Bill Auberlen charged to the race lead in his No. 34 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4 late in the first race for Pirelli GT4 America at Road America, winning overall in the first of two races this weekend with co-driver James Walker. Auberlen led a trio of Pro-Am teams, with the No. 52 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 of Tom Capizzi and John Capestro-Dubets finishing second, and the No. 36 BimmerWorld Racing BMW of James Clay and Nick Galante finishing 3rd after a hard-fought six car battle.
Christian Szymczak and Kenny Murillo brought the No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG to victory in the Silver category ahead of the No. 22 CCR Racing/Team TFB entry of Cole Ciraulo and Tim Barber. Chad McCumbee and James Pesek brought the No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 home in 3rd in class and 11th overall.
A pit lane penalty eliminated the No. 16 Capstone Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 of John Allen and Kris Wilson after Wilson led the first half of the race. As the checkered flag flew, it was John Geesebrecht and Kevin Conway in the No. 68 Toyota Supra GR for Smooge Racing that claimed the Am class victory. The No. 619 Stephen Cameron Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CLUBSPORT MR driven by Alain Stad and Thomas Merrill finished 2nd in class and 16th overall, followed by third place Am finishers David Walker and Russell Walker in the No. 46 NOLASPORT Porsche.
A full-course caution slowed the race just five minutes in. Two cars, the No. 59 WR Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Paul Terry and the No. 28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 driven by Harry Gottsacker, were off course and stopped at the exit of Turn 5. The No. 28 was stuck in the gravel trap but was able to finish the race; the No. 59 WR Racing did not continue.
After the race restarted with 43 minutes remaining, the No. 11 Classic BMW M4 driven by Stevan McAleer drove to a commanding lead before the pit stop and driver change window, despite a strong effort from the No. 22 CCR Racing/Team TFB BMW M4 driven by Tim Barber, who tried to snag the lead in Turn 3. A fierce fourth-place battle broke out prior to the pit stop sequence, involving the No. 94 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 of Jon Miller, the No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG of Kenny Murillo, and the No. 52 Auto Technic Racing BMW driven by Tom Capizzi. Capizzi’s team lost radio communication, which was restored during the pit stop when John Capestro-Dubets climbed in to finish the race.
The rest of the race remained clean and clear, with a spin in turn 14 the only momentary hazard past the halfway point. The No. 11 Classic BMW car, driven by Toby Grahovec after the driver change, lost the lead to Bill Auberlen in Turn 8 with under 15 minutes to go, with trails of smoke from behind the car growing more pronounced. The car suffered a mechanical failure and pulled off with less than 10 minutes to go after leading for the entire first half of the race and claiming the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap.
In the final moments of Race 1, the No. 36 BimmerWorld Racing BMW of Nick Galante had his mirrors full of John Capestro-Dubets and the No. 47 NOLASPORT Porsche driven by Jason Hart. Hart and Galante drove through the kink door to door, opening up an opportunity for Capestro-Dubets to sneak by in his Auto Technic Racing BMW – he held on to second for the rest of the race.
Pirelli GT4 America race 2 is Sunday, August 29th, at 10:45 AM CT on the GT World YouTube channel.