Winward Racing’s Russell Ward and Philip Ellis Win Race 1 at Road America

Winward Racing’s Russell Ward and Philip Ellis Win Race 1 at Road America
  • Winward, Mercedes-AMG grab their second win of the season in Pro
  • Racers Edge, Acura grab the win in Pro-Am after a long battle with BimmerWorld
  • Triarsi Competizione Ferrari win Am class 
  • Provisional Results

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - The Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS racers took to central Wisconsin’s Road America for its first race of the weekend doubleheader under overcast skies and a threat of rain on Saturday afternoon. The race’s 90-minute duration was quickly interrupted by contact between several Pro and Pro-Am cars, which brought out a lengthy yellow flag and changed up the running order quite a bit.


Two corners in, front row starter Steven Aghakhani spun and stopped on track leaving little room for the rest of the field to navigate around the #6 US Racetronics Mercedes-AMG GT3. Michael Dinan (#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3) was the first to make contact with the stopped Mercedes-AMG, followed by George Kurtz (#04 CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3), collecting up the Pro-Am #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 (Erin Vogel/Michael Cooper). The #43 was the only car to escape a DNF. 

This gave the #3 and #1 K-PAX Lamborghini Huracan GT3s driven by Misha Goikhberg/Jordan Pepper, and Michele Beretta/Andrea Caldarelli, respectively, a nice jump up to the bumper of the #33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG (Russell Ward/Philip Ellis), with the #1 leading the K-PAX Racing charge.

The #33 Mercedes-AMG maintained its lead through the entire first session, and then after a flawless pit change maintained it, leaving the two K-PAX cars to duke it out amongst themselves. This made for great entertainment, especially when the #3 made the jump on the inside and almost lost its rear end, which could’ve taken out both K-PAX entries if the conditions were slightly different. 

Ellis and the Winward Mercedes-AMG worked his way up to a 10 second lead by the time he took the white flag, which led to an easy overall victory ahead of the #3 and #1 K-PAX Lamborghinis in Pro.

“I tried to conserve my tires as much as I could in case they (the K-PAX cars) came up to me,” Ellis said. “Thankfully they couldn’t hold up the pace for too long, which was good for us because we were starting to struggle a lot with the tires. I’m super happy that, finally, it worked overall here, especially after being in the same spot two weeks ago. The track suits us quite a lot, we know what to do here, and we’ll try to do the same tomorrow.”

Jordan Pepper earned the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap after laying down a 2:05.837.

Pro-Am and Am

The Pro-Am field was largely unaffected by the drama at the front at the start of the race, with the exception being the championship leading #04 CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 (George Kurtz/Colin Braun) unfortunately bearing a large part of the brunt. Their race was unfortunately over—they still hold the points lead, but by a greatly reduced margin.

Chandler Hull and Bill Auberlen of the #94 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT3 hung out with the P2 and P3 Pro-class K-PAX cars for the majority of its duration. This seemed to inadvertently help out Ward in the Windward Mercedes-AMG at the front, as the #3 K-PAX rig had a heck of a time fighting off Hull early on.

After Hull passed the baton to Auberlen, Auberlen got into a multiple-lap-scrap with Mario Farnbacher (#93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3) for the lead. It was one entertaining affair, as Farnbacher would get a run and tango with Auberlen right up until the end of several braking zones. Ultimately, Farnbacher got the right run, and with Auberlen being a good sport about avoiding contact, got past and held on until the race’s end, securing victory in Pro-Am.

Racers Edge earned the win, followed by the #94 BimmerWorld BMW and the #45 Wright Motorsports Porsche of Jan Heylen and Charlie Luck. This was the second win of the year for Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison. The duo is now within striking distance of the points lead.

“It was difficult,” Farnbacher said when asked about how he got past Auberlen. “These cars take quite a bit of downforce off the car, especially off the front. You can’t really follow close, so it was hard to stay close to him and not destroy the front tires. But I could see that his tires went away quite a bit, so I was waiting, keeping a close distance, and knew that at one point I needed to take a chance and get by him.”

The #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 (Erin Vogel/Michael Cooper) was damaged on the lap 1 multi-car incident, but Vogel who was at the helm at the time was not deterred— after a quick visit to pit lane, she returned to the field with a vengeance. When the field went from yellow to green she quickly gained two spots in one lap.

This put her teammate Michael Cooper into a good position, after a hard-fought battle with Bryan Sellers in the #7 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, as well as Jan Heylen in the #45 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (991.ii), he dropped back to a sixth place finish in class.

A lengthy war of attrition also happened between Sellers and Onofrio Triarsi in the Am #23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3. This made for some really entertaining action: Sellers eventually got past, and unfortunately due to a slight mechanical issue, the Ferrari wasn’t able to run on a full tank of gas during the second session and needed to pit, cutting down the team’s overall position.

“It definitely was a challenge out there,” Triarsi said. “It was a lot to drive the car, it’s a great track, we had a lot of fun out there, and we just wanted to keep it clean so we could finish out the championship strong.”

Race #2 takes the green flag at 1:15 pm (Central) Sunday afternoon.

The schedule, live timing and scoring, and session reports are available at Check out race live streams for free on YouTube at GT World.

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