Winward, Racers Edge, Triarsi win GT World Challenge race one at Road America

SRO America

Winward, Racers Edge, Triarsi win GT World Challenge race one at Road America

SRO America

Winward, Racers Edge, Triarsi win GT World Challenge race one at Road America

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The Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS racers took to central Wisconsin’s Road America for its first race of the weekend doubleheader under overcast skies and a threat of rain on Saturday afternoon. The race’s 90-minute duration was quickly interrupted by contact between several Pro and Pro-Am cars, which brought out a lengthy yellow flag.

Pro

Two corners in, front row starter Steven Aghakhani spun and stopped on track leaving little room for the rest of the field to navigate around the No. 6 US Racetronics Mercedes-AMG GT3. Michael Dinan (No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3) was the first to make contact with the stopped Mercedes-AMG, followed by George Kurtz (No. 04 CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3), collecting up the Pro-Am No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 (Erin Vogel/Michael Cooper). The No. 43 was the only car to escape a DNF.

This gave the No. 3 and No. 1 K-PAX Lamborghini Huracan GT3s driven by Misha Goikhberg/Jordan Pepper, and Michele Beretta/Andrea Caldarelli, respectively, a nice jump up to the bumper of the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG (Russell Ward/Philip Ellis), with the No. 1 leading the K-PAX Racing charge.

The No. 33 Mercedes-AMG maintained its lead through the entire first session, leaving the two K-PAX cars to duke it out amongst themselves. At one point, the No. 3 made the jump on the inside and almost lost its rear end, which could’ve taken out both K-PAX entries if the conditions were slightly different.

Ellis worked his way up to a 10s lead by the time he took the white flag, which led to an easy overall victory ahead of the No. 3 and No. 1 K-PAX Lamborghinis in Pro.

“I tried to conserve my tires as much as I could in case [the K-PAX cars] came up to me,” Ellis said. “Thankfully they couldn’t hold up the pace for too long, which was good for us because we were starting to struggle a lot with the tires. I’m super happy that, finally, it worked overall here, especially after being in the same spot two weeks ago. The track suits us quite a lot; we know what to do here, and we’ll try to do the same tomorrow.”

Jordan Pepper earned the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap after laying down a 2m05.837s.

Pro-Am and Am

The Pro-Am field was largely unaffected by the drama at the front at the start of the race, with the exception being the championship leading No. 04 CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 (George Kurtz/Colin Braun) unfortunately bearing a large part of the damage. Their race was unfortunately over—they still hold the points lead, but by a greatly reduced margin.

Chandler Hull and Bill Auberlen of the No. 94 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT3 hung out with the P2 and P3 Pro-class K-PAX cars for the majority of its duration. This seemed to inadvertently help out Ward in the Windward Mercedes-AMG at the front, as the No. 3 K-PAX rig fought off Hull early on.

After Hull passed the baton to Auberlen, Auberlen got into a multiple-lap-scrap with Mario Farnbacher (No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3) for the lead. Farnbacher eventually got a run and battled with Auberlen right up until the end of several braking zones. Ultimately, Farnbacher got the right run, and with Auberlen being a good sport about avoiding contact, got past and held on until the race’s end, securing victory in Pro-Am.

Racers Edge earned the win, followed by the No. 94 BimmerWorld BMW and the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche of Jan Heylen and Charlie Luck. This was the second win of the year for Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison. The duo is now within striking distance of the points lead.

“It was difficult,” Farnbacher said when asked about how he got past Auberlen. “These cars take quite a bit of downforce off the car, especially off the front. You can’t really follow close, so it was hard to stay close to him and not destroy the front tires, but I could see that his tires went away quite a bit, so I was waiting, keeping a close distance, and knew that at one point I needed to take a chance and get by him.”

The No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 (Erin Vogel/Michael Cooper) was damaged on the lap one multi-car incident, but Vogel, who was at the helm at the time, was not deterred— after a quick visit to pit lane, she returned to the field with a vengeance. When the field went from yellow to green she quickly gained two spots in one lap.

A lengthy war of attrition also happened between Sellers and Onofrio Triarsi in the Am No. 23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3. Sellers eventually got past, and unfortunately, due to a slight mechanical issue, the Ferrari wasn’t able to run on a full tank of fuel during the second stint and needed to pit, cutting down the team’s overall position.

“It definitely was a challenge out there,” Triarsi said. “It was a lot to drive the car. It’s a great track, we had a lot of fun out there, and we just wanted to keep it clean so we could finish out the championship strong.”

Race two takes the green flag at 1:15 pm CT Sunday afternoon.

RESULTS

MX-5 Cup | Round 14 – Road Atlanta | Livestream

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