RS1 Wins Race 2, Historic Victory for Blackdog Speed Shop, Random Vandals Tops Am Class

RS1 Wins Race 2, Historic Victory for Blackdog Speed Shop, Random Vandals Tops Am Class
  • RS1 Sweeps the Silver Class 
  • Blackdog Speed Shop Excels in Pro-Am
  • Random Vandals Racing Take the Am Win 
  • Final Results 

The Pirelli GT4 America championship closed out an eventful and action-packed weekend at Sebring International Raceway with a thrilling Race 2. It was a perfect day for the RS1 team, who claimed the overall win in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS earlier in the day. This time around, Eric Filgueiras and John Capestro-Dubets brought back some hardware of their own, taking the Silver class win.

Max Root and Tony Gaples claimed the Pro-Am win, in addition to finishing in the Top 5 overall. Paul Sparta and Kris Wilson put their heads down and clinched the Am win after a nail-biting 60-minute race. 

Silver Class

Parker Thompson started on the front row in the No. 999 Hanley Motorsports Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4 EVO, with Eric Filgueiras and Michai Stephens occupying the second row in the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport and the No. 23 TechSport Racing Nissan Z NISMO GT4. Stephens ran into some trouble in the opening corners, going wide and off-track, which left him tumbling down the order. 

There was a fierce battle between Kenton Koch in the No. 97 Random Vandals Racing BMW M4 GT4 (G82) and Zac Anderson in the No. 51 AutoTechnic Racing BMW M4 GT4 (G82) for third place in the Silver class. 

As the driver changes began to take place shortly before the halfway mark, Daniel Hanley took  over from Parker Thompson and returned to the track in the class lead. A safety car emerged shortly after, bringing the field back together, and unleashing an intense multi-car fight that unfolded throughout the entire second half of the race.

John Capestro-Dubets took over the Silver class lead for RS1 on the race start, and further moved himself into first place overall with 18 minutes remaining. Behind him, there was a very tight battle between four different competitors for the final podium positions. Colin Garrett continued to make moves in the AutoTechnic Racing machine, slotting himself into second in class after a series of successful overtakes. Meanwhile, Jonathan Neudorf was back in the mix in the TechSport Racing Nissan after making a strong comeback drive for the team. 

John Capestro-Dubets cruised to victory, clinching back-to-back victories for the RS1 team. Colin Garrett and Jonathan Neudorf kept each other honest for the final few laps and engaged in a drag race to the finish line. Garrett just managed to claim second place for AutoTechnic Racing, and Neudorf took home third for TechSport Racing in a well-fought comeback drive. 

“I really have to thank this team for this opportunity,” said John Capestro-Dubets. “I couldn’t be happier to be driving alongside Eric Filgueiras. The racing has been great at every venue so far, and I think it's going to get more exciting as we go down the road. Eric and I are ready for the challenge. The cars behind looked like they had some pace, but we got our Porsche out front and I was enjoying the view.” 

Eric Filgueiras expanded on the nature of the new driver pairing, saying “I think we've had a lot of success so far, it's a brand new program for us as teammates, but it's kind of similar to what we're used to here at RS1. It’s a fantastic organization. We're really excited to have JCD along with us, we’re looking forward to more wins.” 

Pro-Am Class

Max Root took the green flag from the overall pole in his No. 9 Blackdog Speed Shop Nissan Z NISMO GT4, comfortably leading in the opening half of the race and gradually growing his gap. He maintained the overall lead for the entirety of his stint, extending his time on track as much as possible before handing over the car to teammate Tony Gaples. 

A safety car came out immediately after Gaples returned to the track, which brought the overall field back together for the race restart. Gaples, who still maintained the overall lead, fended off numerous Silver class competitors for numerous laps before settling into a solid rhythm for the remaining laps. 

Gray Newell and James Walker Jr. were fighting hard for second place further behind in the No. 24 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 and the No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 (G82), but it was Curt Swearingin who was making significant progress through the field in the second half of the race on board his No. 7 ACI Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport. Swearingin soon moved up into podium position and began challenging Newell for second place. 

Tony Gaples thrived under pressure and crossed the finish line to take the Race 2 win for Blackdog Speed Shop, with Max Root also securing the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap of the race with a time of 2:11.991, as the only driver to go under the 2:12 mark. 

Newell finished in second alongside teammate Roman De Angelis, but received a 5-second post-race time penalty, which dropped them to third behind ACI Motorsports' Kay van Berlo and Curt Swearingin. However, the Heart Of Racing duo earned the SUPERFUEL Hard Charger Award after the team gained 12 positions overall.

When reflecting on Nissan’s first win in the series, Tony Gaples elaborated by saying, “when you're a veteran, it feels good to do it first. We're proud to do this for Nissan and Blackdog Speed Shop, and I'm really proud to have Max with us.” 

“This is really special,” echoed Max Root. “To be the first winner with Nissan in this series and to do it with Tony and Blackdog Speed Shop, it's super special. Sebring is a bumpy place and Tony did a phenomenal job bringing it home for us today. I’m super proud of the whole team.” 

Am Class

Austin Krainz set sail in his No. 18 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport and never looked back, leaving the rest of the Am field to battle it out. The closest competitor behind him was Kris Wilson in his No. 98 Random Vandals Racing BMW M4 GT4 (G82), who had his hands full with Matt Million in his No. 53 AutoTechnic Racing BMW M4 GT4. Eventually, Million got the better of Wilson and took over second place in class. 

As drivers were coming down pit lane, Krainz handed over his machine to his father Roland. The No. 18 RS1 Porsche remained in the lead, with Paul Sparta closing on him in his Random Vandals Machine. 

With 10 minutes remaining in the race, Krainz gave in to the pressure of Sparta, who took over the Am class lead. It was an intense last few laps as the No. 26 The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 of Hannah Greenemeier was in the mix for a top spot on the podium. 

Ultimately, Sparta remained in the lead until the checkered flag, earning Random Vandals Racing’s first win of the season. Krainz was able to hold on to second place for RS1, with The Heart of Racing team rounding off the podium. 

“This is the best start to the season we've ever had and I was really getting tired of finishing second,” stated Paul Sparta. “They say one's a lonely number. I don't think it's lonely, but the crew just executed perfectly all weekend.”

Up Next 

The Pirelli GT4 America field will return for Rounds 5 at Circuit Of The Americas from May 17th to 19th, consisting of a unique three-hour race. Tickets can be purchased here

To follow the action from home, be sure to tune-in to SRO’s free livestreams on YouTube (GTWorld) and Twitch (SROMotorsports) and follow all the action through our social media channels.