The GT America Powered by AWS took to the grid Saturday afternoon for the first of two races at Sonoma Raceway. As always, the drivers split into the SRO3 and GT4 classes gave quite a show in the GT America season opener during the GT Sonoma protected by Crowdstrike weekend.
The 2.52-mile road course, featuring 12 turns with 160 ft of total elevation change, welcomed 21 drivers across all classes. The No. 101 TKO Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Memo Gidley claimed top honors in the SRO3 class, with Robb Holland in the No. 099 Rotek Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport winning in GT4.
Adam Adelson started on pole in his first-ever SRO race on board the No. 120 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (991.ii), which is no small feat, especially for a GT3 newcomer. However, it was Gidley that got the better start as the green flag waved, with the driver of the No. 101 TKO Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 managing to squeeze past into the lead. From there, it became a game of cat and mouse between the leaders, with the gap growing and diminishing over the course of the 40-minute race. At times, it appeared as though Gidley was untouchable, only for Adelson to put in a storming lap and inch closer again.
With 25 minutes remaining in the race, George Kurtz began to put the pressure on. Sitting in third in the No. 04 Crowdstrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3, it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before he was ready to pounce and make a move for second. Adelson, on the other hand, was not ready to let that happen, and set the fastest lap on the race at the 23-minute mark.
Gidley began to pull a significant gap, but tire degradation and traffic would soon come into play and shake things up. As the clock ticked down, Adelson made up some ground on the Mercedes-AMG GT3. In the final laps, the pair were nearly driving bumper to bumper as they weaved through traffic around tight corners, and although the other surrounding cars could have played a main role in the outcome of this race, the TKO Motorsports driver remained cool and composed, charging his way to the checkered flag, never letting the win out of his sights.
“This is unbelievably special,” said Gidley. “TKO Motorsports and David Traitel did an excellent job at putting this program together and have been instrumental in helping me live my dream and race in my prime. It feels good to bring home the win, especially as this is the first race that my 2-year-old daughter has been able to attend. This is where I come from, and it’s simply unreal to be in victory lane in front of local fan and friends at my home track. Thank you very much to the team!”
Gidley will be starting in second position on the grid for Sunday’s Race 2.
Adelson’s first SRO race ended on a high note with a second-place finish. George Kurtz, the 2022 GT America champion, rounded off the podium in third.
The GT4 drivers put on a show of their own during the 40-minute race. Polesitter Robb Holland commanded his No. 099 Rotek Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport to the win and never looked back.
The action was taking place behind him for the second and third places on the podium. Although the No. 69 Archangel Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 of Todd Coleman lost no time in trying to chase down Holland, pressure came from behind with the likes of Jason Bell and Ross Chouest.
The No. 2 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 of Bell gained important ground in the opening stage of the race, passing the No. 50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4, then eventually getting within reach of Coleman.
Coleman soon came under threat from Chouest, who eventually took third place away from him with 10 minutes remaining on the clock. As the front of the GT4 field settled with a few minutes left in the race, the No. 253 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Rob Walker was under the constant pressure of Gray Newell in his No. 25 The Hearth of Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 and Nicholas Shanny in his No. 21 Carrus Callas Raceteam Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4. Eventually, Walker had to capitulate, with Newell and Shanny making a late pass for sixth and seventh places.
In the end, Holland’s perfect race was translated into a solid win, with Jason Bell and Ross Chouest completing the podium.
Race 2 is set for Sunday, April 2, at 8:55am PT.