- Jan Heylen and Charlie Luck grabbed the overall and Pro-Am
- Robby Foley, Michael Dinan, and Turner Motorsports Score Pro Win
- Provisional Results
Watkins Glen, New York - The Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS jumped into its first race of the weekend as the Summer humidity settled into the rolling hills of Upstate New York. The Saturday afternoon 90-minute race was marred by contact with the walls and a few mechanical issues. Overall the race ran very smoothly and showed how exciting sports car racing is on this legendary circuit. It was also a testament to the saying “it’s not over until it’s over,” as there were some major changes in position during the final 15 minutes.
On Lap 1, Jeff Burton (#191 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3) made contact with the wall bringing out a brief yellow flag to allow course workers to clean up carbon fiber debris. Later on, an additional incident put the Zelus’ car out of the running for the day.
Right as the field came off the yellow flag, the #33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Russell Ward/Philip Ellis) jumped ahead and made some impressive moves through the Glen’s Inner Loop, moving up to P1 in Pro.
In the “all streaks must come to an end” file; K-PAX Racing had their first race of the year where neither car finished on the podium. The team had won the first six races this year extending a streak that began in 2021.
A one-minute pit lane penalty was given to Michele Beretta (#1 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3) during the first stint due to an incident at the Inner Loop portion of the track that forced the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 (Michael Dinan/Robby Foley) off the track. Due to a miscommunication, he drove through instead of stopping, which killed the team’s pace and resulted in a 14th-place overall finish, one lap down. The sister #3 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (Misha Goikhberg/Jordan Pepper) suffered a rare mechanical issue near the half-way point of the race, which by the time it was remedied left them eight laps behind.
After the driver change pit stop, the #6 US Racetronics Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Steven Aghakhani/Loris Spinelli) became the new leader with the #33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG (Russell Ward and Philip Ellis) giving chase with several Pro-Am contenders showing great pace. While battling in close quarters with Spinelli, Ellis suffered a mechanical issue and was forced to pit. However, the widened gap didn’t last long, as the US Racetronics car also suffered an issue, which extinguished their chances at victory, and gave the Turner BMW the lead in Pro-Am. US RaceTronics finished second, and Winward Racing finished third.
“In the moment, you’re just trying to be calm and do your job for the last couple laps,” Robby Foley shared about piloting his M4 around the track. “We had some vibrations in the car that were building, and I was worried because a couple cars had issues. I just backed it down, tried to stay off the curbs, and bring it home. We didn’t have the ultimate pace today, but Michael did a great job to mix it up at the start like he always does.”
With the K-PAX Racing duo finishing off the podium the points chase narrowed with both US Racetronics and Turner Motorsports gaining valuable points.
This was a day when the Pro-Am teams really shined taking a 1-2 overall. The Pro-Am field was flat out fast, as the #45 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (991.ii) of Charlie Luck and Jan Heylen, as well as #93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 (Ashton Harrison/Mario Farnbacher) staying ahead of the Pro class cars at times.
Wright Motorsport scored the eventual overall win. The final laps were fantastic as Colin Braun in the #04 Crowdstrike by Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 shared by George Kurtz finished just 0.179 second behind. This was the third win of the season for Wright Motorsports and closed the points gap to CrowdStrike Racing.
“It was a fun race, it ran the way it should be,'' Heylen said. “A lot of pressure from behind, and everybody did a great job. Charlie did a really good first stint, and it feels good to be back on the top step of the podium.”
Scoring their best finish of the season was the #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Erin Vogel and Michael Cooper with a strong third place run..
Earlier in the race, David Askew (#63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) and Erin Vogel battled hard for fourth place in Pro-Am and better positioning before the mandatory pit stop. This battle lasted a couple of laps and made for a brilliant example of the driving talent within the series’ ranks. After a war of attrition throughout the field, Vogel’s teammate Michael Cooper was able to continue their drive all the way up to a third-place finish in Pro-Am and fourth overall after starting 17th overall.
The rest of the Pro-Am field wasn’t so lucky, as both the #88 and #191 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3s, driven by Jason Harward/Madison Snow and Jeff Burton/Corey Lewis, respectively, were not classified at the finish.
The Pro-Am points battle tightened with Wright Motorsports gaining seven points to the championship leaders CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports. This is likely a fight that will go all the way to the October finale in Indianapolis.
The lone Am entry of Triarsi Competizione finished 10th overall to score the Am class win and extend their championship points lead.
The CrowdStrike Fastest Lap went to the #33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Pro entry after Philp Ellis laid down a 1:44.472. Mario Farnbacher claimed it in Pro-Am for Racers Edge Motorsports after setting a 1:45.195, and the sole Am entry, the #23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 (Onofrio Triarsi/Charlie Scardina), set a 1:46.421.
Race 2 goes down at 1:15 PM 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.
Get up-to-the-minute info on the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS social channels on Facebook at @gtworldchallengeamerica, Instagram at @gtworldchallengeamerica, and Twitter at @gtworldcham.