- Conquest Racing dominates bringing home two wins in Silver and AM
- NOLASPORT wins overall and PRO-AM Class
- Race 1 Results
The GT4 America field concluded Saturday’s program with Race One taking place as the sun began to set over the California hills. Forty cars took to the hilly course to compete in an hour-long race, during which anything could have happened across all three classes.
The race was a true nail-bitter, with multiple cars that could have claimed the overall win and class wins. All bets were off when the green flag waved, as some drivers were keen to get their elbows out. A few cautions punctuated the race, but in the end, the PRO-AM No. 47 NOLASPORT entry of Matt Travis and Jason Hart prevailed overall, with the No. 34 Conquest Racing / JMF Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Jesse Webb and Michai Stephens claiming the Silver Class win and third position overall. Conquest Racing’s sister car, the No. 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4, won the highest honors in the Am Class.
The Silver class stole the show, kickstarted by young talent Jesse Webb speeding into the distance in the No. 34 Conquest Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. The pole sitter wasted no time pulling a gap to the cars behind. However, a yellow flag early in the session momentarily halted his progress.
As the green flag waved once again with 48 minutes remaining in the race, Webb pulled a significant gap and went on to set his fastest lap of the race just moments later.
A long caution plagued the Pirelli GT4 America field, with the race resuming with 25 minutes left on the clock. Pit stop strategies were going to be of the utmost importance, and some gambles really paid off. Most of the field elected to come down pit lane one lap after the restart, but race leader Jesse Webb stayed on track, opting for a different strategy. Though not in the same class, this decision benefitted the PRO-AM No. 47 NOLASPORT machine, which claimed the overall and PRO-AM class wins.
It was a tight field at the end of the race, but ultimately, Conquest Racing’s Jesse Webb and Michai Stephens came home with the win in the Silver class, followed by the No. 92 Random Vandals Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Kevin Boehm and Kenton Koch and the No. 19 ACI Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport of Francis Selldorff and Andrew Davis. The No. 51 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 GT4 received a late penalty for a short pit stop, which knocked them down the ranks and resulted in them missing out on third place on the podium.
“It’s an absolutely joyful experience, you couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season for us,” expressed Canadian driver Jesse Webb after claiming his maiden GT4 America win. “It’s awesome having Michai (Stephens) as a teammate. We’ll enjoy the moment now, but we’ll keep our heads down and push on for tomorrow.”
Michai Stephens echoed his teammate's thoughts; “we have our sights set on the best possible result we can achieve this season. We have all the tools in the making right here. This is a beautiful way to start off the season. We obviously also have to give credit to John Farrow, Eric Bachelart, Ian Willis, Richard, and everyone else on the team. We really appreciate the opportunity to be here.”
The theme of the race in the PRO-AM Class was ‘argy bargy’, as drivers in the field were quick to fight tooth and nail for every opportunity. This approach came at the detriment of Carter Fartuch, who suffered a right rear puncture early in the session in his No. 37 Skip Barber Racing School Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4. The No. 069 Archangel Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 of Todd Coleman also did not walk away unscathed, his race ending as the result of a broken suspension.
After the long caution that took out the No. 428 van der Steur Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 and the No. 54 Black Swan Racing McLaren Artura GT4, the drivers put their foot down to race to the checkered flag. NOLASPORT had a stellar strategy, with the No.47 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 coming out from their pit stops in first place overall. The clear track ahead allowed them to power through to the finish line, albeit with a few dramatic final laps with traffic interference.
“This win is fantastic, we’re happy to be back, and to win the first race of the season is huge,” said Matt Travis, ecstatic after the race. “It’s going to be a very competitive and exciting season. Shake n’ bake!”
“I’m really happy to be here with Matt Travis, NOLASPORT and Porsche,” stated Jason Hart. “We’re off to a great start and we're going to do our best to keep it going.”
With a significant gap to the leaders ahead, Kay van Berlo in the No. 7 ACI Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport was never able to catch them before the checkered flag, though he made significant gains during the last stage of the race and brought home a second place finish for the team. His efforts earned him the CrowdStrike Fast Lap of the race award.
Rounding off the podium was the No. 50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 co-driven by Canadian Aaron Povoledo and Ross Chouest, who stayed out of trouble and drove a stellar race.
Conquest Racing wins two of the three classes thanks to a perfect race by Custodio Toledo and Paulo Carcasci in the No. 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4. The Brazilian pairing drove a relatively quiet and unassuming race, allowing them to perfectly pass the competition and drive home to victory.
“I’m very thankful for Custódio, he gave me the opportunity to return to racing after a 30-year retirement and it feels fantastic,” said Paulo at the podium. “The team did a great job, we have a fantastic car from Mercedes. The whole crew works so hard, you have no idea just how much work they put in behind the scenes. It’s not just one key moment that brought us here, it was a lot of effort over a long period of time that brought us this win.”
Custódio Toledo shared Paulo’s sentiment; “we’ve been working so hard for this. Paulo and I started this project a year and a half ago and it’s just amazing to get our first win here in GT4 America. I want to thank the entire Conquest Racing team, they did an amazing job and gave us a great car. It’s an incredible feeling.”
Nicholas Shanny and Terry Borcheller brought the action in the AM Class, earning the second place in their No.20 Carrus Callas Raceteam Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4, ahead of the No. 36 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 of British driver Charlie Postins and American James Clay.
Race 2 in Pirelli GT4 America will take place at 10:55 AM PT.
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