- Auto Technic Racing Claims Victory in Silver
- Heart of Racing Takes the Win in Pro-Am
- BimmerWorld Back On Top in Am
- Provisional Results
The Pirelli GT4 America field took to NOLA Motorsports Park on Sunday morning for their sole race of the weekend. Race One was postponed and pushed to Sunday as heavy rains made it impossible to hold the scheduled event on Saturday, and Race Two will be rescheduled to a later date.
The battle for the lead in the Silver class started faster than you could say “go”, with every driver going flat out down the long main straight into the first corner. It was the No. 51 Auto Technic Racing of Zac Anderson that beat out the competition going into Turn 1, followed by Tyler Gonzalez in the No. 74 COPELAND MOTORSPORTS Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4, with pole sitter Jesse Webb exiting the right-hander in third on board the No. 21 Conquest Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
A couple of back-to-back full course cautions halted the action for a portion of the first half of the race, with the green flag coming back out with 33 minutes remaining. As the pit window opened shortly after, the majority of the grid opted to come in to complete their mandatory pit stop and driver change. A multi-lap battle emerged between BimmerWorld’s Chandler Hull and Conquest Racing’s Michai Stephens for second place, with the latter getting the upper hand.
The yellow flags were brought out once more at the 17-minute mark as a couple of cars in the PRO-AM and AM classes were stopped on the side of the track. The field was bunched up together once more with everything left to play for as leader John Dubets had his 3-second gap taken away as a result.
The action resumed with 7 minutes remaining, with all cars in the top three battling for the top spot. It was a mad-dash in the final laps. It was one of the most thrilling and nail-biting finishes the Pirelli GT4 America series has seen, with the top 3 side by side as the checkered flag waved. The No. 51 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Zac Anderson and John Dubets was first to the line, a mere 0.004 ahead of the Conquest Racing machine. Michai Stephens and co-driver Jesse Webb finished second, with the No. 74 COPELAND MOTORSPORTS Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4 of Tyler Maxson and Tyler Gonzalez third.
“This has been years in the making,” stated Zac Anderson after the race. “I have the pleasure of driving with my best friend. AutoTechnic prepared an incredibly fast machine. We have been the best BMW in this series for a while now. It’s incredible to race with JCD and to get my first overall and Silver win.”
An emotional John Dubets added that “I was told we had two laps to go and I knew that Michai (Stephens) had a strong car. My rear tire was starting to drop off so I was doing everything I could to hang on. Michai gave me so much room out there, and so much respect. It was a drag race to the finish line and he was challenging us the whole way. It’s been a long road for us coming here, but I’m racing with my best friend and it’s amazing.”
The PRO-AM Class was full of action, as ever. Curt Swearingin took the lead early on, charging through in his No. 7 ACI Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport, with pole sitter Gray Newell in the No. 24 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 dropped down into second place, with the No. 50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 of Ross Chouest in the mix. The first lap was full of action as the No. 69 Archangel Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 of Todd Coleman was involved in an accident, taking him out of the race.
As the pit window opened up, and most of the field elected to make their way down the pit lane, Netherlands native Kay van Berlo took over from Swearingin, keeping the lead. Roman DeAngelis took command of the No. 24 Aston Martin Vantage, and never let his ACI Motorsports competitor out of his sights. However, a caution flag came out with 42 minutes remaining in the race, and once the green flag indicated the restart, the No. 7 ACI Motorsports machine accelerated too quickly, resulting in a drive-through penalty.
With 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Roman De Angelis was overtaken by Jason Hart in the No. 47 Nolasport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport. It was an Aston Martin showdown as De Angelis came under threat from Aaron Povoledo. The two Canadian drivers raced side by side, offering a nail-biting show for the spectators. John Geesbreght invited himself to the party in his No. 68 Smooge Racing Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4, lurking closely as battle raged on ahead of him.
An unexpected plot twist arose when the Nolasport machine came down pitlane to serve a drive-through penalty with 5 minutes remaining in the race. The Heart of Racing took the checkered flag first in class, with the Chouest Povoledo Racing outfit closely behind, much to the joy of local driver Ross Chouest. The No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 of James Walker Jr. and Tyler McQuarrie came in third in the PRO-AM Class.
“I’ve been working a lot on my outright pace,” noted Gray Newell at the podium. “This is my first race with Roman, my co-conspirator and coach. He’s been giving me a really good theory to apply. I managed to have a lot of time in the car in the past few months, so we can keep moving forward and pushing harder. It’s clearly working.”
The AM Class put on quite a show for the spectators who gathered around the Louisiana track.
Charlie Postins started in the lead of the race aboard his No. 36 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4. However, Postins became under threat in the opening stint, with the likes of Chris Allen positioning his No. 438 STR38 Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 right behind them, with Paul Sparta holding on to third in the No. 98 Random Vandals Racing BMW M4 GT4.
STR38 Motorsports opted for a different pit stop strategy as they came down to perform their driver change a couple of laps after the rest of their competitors, which resulted in Robert Mau taking over and maintaining the lead. However, he was soon under pressure from James Clay in the No. 36 car, who eventually was able to pull off the overtake. As the final laps of the race approached, crowds were treated to a multi-car battle through each corner, with Clay, Mau, and Nelson Calle going three-wide through turns in search of any extra advantage.
James Clay crossed the finish line to win the race, followed by Juan Martinez and Nelson Calle in the No. 83 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport in second, with the No. 72 KRUGSPEED of Anthony Geraci and Jaden Lander completing the podium in third.
“It’s a great re-start to our year,” said James Clay. “Sonoma was a difficult track for our BMW, so it’s great to be able to come to this track that is good for us and grab a top result. We need more of these this year and I’m confident we will get them.”
“This is a team sport, we have a much stronger field this year and it’s showing,” added teammate Charlie Postins. “But this one is on James. He drove a storming race and it’s awesome to be driving alongside him. As he said, I’m hoping this lays a foundation for more business-as-usual results for us for the rest of the year.”
STAY UP TO SPEED WITH #GT4America
The NOLA Motorsports Park weekend comes to a close. However, the SRO Motorsports America wagons circle again in three weeks at the home of SRO America, Austin, Texas. Circuit of the Americas hosts round five and six of the Pirelli GT4 America. Tickets are on sale now and fans won’t want to miss the racing, cowboys and fanfare. Tickets are on-sale at www.showpass.com/sro-cota (http://www.showpass.com/sro-cota)