K-PAX, Racers Edge win GT World Challenge race one at Sebring

SRO America

K-PAX, Racers Edge win GT World Challenge race one at Sebring

SRO America

K-PAX, Racers Edge win GT World Challenge race one at Sebring

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The third-to-last Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS race was nothing short of thrilling, with mostly green-flag racing and some immense displays of driver skill under the hot Central Florida sun.

As soon as the field rolled onto the front straight ready to pounce, the race went from green to full-course yellow faster than you can say Sunshine State. Contact between the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 (Erin Vogel/Michael Cooper) and No. 94 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 (Chandler Hull/Bill Auberlen) at the starting line, put a temporary damper on the race’s excitement. The incident put both cars out of the race, and from then-on the yellow flag was never again unfurled.

Pro

In Pro, Michele Beretta drove the No. 1 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 away from the pack and quickly built up an impressive lead over the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 (Michael Dinan/Robby Foley) and its teammate, the No. 3 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (Misha Goikhberg/Jordan Pepper). When the pit window opened, all three cars entered the pit lane in the same order, which never changed thereafter with Andrea Caldarelli, Foley, and Pepper in their respective cars.

By the time Caldarelli crossed the finish line for the win, he’d built up a 25s gap over the Turner BMW, easily boosting the K-PAX Racing lead in team championship points. K-PAX Racing has effectively clinched the team championship with its drivers now 1-2-3-4 in points, with such a large gap that no other driver could possibly top them in the two remaining races, including the double points eight hour season finale at Indy.

The new Pro class entry of the No. 34 Conquest Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 (Manny Franco/Alessandro Balzan) was immediately on pace, resulting in a three-way battle for second place that lasted through the entirety of the second stint. Foley was able to hold momentum in the corners and had the upper hand in straight-line speed, but he had his hands full to say the least. At the line, it was Foley, Pepper, and Balzan in second, third, and fourth respectively, with a gap of just 1.355s covering the trio.

Caldarelli also claimed the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap of the race with a 2m00.479s—faster than his qualifying time, and barely slower than his best time in yesterday’s morning practice session.

“I have to thank the team, the whole crew. A great thanks to them,” Beretta said. “We drove a clean race, made no mistakes, and had good pace. Hopefully tomorrow we can do it again.”

Pro-Am

Ashton Harrison wasted no time when the race went from yellow to green after that dramatic start—she drove the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX (co-driven by Mario Farnbacher) to P1 in Pro-Am in Turn 1, on the inside, and drove the wheels off of it for the remainder of her stint. A fierce battle between Harrison, the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (991.ii) (Charlie Luck/Jan Heylen), and No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 (George Kurtz/Colin Braun) at the top of Pro-Am lasted for multiple laps.

This three-horse-race was reduced to two when Luck spun, though he was able to recover and only lose one position. Luck then had plenty of pressure on his rear bumper from the No. 08 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Sott Smithson/Bryan Sellers) and No. 91 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (Jeff Burton/Corey Lewis). The top of the Pro-Am stack was especially a nail-biter, as all three teams are in solid positioning for the championship.

Further back in the field, the battle for 12th between the No. 13 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 (Justin Wetherill/Ryan Dalziel) and No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 (Frank Gannett/Drew Staveley) was immensely fun to watch. This proves that it doesn’t matter where you are in the GT World Challenge field—there’s a solid fight everywhere.

The top three cars entered and exited the pit and driver change in the same order, and the next shift put in a lot of work to either hold or try to maintain position. At one point, traffic from the No. 23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 (Charlie Scardina/Onofrio Triarsi) almost gave Braun in the No. 04 Mercedes-AMG the right positioning to leap past Farnbacher in the No. 93 Acura, but it didn’t happen.

From there on out, most positioning didn’t change immensely, but the action never let up, either.

In the end, it was Farnbacher across the line first, followed by Braun and Heylen. Heylen had actually driven his Porsche on the ragged edge all-stint-long, too—he reduced a big gap down to less than a second off of Braun’s bumper. The win moved the Racers Edge team into a slim eight point lead over Wright Motorsports, with the CrowdStrike team just one point behind them. The Sunday race will set the stage for the finale at Indy. Any one of the three could be the 2022 champions.

“I’ve been behind him before on a restart, and every time I’m behind anybody who’s a competitor I always try to monitor whatever they’re likely to do,” Harrison said of her move to take the lead in Pro-Am from Charlie Luck. “So I took the knowledge I have and tried to put it to work. I had a really great restart coming out of [Turn] 17, so I just stuck behind him and took the position as soon as I saw the opportunity. He did fight me for it, and I would’ve done the same, so I don’t blame him for it. Once I got it done, I just set my focus forward.”

Race two goes down at 1:15 PM Eastern on Sunday.

The weekend schedule, live timing and scoring, and session reports are available at Gt-World-Challenge-America.com. Check out race live streams for free on YouTube at GT World.

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