George Kurtz was the overall winner, taking SR03 class honors, while Sean Quinlan won GT4 in the season-opening GT America powered by AWS race at Sonoma Raceway.
Front-row qualifiers Kurtz (No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) and Jason Daskalos (No. 27 Daskalos Motorsports Audi R8 LMS) sprinted away at the drop of the green flag, but stewards deemed Kurtz’ start to be premature and served him with a drive-through penalty.
Daskalos’ Audi experienced a mechanical issue on Lap 4 and would soon retire, leaving Charlie Luck (No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R [991.ii]) to give chase.
On Lap 6, fourth-place starter Dmitri Novikov (No. 29 Rearden Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3) spun, allowing teammate Jeff Burton (No. 191 Rearden Racing) and Jason Harward (No. 88 Zelus Motorsports), both in Lamborghini Huracan GT3s, to gain positions.
Just one lap later, Black Swan Racing’s Tim Pappas (No. 54 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport-MR) also suffered a mechanical incident that ended his run, while leader Kurtz peeled off to serve his drive-through penalty and dropped to sixth.
While Luck and Harward battled for the top spot, spins claimed several pursuers, including Burton, Gray Newell (No. 25 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4) and Alex Welch (No. 76 ROTR Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4), all of which cleared a path for a fast-closing Kurtz. The Mercedes driver would regain the lead and pull away in the 23-lap race to win by just under 6 seconds.
Masters winner Luck and Harward filled out the podium, as three different manufacturers finished in the top three.
There was less drama in the GT4 ranks as the top three qualifiers closed out the race in only a slightly shuffled order: Polewinner Robb Holland (No. 99 Rotek Racing Ford Mustang GT4) lost his early lead to Sean Quinlan (No. 119 Stephan Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4) at mid-race. Quinlan never looked back, leading the rest of the way and heading Holland home by 5.254s.
Third qualifier Jason Bell (No. 2 GMG Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4), meanwhile, held off all attackers and claimed the third step on the class podium.
Sunday’s Race 2 action begins with Kurtz and Quinlan, both fastest race lap holders in class, starting from their respective pole positions when the green flag drops at 8:45 a.m. PST. Catch all the action at gtamerica.us/live, on GTWorld YouTube channel, or audio simulcast on SiriusXM SXM 382 (web 992).