Last Lap Pass Leads to Victory for Capizzi, Capestro-Dubets

Last Lap Pass Leads to Victory for Capizzi, Capestro-Dubets
  • Capizzi and Capestro-Dubets Claim Victory in Pro-Am
  • Silver Class Win For Murillo Racing
  • Toyota Supra Wins in Am with Conway and Geesbrecht

Watkins Glen, NY - A last-lap pass on Watkins Glen International’s downhill turn 6 was the deciding moment for the first race of Pirelli GT4 America. The #11 BMW M4 GT4 driven by Stevan McAleer and Toby Grahovec was passed by the #52 BMW M4 of Tom Capizzi and John Capestro-Dubets in the final moments of the 60-minute race. Capestro-Dubets and Grahovec claimed victory in the Pro-Am category over Pro-Am competitors in the #24 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Ian James and Gray Newell, who placed fourth overall.

Despite the overall win slipping away on the last lap for Grahovec, the #11 BMW still narrowly won the Silver class race over the #72 Mercedes-AMG of Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak. The #35 Mercedes-AMG of Colin Mullan and Michai Stevens finished third in Silver.

In the Am category, the #68 Toyota Supra GR of Kevin Conway and John Geesbrecht took victory over the #46 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CLUBSPORT MR driven by David and Russell Walker. The #98 BMW M4 of Paul Sparta and Al Carter finished in third in Am.

The opening moments of Pirelli GT4 America Race 1 saw the #11 BMW, driven by Stevan McAleer, drive away from the battle for second between the #72 Mercedes-AMG of Murillo, the #36 BMW of James Clay, and the #52 BMW of Capizzi. The #120 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CLUBSPORT MR of Adam Adelson slipped rearward into the clutches of the #5 Mclaren 570S of Michael McAleenan and others. 

The #24 Aston Martin Vantage AMR driven by Gray Newell for Heart of Racing Team drove forward, passing the #5 McLaren of McAleenan in turn 1 on a forward charge with 40 minutes remaining in the race. As the pit sequence opened with 35 minutes left, much of the field came to pit lane to swap drivers. The leading #11 BMW of McAleer established an eleven-second lead, and waited until lap traffic became an issue before making a pit stop to turn the car over to Toby Grahovec. The #48 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CLUBSPORT MR from NOLASPORT suffered a mechanical failure and was able to pull to a stop on the short course section, allowing the race to remain under green flag conditions from start to finish.

With the driver changes, Grahovec’s BMW M4 left the pits with a twelve-second lead over the #52 BMW of Capestro-Dubets and the #72 Mercedes-AMG of Christian Szymczak. But as time elapsed in the race, the gap began to shrink at the pace of over one second per lap as Capestro-Dubets and Szymczak caught the leader. Szymczak and Capestro-Dubets swapped positions on their march forward, but it was the Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 that led the charge to Grahovec. With two laps to go, the top three cars ran nose to tail. The white flag flew with the #11 of Grahovec leading by just a half second - giving the #52 BMW of Capestro-Dubets the opportunity to slipstream up the esses after a pass attempt in turn one.

Capestro-Dubets set up a pass around the outside of the carousel at turn 5, gaining the preferred lane for turn 6. The #52 BMW squeezed by and drove away, claiming victory in a last-lap dash for the Auto Technic Racing Team. Grahovec held on to 2nd overall, as well as the Silver class victory.

UPDATE: After post-race inspections, the Silver class win was awarded to the #72 Murillo Racing entry, with second place going to #35 Conquest Racing West and third place awarded to #062 Dexter Racing. The #11 Classic BMW car was penalized to last place.

Pirelli GT4 America races next at 11:00 AM EDT on Sunday, September 19th, broadcast live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.