SRO returns from summer break at Road America

Image by Richard S. James

SRO returns from summer break at Road America

Sports Cars

SRO returns from summer break at Road America

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After a long summer hiatus, Fanatec GT World Challenge America Presented by AWS, along with Pirelli GT4 America and TC America, gets back to business at Road America this weekend. GT America is also on the card, having last raced at the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville earlier this month.

Road America is a favorite of drivers and fans, thanks to the park-like setting, the mix of high-speed and slower turns on the 4.0-mile track, and of course some of the best food at any track in the country. George Kurtz, who with Colin Braun is chasing Fred Poordad and Jan Jeylen for the Pro-Am class championship, is one of those who considers Road America a favorite, especially the famed Carousel.

“If you hit the Carousel right, it’s like magic and you can gain a lot of time,” says the driver of the No. 04 Crowdstrike Mercedes-AMG. “It takes a lot of effort and commitment and setup to get it just right. The track has high speed, elevation and lots of different corners … it’s going to be a great time.”

The K-PAX Lamborghinis have dominated the Pro class so far this season, with Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper taking four wins to one victory for their teammates Corey Lewis and Giovanni Venturini. Russell Ward and Michael Grenier found a chink in the armor at the last outing at VIR, though, taking the win for Mercedes-AMG (Philip Ellis will be back in the car with Ward at Road America). That helped give Mercedes a narrow lead over Lamborghini in the worldwide GT World Challenge manufacturer standings.

GT World Challenge America has record entries for the season and will have some newcomers, with TR3 Racing adding a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Bill Sweedler and John Megure. For the first time this season, the Ferrari duo of Jean-Claude Saada and Conrad Grunewald will have a fight on their hands for Am class honors. In the other TR3 Lamborghini, Martin Fuentes returns to the series, partnering with Giacomo Altoe in the Pro-Am category.

GT4 America also has record entries, with 40 cars expected to line up at Road America. As has been the case for several seasons, Jason Hart and Matt Travis have dominated overall and in Pro-Am, taking all but the most recent victory in their NOLASPORT Porsche Cayman. Kenton Koch and Bryan Putt, who trail them in the points, took the win at the last race at VIR in the BSport Aston Martin Vantage. Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak have three wins to lead the Silver category in their Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG. There are some interesting newcomers they’ll have to contend with, though, as Harry Gottsacker and Tyler Maxson join the Silver class at Road America in an ST Racing BMW M4, while making an appearance for the first time this season are James Pesek and Chad McCumbee in a PF Racing Ford Mustang, also in Silver. Jon Geesbreght and Kevin Conway have podiumed in every race in the Smooge Racing Toyota Supra to control the Am standings.

Jacob Ruud has dominated the competition in the new TCX class driving a BMW M2 CS, and Road America is his home track. From nearby Racine, Wis., he learned to race at Road America, so it doesn’t look good for the competition. Naturally, like Kurtz, Ruud has a lot of positive things to say about the track.

“I love how good a track it is for how long it’s been around,” Ruud says. “There are so many tracks in the U.S. that can’t provide what Road America provides in terms of elevation change and different caliber corners — high-speed aero type corners, technical corners … it just has a good mix of everything. There are some tracks that it’s just one type of layout and you’re driving the same type of track over and over. At Road America, you’ve got three different types of track in one. It’s such a fantastic place to build your skills, but a hard place to master. It makes for a really interesting challenge for me and the other drivers, but it makes for some really good racing because there are a lot of opportunities to pass.”

The SRO America weekend will begin with the race car parade into the town of Elkhart Lake and a welcome party at Siebken’s Resort on Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. The paddock will be open, and autograph sessions return for the first time since the first race of 2020.

All qualifying and race sessions will be streamed live on the GTWorld YouTube channel, with audio simulcasts on SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel 392 (992 on the SXM web app). Sunday’s GT World Challenge America race will be telecast live on CBS Sports Network at 3 p.m. Eastern.

 

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