Panoz wins opening Pirelli GT4 America SprintX round at COTA

Panoz wins opening Pirelli GT4 America SprintX round at COTA

SRO America

Panoz wins opening Pirelli GT4 America SprintX round at COTA

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The No. 51 Panoz Avezzano of Parker Chase and Roman De Angelis claimed the overall and Silver class victory in Friday afternoon’s Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Race 1 at Circuit of The Americas.

The pair of ST Racing BMW M4 GT4s led the field to the green flag, Nick Wittmer, driving the No. 28, taking the lead going into to Turn 1 with teammate Jon Miller settling into second in the No. 38 machine.

As the field flew into the tight Turn 11 hairpin, Chase attacked the No. 38 for second overall, but fell to fourth as the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Window World of Michigan McLaren 570S GT4 slipped past on the long back straight and claimed third overall.

At the end of Lap 1 however, the first safety car was called as the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Sean Quinlan came to halt at Turn 12, ending the car’s day. At the same time, the No. 71 Marco Polo Motorsports KTM X-bow GT4 of Nicolai Elghanayan was forced to pit to fix damage at the rear end of the car after being bumped at the start.

The race went back to green with 48 minutes left on the clock with Wittmer leading overall, Jeff Burton and the No. 91 Rearden Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 leading the Pro-Am class sitting fifth overall, with the No. 3 Motorsports USA McLaren 570S GT4 of Michael McAleenan first in Am, ninth overall.

As the field headed to Turn 12, Andretti got into the slip-stream of Miller and pulled alongside the second-placed BMW, and grabbed the position on the outside of the corner. Chase followed Andretti through and took third position overall, and started attacking Andretti for second.

On the next lap Chase passed Andretti for second overall and started to stalk Wittmer for the lead.

With 39 minutes remaining, the three leaders in the Pro-Am battled going into Turn 11, with Michael Dinan in the No. 21 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 going from third in class to first in class as the No. 63 Dexter Racing Ginetta G55 GT4 of Ben Anderson and the No. 91 Rearden Racing Aston Martin of Jeff Burton tussled all the way through Turn 12. The right front tire of Burton’s car was cut and damaged the corner of the car, forcing Burton to pull over and the second safety car of the race to be called.

The race went back to green with 25 minutes remaining, with the pit window for required driver changes opening on the following lap. Coming out of Turn 11, the Andretti-driven McLaren slipped past Chase for second overall, with Jon Miller being attacked by Tim Barber in the No. 25 CCR Racing Team TFB BMW M4 GT4 for third overall. Barber made the pass for third at Turn 1 as a flurry of action took place in the pit lane.

After the drivers changes were complete, the No. 28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4, now with Harry Gottsacker behind the wheel, maintained the overall lead with De Angelis, now driving the No. 51 Panoz, second overall.

Robby Foley, who took over driving the No. 21 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4, jumped into third overall, first in the Pro-Am class, just ahead of Colin Mullan, now driving the No. 36 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4, fourth overall, third in the Silver class.

Ian James, in the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT4, closed on the back of the No. 36, sitting fifth overall, second in Pro-Am.

With seven minutes left on the clock, the leading No. 28 ST Racing BMW was called in for a drive-through penalty for a pit-lane minimum time infringement, handing the lead to De Angelis. The No. 25 CCR Racing Team TFB, running sixth overall at the time, faced the same penalty.

Bill Auberlen, driving the No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4, got past the No. 47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 of Jason Hart for third in the Pro-Am division, fifth overall with five minutes to go, closing to within 2 seconds of the James-driven Panoz, who was fourth overall, second in Pro-Am.

On the next lap, the No. 2 GMG Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 of Andrew Davis also got past Hart for seventh overall, fourth in Pro-Am on the inside of the tricky turn 19.

Jan Heylen also slipped past Hart to claim fifth in Pro-Am with a daring move on the inside of Turn 20, as Hart spun but quickly recovered.

As the checkered flag flew, the No. 51 Panoz of De Angelis claimed the overall and Silver class victory, ahead of Colin Mullan and the No. 36 Andretti Autosport McLaren, who was third overall, second in class, and the No. 26 Classic BMW M4 GT4 of Toby Grahovec, who finished 14th overall, third in Silver.

“I found out Monday evening that I would be driving with the team, and we had some issues in practice, so qualifying was really my first time in the car, but the team gave us a great car today to get us to the win,” said Chase.

Foley and the No. 21 Flying Lizard Aston Martin took the Pro-Am victory and finished second overall with Ian James and the No. 50 Panoz second in class, fourth overall, and Bill Auberlen in the No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW third in class, fifth overall.

“We needed to maximize our result today since we’ll be missing tomorrow’s race, so we’ll have to make up the points at Indy next month. The Flying Lizard team gave us a great car today,” said Foley.

“It’s not ideal to miss tomorrow’s race, but we did what we had to do today to maximize our points and get the win,” said Dinan.

The No. 7 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 of Zac Anderson and Sean Gibbons took the Am class victory, their eighth of the season, unofficially claiming the class championship at the same time. The No. 46 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman of Russell Walker finished second in Am, 16th overall, with the No. 17 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 of Derek DeBoer coming home third in class.

“It’s so amazing, I can’t believe how this season has gone. All of the support we’ve gotten today and to claim the championship at COTA, at home, is special,” said Sean Gibbons.

“I have so much confidence in Porsche and NOLASPORT, and everyone involved here is fantastic. It’s so cool to be here and to win the title. A huge thanks to Jason Hart, my mentor and coach, we’re champions!” said Zac Anderson.

Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Race 2 will go green on Saturday, September 19th at 10:15am CT. Follow the action live at https://www.gt4-america.com/live.

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