Ian James Strikes First in Thrilling Pirelli GT4 America Race 1 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway

19 October 2019 Sprint

After his championship rivals faced late-race tire issues from the first and second positions, Ian James and the #50 Panoz Avezzano GT4 would inherit the lead and go on to win Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Round 14 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  “Wow, that is why we never give up! The top three have battled all season long with everyone having ups and downs and this really sets it up for tomorrow!” said James. 

At the start of the race, Spencer Pumpelly and the #66 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR led the field to the green flag with Michael Cooper and the #10 Blackdog Speedshop McLaren 570S GT4 right on the back of the bright blue Porsche. 

On lap two Cooper would make a diving pass attempt for the lead going into turn 3, but would lock up his brakes and run wide, falling to ninth position with Ian James and the #50 Panoz Avezzano inheriting second position.  Cooper would then begin his hunt back through the field. 

With 35 minutes left on the clock, Ian James closed to within a half second of Pumpelly and stalk the leading Porsche, mirroring the Georgia native at each turn.  At this point Michael Cooper had impressively moved his way back into third position, nine seconds behind the top two.

With 27 minute remaining, Cooper would close the gap to James to under seven seconds, and also set the race’s fastest lap of 1:41.896, giving himself pole position for Sunday’s race 2.  As the top two battled, Cooper would continue closing the gap and reel in the Panoz and Porsche drivers by over one second per lap. With 13 minutes remaining, Cooper had closed to within two-tenths of a second to James, with Pumpelly four-tenths up the track.

With only 8 minutes left on the clock Cooper would power past James for second position at turn three with the two battling side by side for the next four corners.  While those two were battling over second, Pumpelly would pull out to a 1.7 second gap over his championship rivals.

5 minutes later, Pumpelly would unexpectedly pit from the lead with a right rear tire puncture with Cooper facing the same issue moments later.  Ian James would inherit the lead and victory.  Pumpelly would finish eleventh overall with Cooper eighteenth.  James unofficially takes the Pro championship lead with only one round remaining. 

Jarett Andretti and the #18 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4 would come home second with Jade Buford and the #42 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 third.  Shane Lewis and the #41 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 would finish fourth.

Recently named Am-class champion Drew Staveley and the #12 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang GT4 would take the class win, finishing fifth overall, his fifth victory of the season.  Matt Travis, who started on the class pole, would finish second in the #46 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR with Jeff Courtney and the #99 JCR Motorsports Maserati third. 

The 2019 Pirelli GT4 America Sprint championship season finale goes green on Sunday, October 20th at 9:00am PT, streaming live at https://www.gt4-america.com/watch-live.  The series closes out its 2019 season in Las Vegas – the weekend is sponsored by R.U.N – The First Live Action Thriller Produced by Cirque du Soleil.