Ian James Fights Back To Claim Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Race 1 Win from Watkins Glen

31 August 2019 Sprint

Watkins Glen, NY - Round 10 of the 2019 Pirelli GT4 America Sprint season kicked off under picturesque conditions at Watkins Glen International Raceway with Jarrett Andretti and the #18 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S leading the field to the green flag.

Going into the bus stop on lap one, Gar Robinson was able to power past Ian James and the #50 Panoz to claim second place in the #74 Robinson Racing Chevorlet Camaro as Michael Cooper and the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren would slip past Spencer Pumpelly’s #66 TRG Porsche for fifth.  Shane Lewis and the #72 Robinson Racing Camaro would get past the Panoz for third on the next lap with the Pro-class championship leaders, James, Cooper, and Pumpelly, running fourth, fifth, and sixth with 40 minutes remaining in the race.

With 35 minutes remaining, Robinson would pull next to Andretti coming out of turn 7, completing the pass for the lead on the inside of turn 8 and would charge away from the field instantly.  Six minutes later Shane Lewis was able to pull the same move on Andretti at turn 8, with Ian James following the Camaro through for third, as the #18 McLaren would fall to fourth.  Half a lap later, Andretti would suffer a flat tire, requiring a pit stop and ending his chances of a competitive finish.

With 23 minutes remaining, Jeff Burton and the #91 Rearden Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 would also suffer a flat tire while running in the second position in the Am class, giving the position back to Jeff Courtney and the #99 JCR Maserati.  A safety car would be called due to debris on the track, bunching the field up with just under 21 minutes remaining. 

The race would go back to green with 14 minutes left on the clock with Robinson leading Lewis and James. 

With 4 minutes left, James and the #50 Panoz would dive to the inside of Shane Lewis’ Camaro at turn 8 for second position and would instantly start to stalk Robinson.  On the very next lap, James would mirror the same move in turn 8 for the lead with only 2 minutes remaining in the race.  The two would fight neck and neck over the final two laps with James ultimately staying ahead to claim the victory.  “First off hi to the Panoz family back home but, really that first half of the face I decided I had to look after and converse my tires as much as possible.  I had Gar [Robinson} and Shane [Lewis] in front of me and it actually allowed me to do that.  I had better traction than Gar at the end, so I was able to get by him.  Thrilling race and thanks to everybody that makes this program happen,” said James.  

Behind the Panoz of James would be Gar Robinson, Shane Lewis, Michael Cooper, and Spencer Pumpelly.

Robinson would claim the fastest lap of the race at 1:55.762, giving him pole for Sunday’s race 2. 

Drew Staveley would control the Am field to take the win with his #12 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang, just ahead of Jeff Courtney’s Maserati.  Alan Brynjolfsson would bring the #7 Park Place Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR third with Aristotle Balogh and the #190 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 and Tony Gaples in the #11 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren 570S GT4 rounding out the top five.

The final Pirelli GT4 America Sprint race from Watkins Glen goes green on Sunday September 1st at 9:40am ET, streaming live on https://live.sro-america.com/gt4-america.