The Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Race Two at Road America had it all. The race featured interclass battles and nail-biting moves, but Alessandro Balzan and Milwaukee-native Manny Franco in the PRO Class and Samantha Tan with Neil Verhagen in the Pro-Am Class came out on top.
The 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit does not allow for mistakes to go unnoticed and is quick to serve punishment. Multiple teams were caught out by the speed and nuance provided by Road America. All in all, only one caution period was served in the second half of the race post-mandatory pit window. The amount of green flag racing for the field gave way to great battles.
Franco and Balzan in the No. 21 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 captured a second win for the team and a second win in North America for the Ferrari 296 GT3. Conquest Racing would have 2.5 seconds added to the finishing time for a pitlane infraction but Franco’s lead of four seconds over Madison Snow put him firmly in the window of a win. Snow would also serve a penalty for an incident responsibility; 45 seconds was added to his finish.
Second place went to Eric Filgueiras and Stevan McAleer in the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 911 GT3 R. McAleer dropped back at the start of the race, causing the team to go into recovery mode. Third place was well fought for by Trenton Estep and Seth Lucas. The duo drove the No. 53 MDK Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with damage to the podium finish.
The No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 EVO was gaining ground in the hands of Ashton Harrison when she was spun by Snow, pushing the Acura off track. Harrison continued but she and co-driver Mario Farnbacher would miss out on the podium opportunity.
Snow and Heylen finished fifth ahead of sixth place, Chandler Hull and Bill Auberlen in the No. 94 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT3. Auberlen and Hull seemed unstoppable, having led most of the race before a suspected broken axle slowed Hull on course. His day ended minutes too soon.
Samantha Tan and Neil Verhagen in the No. 38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT3 brought home their first win after starting the race fifth. Verhagen battled competitors more seasoned than he but came out ahead to hand over the car to Tan, who continued to make magic happen. She avoided a scary incident between the previous leader, George Kurtz in the No. 04 CrowdStrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG and Paul Kiebler in the No. 77 TR3 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Kurtz and Kiebler would not continue the race.
The No. 91 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jeff Burton and Corey Lewis finished second in the class. This is their first podium of the season. Third place went to the home team entry of No. 43 RealTime Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Anthony Bartone and Adam Christodoulou. It was Christodoulou’s second race ever at Road America and the duo’s first podium.
Derek DeBoer and Valentin Hasse-Clot in the No. 007 TRG Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 survived rough racing to finish fourth. Fifth place went to the No. 08 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Scott Smithson and Bryan Sellers, who crossed the finish line under a second behind fourth place. The No. 32 EBOOST Porsche 911 GT3 R of GMG Racing with Kyle Washington and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished sixth after a relatively quiet race.
The No. 120 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Adam Adelson and Eliott Skeer finished seventh. The No. 9 TR3 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Ziad Ghandour and Daniel Morad were fighting out front for the majority of the race and looking to take home a podium finish. However, the duo had to pit near the end of the race due to a punctured tire, forcing them to finish eighth.
Relive the action of Road America by subscribing to the GT World YouTube channel. The Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS series heads to Sebring International Raceway for the penultimate round. The weekend takes place Sept. 22-24, and tickets are now available.