Late Charge Sees Auberlen, BMW Take Road America Race 1

Late Charge Sees Auberlen, BMW Take Road America Race 1
  • Auberlen charges to lead late, wins overall
  • #11 Classic BMW car suffers failure after leading
  • Provisional Results - PDF Link

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. - Bill Auberlen charged to the race lead in his #34 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4 late in the first race for Pirelli GT4 America at Road America, winning overall in the first of two races this weekend with co-driver James Walker. Auberlen led a trio of Pro-Am teams, with the #52 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 of Tom Capizzi and John Capestro-Dubets finishing second, and the #36 BimmerWorld Racing BMW of James Clay and Nick Galante finishing 3rd after a hard-fought six car battle.

Christian Szymczak and Kenny Murillo brought the #72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG to victory in the Silver category ahead of the #22 CCR Racing/Team TFB entry of Cole Ciraulo and Tim Barber. Chad McCumbee and James Pesek brought the #40 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 home in 3rd in class and 11th overall.

A pit lane penalty eliminated the #16 Capstone Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 of John Allen and Kris Wilson after Wilson led the first half of the race. As the checkered flag flew, it was John Geesebrecht and Kevin Conway in the #68 Toyota Supra GR for Smooge Racing that would claim the Am class victory. The #619 Stephen Cameron Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CLUBSPORT MR driven by Alain Stad and Thomas Merrill finished 2nd in class and 16th overall, followed by third place Am finishers David Walker and Russell Walker in the #46 NOLASPORT Porsche.

A full-course caution slowed the race just five minutes in. Two cars, the #59 WR Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Paul Terry and the #28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 driven by Harry Gottsacker, were off course and stopped at the exit of turn 5. The #28 was stuck in the gravel trap but was able to finish the race; the #59 WR Racing did not continue.

After the race restarted with 43 minutes remaining, the #11 Classic BMW M4 driven by Stevan McAleer drove to a commanding lead before the pit stop and driver change window, despite a strong effort from the #22 CCR Racing/Team TFB BMW M4 driven by Tim Barber, who tried to snag the lead in turn 3. A fierce fourth-place battle broke out prior to the pit stop sequence, involving the #94 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 of Jon Miller, the #72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG of Kenny Murillo, and the #52 Auto Technic Racing BMW driven by Tom Capizzi. Capizzi’s team lost radio communication, which was restored during the pit stop when John Capestro-Dubets climbed in to finish the race. 

The rest of the race remained clean and clear, with a spin in turn 14 the only momentary hazard past the halfway point. The #11 Classic BMW car, driven by Toby Grahovec after the driver change, lost the lead to Bill Auberlen in turn 8 with under 15 minutes to go, with trails of smoke from behind the car growing more pronounced. The car suffered a mechanical failure and pulled off with less than ten minutes to go, after leading for the entire first half of the race and claiming the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap. 

In the final moments of race 1, the #36 BimmerWorld Racing BMW of Nick Galante had his mirrors full of John Capestro-Dubets and the #47 NOLASPORT Porsche driven by Jason Hart. Hart and Galante drove through the kink door to door, opening up an opportunity for Capestro-Dubets to sneak by in his Auto Technic Racing BMW - he held on to second for the rest of the race.

Pirelli GT4 America race 2 is Sunday, August 29th, at 10:45 AM CT on the GT World YouTube channel.