pumpelly, in the No. 66 TRG-The Racers Group LaSalle Solutions Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 started from pole based on his fast lap in Thursday afternoon’s second practice session. Pumpelly led the field to green and launched successfully into the lead. Behind him, Terry slotted into second in his No. 59 Rearden Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, while third-on-the-grid Staveley in his No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang GT4 pursued in third.
Cooper, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren 570s GT4, moved up into fourth while Am division points leader Dinan, in the No. 210 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4, went on a charge on the first lap and moved up to fifth from his 12th starting position. Staveley passed Terry through Turn 8 for second. Terry then fell back into the clutches of both Cooper and Dinan, with both drivers moving up around the No. 59 machine.
Officials then issued a full-course yellow as Mark Klenin, in the No. 62 KPR SIN R1 GT4, spun off track and into the tire wall at Turn 8. The race returned to green with under 23 minutes left, and Pumpelly launched into the lead. Cooper timed the restart perfectly and deftly drag raced past Staveley and then in a huge move swept past Pumpelly around the outside of Turn 1 to head the field. Behind them, Dinan maintained his lead in Am and moved up into third overall on the restart lap when Staveley ran wide at Turn 5.
The leaders maintained their positions until with under five minutes left in the race, Jeff Burton in the No. 191 Rearden Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 contacted with Ray Mason in the No. 77 Compass Racing McLaren 570s GT4 heading into Canada Corner (Turn 12), bringing out a full-course yellow. With the clock expiring under yellow, Cooper brought the field to the checkered to claim his sixth straight win.
“On the restart, I could see Pumpelly through Staveley’s windshield and when he went, I went, and I got a little run on Staveley and cleared him on the inside,” Cooper said of his winning maneuver. “Then I moved to outside on Pumpelly so I could have a clean shot and see better. I thought I could probably out-brake him. I waited for him to brake — I knew my car was stable enough and I wouldn’t lose it — and I drove it in there and around the outside of Turn 1.”
With their wins, Cooper and Dinan extend their leads in their respective driver championships. Drivers now get set for Saturday’s race scheduled for a 9:40am CDT green flag.