Elkhart Lake, WI - Bill Auberlen and James Walker Jr would take their #82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 to the overall Pirelli GT4 America SprintX victory after starting from eighteenth in a close and action-packed Race 1 at Road America.
"Starting way in the back was not how we planned it, but BimmerWorld gave us a great car and we knew it was fast. It was pure fun, a fantastic race!" said Walker Jr.
"It's been a great week! I gave my crew a lot of work and headache from a practice accident, but they got it back together and gave us an even better car, maybe should I do that again!" said Auberlen.
The race went green under sunny and warm skies, the exact opposite of what qualifying brought in the early morning. The #71 Marco Polo Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4 of Mads Siljehaug led the field to the green flag with Michael Dinan and the #21 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 following just behind with Matt Travis and the #47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 in third.
At the start Travis got held up going into turn 1 and fell to the seventh position overall, second in the Pro-Am class. Jon Miller and the #38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 took control of third position, second in Silver with Colin Mullan and the #36 Andretti Autosport Window World of Michigan McLaren 570S GT4 in fourth.
On the second lap, Miller would move past Dinan for second overall going into turn 1, but would go wide at turn 6, falling to seventh overall, fifth in Silver as Mullan would inherit second overall, second in Silver.
Dinan would settle into third overall, first in the Pro-Am divisions with Tim Barber and the #25 CCR Team TFB BMW M4 GT4 fourth overall, third in the Silver class.
Sean Gibbons and the #7 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 would control the Am division, running twelfth overall with the #46 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 of Derrick Walker second in class.
9 minutes into the 60 minute event, the first safety car would be called as Michael Dinan would stop on track at the Kink while running third overall, first in the Pro-Am class due to a mechanical failure. Barber would slot into third overall with Matt Travis taking over the Pro-Am lead.
Matt Keegan and the #50 Panoz Avezzano would run seventh overall, second in Pro-Am with James Walker Jr and the #82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 eighth overall, third in Pro-Am.
The race would get back to green with 41 minutes left on the clock.
As the field went into turn 3, Barber would slip past Mullan for second overall. Siljehaug would then go wide at turn 5, giving the lead the Barber as the KTM Would fall to fourth overall,mgiving Miller the third position.
In Pro-Am Matt Travis would get balked at the restart and fall from first in class to fourth, as the power of the BMW M4 GT4 would see Walker Jr run from third to first in just a matter of corners. Keegan would sit in second position as Sean Quinlan and the #19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 would find himself third in class.
Back in Am, Derek Walker would slip past his teammate Gibbons for the class lead with John Allen and the #16 Rearden Racing Mercedes AMG GT4 getting into third.
As the pit window opened for the required driver changes, Bryan Putt and the #15 Bsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 would pass Travis for fourth in Pro-Am as the majority of the field would dive into the pit lane to make their stops.
With 26 minutes left on the clock Bill Auberlen, now driving the #82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4, would pass the #28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 for the Pro-Am lead, fifth overall and stalk Jarrett Andretti, now behind the wheel of the #36. Auberlen would quickly get past Andretti for fourth overall and take off for the three leading Silver entries.
When the pit window closed Cole Ciraulo, now driving the #25 BMW, would maintain the lead with Nicolai Elgahanayan, now driving the #71 KTM, in second. Samantha Tan, piloting the #38 BMW, would run third overall.
Auberlen would not waste any time getting past Tan for third overall and begin to hunt down the leaders, who were three seconds up the track.
With just under 20 minutes left on the clock Kenton Koch, now behind the wheel of the #15 Bsport Aston Martin, would get past Andretti on the inside of the Carousel for fifth overall, sitting second in the Pro-Am class.
Less than a minute later Auberlen would catch and pass Elghananyan for second overall and pressure Ciraulo for the overall lead. Auberlen would take the inside line going into Canada Corner and pass Ciraulo, immediately pulling away from his rivals.
With 14 minutes on the clock, Nick Wittmer would overtake Elghananyan for third overall, second in the Silver class, on the front stretch and would then out-drag Ciraulo for second overall, first in Silver.
Three minutes later, Pro-Am competitor Kenton Koch would pass both Elghananyan and Ciraulo to run third overall, still second in class.
As the checkered flag flew Auberlen would cross the line in first taking the overall and Pro-Am victory. Kenton Koch and the #15 Bsport Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 would finish third overall, second in Pro-Am with Patrick Gallagher and the #33 RS1 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 third in class, seventh overall.
The Silver class victory would go to Nick Wittmer and the #28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 with Jarrett Andretti and the #36 Andretti Autosport Window World of Michigan McLaren 570S GT4 second in class, fourth overall. The #71 Marco Polo Motorsports KTM X-Bow of Nicolai Elghanayan would finish third in class, fifth overall.
"The BMW has been solid all weekend so the ST Racing team really got the car dialed in and gave us a very fast race car!" said Gottsacker.
"It was a fun stint I can tell you that! The team at STR gave me a great car, it was really hooked up and has great balance!" said Wittmer.
In Am, the NOLASPORT teammates would continue their battle, but see the #7, now with Zac Anderson driving, retake the class lead from the #46, now with Russell Walker behind the wheel. Kris Wilson in the #16 Rearden Racing Mercedes would run third in class. The three cars would finish nose to tail in this order.
"NOLASPORT do a great job and gave us a really great car today. It was an amazing race with our teammate and Kris Wilson, really fun to get this win!" said Gibbons.
"It's not an easy time to be racing, but thank you to Porsche Fresno for getting us here and thank you to NOLASPORT for giving us a great car!" said Anderson.
Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Race 2 will go green on Saturday, August 29th at 3:35pm CT, streaming live at https://www.gt4-america.com/live.
PROVISIONAL RESULTS - PDF Link