Hart/Travis Back on Top with Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Victory at VIR

12 July 2020 SprintX

ALTON, Virginia – Jason Hart and Matt Travis returned to form at VIRginia International Raceway Sunday morning scoring the Pro/Am Division and overall Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Win. The duo of Jarett Andretti and Colin Mullan captured the Silver Division win, while the Zac Anderson, Sean Gibbons pairing won in Am.

Sunday morning's 60-minute race was the make-up for the cancelled Long Beach round. From pole, Silver Division competitor ST Racing's Nick Wittmer in the #28 BMW M4 GT4 led the field to the green and successfully launched to head the field through turn 1. Behind him, Am competitor Kris Wilson in the #16 Rearden Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 slotted into second, while Mullan, in the #36 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570s GT4 slotted into third overall. James Walker Jr. looking for a three-race victory sweep on the weekend with driver partner Auberlen slotted into 5th overall, first in the Pro/Am class in the #82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 slotted into 5th overall.

The leaders held position when on lap 3 race control issued a full-course caution for the safety crew to retrieve the #2 GMG Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 driven by Jason Bell that sat deadsticked on turn 5. On the lap 7 restart, Wittmer again pulled away successfully into the lead. Behind him Wilson was being challenged by Mullan and with the driver of #36 McLaren looking for a way by, Tim Barber, in the #25 CCR Team TFB BMW M4 GT4 slipped by for third position overall in the race. James Walker Jr. dropped from 5th into 11th after contact with another competitor on the restart, moving Travis in the #47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 up into 5th overall and first in Pro/Am.

As the pit window opened at halfway point of race, Travis came in immediately for the driver changeover to Hart, while leaders Wittmer and Wilson remained out to maximize track position. Wittmer however would run wide coming out of the Oak Tree Turn allowing Wilson to swing by and grab the overall race lead. With Hart and Andretti now out on track the two began an intense multi-lap battle for 5th overall in the race. Hart eventually passed Andretti through turn 1 to move up into fourth overall. By lap 14 and the pit window nearing its close both Wilson and Wittmer entered for the driver changeover. With the window closed and driver changeovers completed, Harry Gottsacker, who took over the reins from Wittmer, returned to the lead and first in the Silver division, while Hart was now up into second overall and first in Pro/Am, with Andretti third and second in the Silver division. Behind them John Allen who took over for Wilson sat sixth overall and first in Am lead, while Auberlen, who took over the seat from Walker Jr. slotted into 7th overall, second in Pro/Am.

Am leader Allen would then go off at Oak Tree Turn after contact with Vesko Kozarov in the #91 Rearden Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Anderson, in the #7 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 took advantage and moved up into first in AM. With Gottsacker up by five seconds over Hart for the overall lead on lap 19, race control issued a drive through penalty for a pit lane speed violation on the driver changeover. With Gottsacker coming in to serve the penalty, Hart moved into the overall lead. Behind him Andretti held second, Cole Ciraulo who had taken over for Barber was third, and Auberlen on a charge was up to fourth overall. By lap 21, Hart held a .337 second advantage over Andretti, with Auberlen continuing his charge up into third overall. While Andretti began a battle with Hart for overall lead on lap 22, behind them  Greg Liefooghe, in the #19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 had moved up into 3rd in Pro/Am. With Anderson still leading in the Am class and 14th overall, Derek DeBoer in the #17 TRG-La Salle Solutions Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 began hounding John Tecce in the #69 BGB Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 for second in Am. DeBoer would execute a beautiful move on the outside of Oak Tree Turn to grab the position in class.

As Andretti pressed to look for a way around Hart, he would drop wheels coming off the final turn of the track, eventually regaining control to slot back into third overall. Auberlen moved up into second and began a pursuit of Hart. In the final stages of the race, Auberlen would close the gap but at the checkered Hart crossed ahead by 0.776 seconds.  Andretti crossed third overall and first in Silver, Liefooghe (Sean Quinlan) fourth overall and third in Pro/Am. Jon Miller, in the #38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 passed Ciraulo on the last lap to secure second in the Silver Division, while Ciraulo/Barber finished third in class. In Am, Anderson crossed ahead of DeBoer, and Tecce. Results are provisional until posted final.

"I was going as fast as I could go, with a couple of mistakes. I had nothing left I gave everything for every lap and every corner," said Hart after the race. "I thank Andretti for racing me clean. We had a good duel. Once I got clear of him the first thing, I heard in my radio was the delta ahead of Auberlen, and his pace to my pace. Man, I just rung it for everything I had left."

Catch the CBS Sports Network premiere of VIR SprintX action on July 18th at 7:00 pm ET.

Pirelli GT4 America SprintX teams and competitors now get set for competition at Sonoma Raceway, August 7-9.