A last-lap pass on Watkins Glen International’s downhill Turn 6 was the deciding moment for the first race of the weekend for Pirelli GT4 America. The No. 11 BMW M4 GT4 driven by Stevan McAleer and Toby Grahovec was passed by the No. 52 BMW M4 of Tom Capizzi and John Capestro-Dubets in the final moments of the 60-minute race. Capestro-Dubets and Grahovec claimed victory in the Pro-Am category over Pro-Am competitors in the No. 24 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Ian James and Gray Newell, who placed fourth overall.
Despite the overall win slipping away on the last lap for Grahovec, the No. 11 BMW still narrowly won the Silver class race over the No. 72 Mercedes-AMG of Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak. The No. 35 Mercedes-AMG of Colin Mullan and Michai Stevens finished third in Silver.
In the Am category, the No. 68 Toyota Supra GR of Kevin Conway and John Geesbrecht took victory over the No. 46 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR driven by David and Russell Walker. The No. 98 BMW M4 of Paul Sparta and Al Carter finished in third in Am.
The opening moments of the race saw the No. 11 BMW, driven by McAleer, drive away from the battle for second between the No. 72 Mercedes-AMG of Murillo, the No. 36 BMW of James Clay, and the No. 52 BMW of Capizzi. The No. 120 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR of Adam Adelson slipped rearward into the clutches of the No. 5 Mclaren 570S of Michael McAleenan and others.
The No. 24 Aston Martin Vantage AMR driven by Gray Newell for Heart of Racing Team drove forward, passing the No. 5 McLaren of McAleenan in Turn 1 on a forward charge with 40 minutes remaining in the race. As the pit sequence opened with 35 minutes left, much of the field came to pit lane to swap drivers. The leading No. 11 BMW of McAleer established an 11-second lead, and waited until lap traffic became an issue before making a pit stop to turn the car over to Toby Grahovec. The No. 48 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR from NOLAsport suffered a mechanical failure and was able to pull to a stop on the short course section, allowing the race to remain under green flag conditions from start to finish.
With the driver changes, Grahovec’s BMW M4 left the pits with a twelve-second lead over the No. 52 BMW of Capestro-Dubets and the No. 72 Mercedes-AMG of Christian Szymczak. But as time elapsed in the race, the gap began to shrink at the pace of over one second per lap as Capestro-Dubets and Szymczak caught the leader. Szymczak and Capestro-Dubets swapped positions on their march forward, but it was the Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 that led the charge to Grahovec. With two laps to go, the top three cars ran nose to tail. The white flag flew with the No. 11 of Grahovec leading by just a half second — giving the No. 52 BMW of Capestro-Dubets the opportunity to slipstream up the esses after a pass attempt in Turn 1.
Capestro-Dubets set up a pass around the outside of the carousel at Turn 5, gaining the preferred lane for Turn 6. The No. 52 BMW squeezed by and drove away, claiming victory in a last-lap dash for the Auto Technic Racing Team. Grahovec held on to 2nd overall, as well as the Silver class victory.
Pirelli GT4 America races next at 11:00 AM ET on Sunday, broadcast live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.