Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, BMW Claim Class Victories in First Sebring Race

2 October 2021 Pirelli GT4 America
  • #35 Conquest Racing West Mercedes-AMG Wins in Silver
  • NOLASPORT Wins for Porsche in Pro-Am
  • #98 Random Vandals BMW Wins in Am

Sebring, Fla. - The first of two races for Pirelli GT4 America at Sebring International Raceway finished with green flag racing from flag to flag, with a frantic four-wide start kicking off the race and close battles inside the top ten in the final moments. 

The #35 Mercedes-AMG driven by Colin Mullan and Michai Stephens claimed victory at Sebring for Conquest Racing West, after Mullan passed Toby Grahovec in the second half of the race. The #35 Mercedes-AMG won overall as well as in the Silver Class, beating class rivals in the #72 Mercedes-AMG of Christian Szymczak and Kenny Murillo, and the #11 BMW M4 of Toby Grahovec and Stevan McAleer.

In Pro-Am, the #47 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CLUBSPORT MR driven by Matt Travis and Jason Hart finished where they started for NOLASPORT, second overall and first in class. They defeated the #54 Porsche of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Tim Pappas in their Black Swan Racing Pro-Am entry, who finished second in class, and the #119 BMW M4 of Sean Quinlan and Gregory Liefooghe with Steven Cameron Racing.

The #98 BMW M4 of Al Carter and Paul Sparta snagged the Am class victory for Random Vandals Racing, ahead of the #16 Mercedes-AMG from Capstone Motorsports with Jon Berry and Kris Wilson behind the wheel and the #68 Toyota Supra GR of John Geesbrecht and Kevin Conway with Smooge Racing.

The opening lap of the 60-minute race featured a frantic four-wide dash to the first of Sebring International Raceway’s seventeen corners. The 20-car field completed the first lap without incident, with the #11 BMW of McAleer scooting away from the rest of the field. The #47 Porsche of Matt Travis and Michai Stephens in the #35 Mercedes-AMG set chase to the #11 BMW. 

Deeper in the field, the #52 BMW M4 of Tom Capizzi fought with the #22 BMW of Tim Barber for 11th, while the #59 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Paul Terry drove forward nine spots in the opening laps before suffering an issue that would drop him to the rear of the field. Back at the front, the #35 Mercedes-AMG of Stephens passed the #47 NOLASPORT Porsche for 2nd prior to the pit sequence. With just minutes remaining until the pit window, the #36 BMW of James Clay, #16 Mercedes-AMG of Kris Wilson, and the #72 of Kenny Murillo fought nose-to-tail for 4th place.

After the pit window opened with 35 minutes remaining, the #46 Porsche of David Walker nosed into the tire barriers at turn 15, but was able to extract the car and return to pit lane to fix minor front end damage. The race leader, still the #11 of McAleer, pit with 30 minutes to go, returning to the track ahead of the #35 Mercedes-AMG and the #47 Porsche. But with 18 minutes to go, the #11 BMW, now driven by Toby Grahovec, lost the lead to the #35 (now driven by Colin Mullan) in turn 13, with a late dive on the brakes. The #47 Porsche, with Jason Hart behind the wheel, would go on to pass Grahovec as well, eventually placing second. 

In the closing moments of the race, the #52 of John Capestro-Dubets made contact with the #619 of Robb Todd, driving for Stephen Cameron Racing. The contact drew a drive-through penalty for the #52 BMW, dropping Capestro-Dubets to 21st position. 

Pirelli GT4 America Race 2 is Sunday, October 3rd, at 10:30 AM, and will air live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.