The Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS ended its Road America run without a hitch on Sunday afternoon with no rain and no caution flags to play a decisive role in the race.
Not only did the Winward Racing team sweep the weekend by claiming both wins, the Texas outfit also won the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap award thanks to Phillip Ellis and his flying lap time of 2m05.932s.
Unfortunately, Saturday’s race one incident left the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 and No. 6 US RaceTronics Mercedes-AMG GT3 out of race two due to insufficient time to complete repairs.
Race winner Phillip Ellis, commanding the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, had a stellar start and pulled a significant gap right off the bat due to a little bit of argy bargy behind.
It was an uneventful race for Winward Racing, but a masterclass drive by Ellis and his Winward teammate Russell Ward, who took over from his Swiss co-driver and pulled a 27s gap on the No. 1 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Michele Beretta and Andrea Caldarelli.
“This is three wins in a row at Road America,” explained Russell Ward, including these two victories in Fanatec GT World Challenge America. “There’s always good competitors here, and we just had the car to win it. The crew did an amazing job. The pit stop was perfect, Phillip’s stint was perfect, and I just had to bring it home without messing it up, which was a pretty easy task for me since Phillip had the thick end of it while holding off [Jordan] Pepper. Usually, the best guy brings it home across the finish line, and what I like about this series is that we get to alternate. Winning is an amazing feeling, especially because of all the bad luck we’ve had since the beginning of this year, and now we’re on top again.”
The second Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of K-PAX Racing didn’t have much luck, as they were just a little too quick during their pit stop, causing Canadian driver Misha Goikhberg to come down the excruciating long pit road to serve a drive-through penalty. They were still able to claim third place in the Pro class.
While it was a rough weekend for the K-PAX Racing team, they still retain the points lead with three races remaining. The Sebring round will be a traditional 90-minute race, while Indianapolis will be an 8-hour affair that pays double points.
Pro-Am and Am
Racers Edge Motorsports won again, with Ashton Harrison and German driver Mario Farnbacher co-driving the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 to the finish line without having to firmly protect their position.
“I trust Mario, and I know he’s always going to give me a good car, so I have to remind myself whenever we get out of the pit lane that I have one job to do and I know I can do it,” explained Ashton Harrison after the race. “We’ve proved before that we’re a great pairing. As soon as I left the pit lane my whole job was to keep it in front and keep up the gap. I don’t even remember what times we were doing, I just remember that I kept focusing forward, and it paid off. I was really glad to hear that we had a comfortable gap to be able to bring it home.”
Racers Edge Motorsports kept out of trouble for the 90-minute race, but it was another story unfolding behind them. The start of the race was hectic, with three drivers getting involved in an incident, namely the No. 04 CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Colin Braun getting caught up with the No. 91 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Corey Lewis and the No. 23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3.
Championship leader Braun’s hood came up during lap one, and the CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports driver had to come into the pit lane for a quick repair, which made him rejoin the field back in last place. The Lamborghini was hurt, but the damage only slightly hindered its performance. The Ferrari also had considerable damage to its bumper, but was able to continue.
There was a lot of action between pro drivers Jan Heylen (No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R), Bryan Sellers (No. 8 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) and Bill Auberlen (No. 94 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT3). All three drivers were in podium contention, but ultimately Scott Smithson brought it home in second for DXDT Racing, after some great battling with Charlie Luck and Chandler Hull.
Luck, who took over from Heylen to finish the race, went wide through the grass in the finishing stages of the race, putting an end to his chances at a podium finish.
This weekend has tightened up the Pro-Am points chase with Wright Motorsports taking the points lead closely followed by Racers Edge Motorsports and CrowdStrike Racing, just four points separating first to third, and BimmerWorld still within striking distance. It’s highly unlikely this championship will be decided before the final laps at Indianapolis.
Even with a damaged car, Triarsi Competizione not only won the Am class, but unofficially claimed the Am Championship title. “It’s a great feeling,” said Onofrio Triarsi. “Being a new team in GT3, we’ve experienced some challenges, but to have this achievement in our first year running out here feels really good, and the team did a great job putting it together. It was a lot of hard work to get here and we’re happy with the results.”
Charlie Scardina had an intense final stage of the race battling Frank Gannett, pushing their machines to the limit. “I’m glad we finished, it was getting a little questionable at the end, but it held together, and I’m very happy we were able to secure a championship together with this guy,” Scardinia said of his co-driver and team owner Triarsi.
The next rounds will be at Sebring International Raceway on September 23-25. The SRO Motorsports America season will conclude at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 7-8 for the Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS.