Braun, Kurtz victorious in second GT World Challenge race at Sonoma

SRO America

Braun, Kurtz victorious in second GT World Challenge race at Sonoma

SRO America

Braun, Kurtz victorious in second GT World Challenge race at Sonoma


Strong pace from Colin Braun and George Kurtz in the No. 04 Crowdstrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3 overcame a clever strategy call from TR3 Racing to win the second race of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

Braun started the race from pole and quickly built a strong gap over Daniel Morad who started the No. 9 TR3 Mercedes-AMG GT3. By the time the pit window opened, Braun had a 5s lead on Morad and a 31s lead on John Edwards who was running third. Critically, TR3 Racing elected to wait until the final moments of the ten-minute pit stop window to call Morad in.

The team’s overcut strategy worked to perfection as Ziad Ghandour inherited the car from Morad and the lead of the race from the No. 04 Mercedes. That left Kurtz to reel in Ghandour and move the No. 04 Mercedes back into the overall lead of the race with a pass under braking into Turn 9a. Like Braun, Kurtz opened up a comfortable lead and crossed the line 8.925s ahead of the No. 9 Mercedes.

A pair of Wright Motorsports entries, the No. 120 Porsche 911 GT3-R and the No. 45 Porsche GT3 R 992 rounded out the top four overall and the top four in Pro-Am.

The Pro class honors went the way of the No. 93 Racers Edge Acura NSX GT3 of Ashton Harrison and Mario Farnbacher. The story of the team’s race was far more eventful than a traditional pole-to-race-win conversion would normally be. Harrison charged through to the lead before losing it on the final lap and then completing a Hail Mary, last corner move to secure the team’s first Pro class win.

The drama for Racers Edge started when Farnbacher was spun out of the lead of the class by Spencer Pumpelly in Turn 11 in the first half of the race. Pumpelly tried to dive to the inside of Farnbacher but the move came too late, sending Farnbacher backward and leaving the Acura to drop to fourth in class. Pumpelly was given a drive-thru penalty for the move.

Racers Edge used an overcut strategy, similar to the one deployed by the No. 9 Mercedes, to move back into third place in class by the time Harrison got out on track. Harrison then made quick work of Manny Franco in the No. 21 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 and Seth Lucas in the No. 53 MDK Motorsports Porsche GT3 R 992 to put the red Acura back on top of the Pro class.

Franco, however, was not done as he dove to the inside of Harrison on the final lap at the double-apex Turn 7, snatching the lead of the race. Harrison stayed close enough to the rear of the Ferrari through Turn 9a and lunged to the inside of Franco at Turn 11, regaining the lead and completing a thrilling last-lap battle.

Despite coming up short, Conquest Racing’s Ferrari 296 GT3 showed much better pace today after some pre-race balance of performance adjustments to the new Italian GT machine. Franco and Alessandro Balzan improved from a fifth-place finish in class Saturday to the second step of the Pro podium Sunday.

Lucas and Trenton Estep rounded out the Pro podium and finished eighth overall.

There was only one retirement in the race — the No. 91 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. A mechanical issue ended the team’s day. The No. 91 Mercedes failed to finish both races this weekend after Jeff Burton’s crash in race one and the mechanical failure in race two. There were no safety cars or major incidents.