The Acura NSX Silver division team of Trent Hindman and Shelby Blackstock scored their second straight overall GT World Challenge America powered by AWS victory Saturday afternoon at Road America. The Mercedes-AMG Silver division team of Russell Ward and Indy Dontje finished second overall and second in class, while the Porsche 911 team of Max Root and Fred Poordad continued to add to their impressive 2020 stats, finishing third overall and first in the Am division.
The Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 team of Rodrigo Baptista and Martin Fuentes finished fourth overall and first in Pro/Am, taking over the championship points lead.
Weather conditions were ideal for the 90-minute contest at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit. From pole, Dontje in the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 brought the field to the green flag and launched into the lead.
There was drama behind him, though, as a pair of DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG machines touched near the end of the front straight. The Pro/Am championship points-leading No. 04 machine driven by George Kurtz spun and ended up in the gravel outside of Turn 1, while the No. 63 machine piloted by David Askew continued on.
Two turns later Blackstock seized an opportunity to pass for the lead executing a move to the front over Dontje through Turn 3. Fuentes, in the Squadra Corse No. 1 Ferrari 488 GT3 slotted into third, while Poordad in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (991.II) moved into fourth.
With Kurtz’s Mercedes beached, race officials issued a full-course yellow. While crews worked to pull Kurtz’s machine out of the runoff, Askew would pit. Both drivers eventually continued in the race.
On the lap 3 restart, Blackstock launched successfully to again head the field ahead of Dontje, Fuentes and Poordad. From there the leaders held their positions until the pit window opened at the 45-minute mark of the contest. Fuentes and Poordad were the first drivers in to change over to Baptista and Root. The Wright Motorsports team executed an efficient pit stop and the No. 20 machine re-entered the race ahead of the No. 1 machine. Blackstock then entered to changeover to Hindman, while Dontje stayed out, coming in just before the 10m window closed.
With the pit window closed and the recycling of the charts complete, Hindman continued to lead the race overall up front by 15s over Ward, now in the No. 33 machine. Root remained in third, Baptista fourth and first in Pro/Am, while Ryan Dalziel, now in the No. 63 machine, sat fifth overall, and second in Pro/Am.
Colin Braun, now in the No. 04 machine, was sixth overall and third in class.
On lap 25, Baptista came down pit road to serve a drive-through penalty for a pitlane infringement during the changeover from Fuentes. By then he had built a healthy gap on Dalziel in fourth, so it did not affect track position.
At the checkered, Hindman crossed the line over 40s ahead of Ward, who was in turn just .638s ahead of Root.
Of note, with their third-place class finish, Pro/Am Championship contenders Kurtz and Braun now provisionally sit behind Baptista and Fuentes in the standings heading into Sunday’s contest.
“It’s always really important in any race to get to the front and take command of the race, and then you can gauge your pace from there instead of playing follow the leader,” said Blackstock.
“Shelby had one heck of a start and a really good move around Dontje in Turn 3,” said Hindman. “It was all about execution today.”
GT World Challenge America drivers now set their sights on Sunday’s 90m Round 8 race scheduled to go green at 1:15 p.m. local time. Watch the race live on youtube.com/GTWorld.