A busy Race 2 of GT America powered by AWS at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg showcased plenty of action in the SRO3 and GT4 classes, with the SRO3 class bringing out a yellow at the beginning, followed by the GT4 class bringing out a yellow on the restart.
Damage from two incidents shortened drivers’ green-flag lap time, but the field made it well worth the crowd’s time. SRO3 class winner Memo Ridley chased hard by James Sofronas. Hometown hero Jason Bell roared to a win to a cheering crowd filled with friends and family.
The SRO3 class began the race with a bit of drama in the mid-field. Andy Wilzoch in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R made contact with the wall after Turn 4 and ended his race early. Meanwhile, Memo Gidley in the TKO Motorsports No. 101 Mercedes AMG GT3 took over the lead from polesitter James Sofronas.
Sofronas, in the No. 14 Audi R8 LMS of GMG Racing, stayed close throughout the race but with under 10 minutes of green flag racing, he would take the checkered flag in second. He was followed across the start/finish line by Race 1 winner Jason Daskalos in the No. 27 Mercedes AMG GT3.
“Today was every bit the same as yesterday without the darkness,” Gidley said. “People can’t imagine the restarts here. The tires seem warm, but you’re like a deer on linoleum. You’re slipping and sliding all over the place. James was right on me the whole time, so I couldn’t just backpedal a little bit; I had to go. It was like one-lap sprint races.”
The GT4 class had a clean start, with polesitter Jason Bell in the No. 2 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 maintaining his position. Bell finished Friday’s Race 1 in third after missing out on the win on the final lap. Redemption came effortlessly today as he had a sizable lead over Gray Newell and his Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4.
The space between Bell and Newell had a story of its own, with Race 1 polesitter Todd Coleman spinning on the restart and Ross Chouest receiving damage as the two collectively pushed for Bell’s top spot. Tony Gapels of Blackdog Speed Shop in the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R kept his cool to take over third place.
“Flying Lizard gave me a really good car,” Bell said. “Yesterday, we had some unfortunate luck but were lucky overall, being able to finish the race. I’d rather race than run under yellow. But we got a few clean laps at the end, and I was able to show what the car was capable of doing.”
Race 2 completes the opening weekend of GT America powered by AWS. The series joins Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, Pirelli GT4 America, TC America powered by Skip Barber and Toyota GR Cup North America at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, March 30 through April 2.