Professional road racing returned to the track at NOLA Motorsports Park this weekend, and did not disappoint those who came to watch. The weekend included a doubleheader for the Pirelli GT4 America series at the 2.75-mile road course. After an out of the ordinary race on Saturday afternoon, which was run mostly under a yellow flag caution, then delayed by inclement weather, race teams looked to get back to racing on a course that boasts 16 turns and a 5,800 ft. straightaway.
Porsche racers secured pole position in each class. The #18 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport (Eric Filgueiras/Stevan McAleer) led the field overall with the No. 120 Premier Racing Porsche (Adam Adelson/Elliott Skeer) in front of the Pro-Am class. The RS1 sister Porsche of (Nelson Calle/Juan Martinez) heading up the Am class.
From the drop of the green flag, Stevan McAleer led the pack to take the overall and Silver class lead. After the driver change, Eric Filgueras maintained the lead McAleer built in the first half of the race. The No. 120 Premier Racing Porsche gave chase throughout the entire race for overall position. For the first half of the race the No. 34 Conquest Racing/JMF Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 with Michai Stephens at the wheel was also a strong challenger for the top three overall after starting from the third row.
Following a full-course yellow to remove a damaged car, Kenton Koch in the No. 15 BSport Aston Martin Vantage AMR, used the re-start to move to second in the Pro-Am class. Koch then used his momentum to move past Stephens into the P3 overall position. Unfortunately after the mandatory 84-second driver change, Koch’s teammate Bryan Putt was spun on the track, and was out of the race after contact with the No. 8 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR driven by Elias Sabo.
After Saturday’s Race 1 had only two full laps of green-flag racing, Race 2 was relatively clean with only one full-flag yellow just prior to the pit window opening for mandatory driver changes. Of note, the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing, BMW M4 GT4 ran the weekend with only one driver Johan Schwartz for both races.
RS1 continued its dominance on the podium, driver McAleer secured the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap for Race 2 with a lap time of 1m44.321s. In the Silver class the No. 68 Smooge Racing Toyota GR Supra (Kevin Conway/John Geesbreght) finished in second place. Third place was the No. 112 Dexter Racing Toyota GR Supra of Ryan Dexter and Dominic Starkweather.
Filgueras credits the RS1 team’s success this season to good energy. “We have such a great camaraderie. These RS1 guys give us a great car every single weekend, and I have in my opinion the greatest teammate (McAleer) on the grid. He’s a phenomenal mentor, teammate and friend,” he said.
In Pro-Am, the No. 120 Premier Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport (Adam Adelson/Elliott Skeer) completed their weekend sweep of the podium. Coming in second place representing the New Orleans home team was the No. 47 NOLASPORT Porsche of Scott Noble and Jason Hart. The No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 (James Walker Jr./Devin Jones), who started from the 12th position at the start of the race, moved through the field under the driving skills of Walker Jr.
The finish of the Am class race was one of the most exciting of the day with the No. 19 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport of Alain Stad and Seth Thomas holding off a strong challenge from the No. 888 Zelus Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR (Matt Guiver/Sean Whelan) through the last lap right down to crossing the finish line. Moving through the field from a start from the back to finish third in class was the No. 66 The Racers Group Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport of Jason Alexandridis and Derek DeBoer.
“Between the weather and accidents, just staying alive and bringing it home, it’s a great feeling,” said Stad. His co-driver Thomas only found out on Thursday he would be racing this weekend. He credited his NOLASPORT teammates, and his previous experience driving a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport for his preparation for this weekend’s races.
Pirelli GT4 America racing will move to Virginia International Raceway on June 17 -19.