K-PAX Racing drivers Jordan Pepper and Andrea Caldarelli drove to a decisive flag-to-flag win in the No. 3 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the first race of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Watkins Glen doubleheader weekend. Taylor Hagler and Jacob Abel took the Pro-Am class win in the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 (pictured above), while the No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari entry from Jean-Claude Saada and Conrad Grunewald took the Am class win.
At the drop of the green flag, it was Dinan that would take the first aggressive move to pass at the front of the pack, completing the overtake of Corey Lewis before the end of the first lap. At the Pro-Am section of the grid, it was Michael Di Meo (No. 77 Compass Racing Acura NSX GT3) that fought traffic to gain four positions in the field.
On lap 3, the No. 10 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Bill Sweedler made contact with the wall and triggered a full-course yellow condition. Upon return to green Michael Di Meo (No. 77 Compass Racing Acura NSX GT3) slipped by class polesitter Erin Vogel (No. 19 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) to take the lead in Pro-Am, while Jeff Burton had taken advantage of the packed-together field from the FCY and re-took four positions to start making his way back up the field. However, a mechanical issue would see him pit the car by lap 9 and keep it out for the rest of his driving stint and a majority of the race.
By this time, the battle between Hagler and Vogel had intensified, with Hagler finally able to pass for second-in-class positioning in lap 11. Slightly further back Martin Fuentes (No. 9 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3) was able to make the pass on Fred Poordad (No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R 911.2) after their own multi-lap battle, with Frank Gannett (No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3) battling to regain lost positions as well.
As the pit window opened, Jean-Claude Saada (No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3) took advantage of the proximity and entered the pits first, followed closely by race-leader Pepper. As required, the rest of the field eventually followed with only the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini and the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 continuing to battle third and fourth positions, finally pitting with only 3 minutes left in the pit window.
After the pit window closed and the field of secondary drivers settled into place, it would be the No. 3, No. 96, No. 33 and No. 6 Pro cars at the front of the field, with Jacob Abel in the seat of the No. 93 car slotting into the first Pro-Am position and Matt McMurry following close behind in the No. 77. This battle would continue throughout the remainder of the race but Abel successfully defended and kept pace to secure the Pro-Am win. The No. 88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan, the only car to receive a drive-through penalty for a pit lane infraction, was able to salvage and continue the chase for position recovery, but ultimately suffered a gearbox failure and exited the race.
GT World Challenge competitors complete the weekend with the CBS Sports Network televised coverage of Race 2 starting at 12:50 p.m. ET. Fans can also watch the live-streamed race on the GTWorld YouTube channel, catch audio simulcasts on SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel 392 (or 992 on the app), and follow live timing and scoring from the gt-world-challenge-america.com site, the official site of GT World Challenge America.