CLASSIC BMW’s McALEER & RAPHAEL WIN GT4 SPRINTX OVERALL SATURDAY AT VIR;
HART/TRAVIS DUO TAKES 2ND & PRO-AM WIN, KOZAROV/BURTON PAIR TOP AM CLASS
ALTON, Va. – A great come-from-behind drive by Scotland’s Stevan McAleer gave the Fast Track Racing/Classic BMW driving combination with Justin Raphael in recording the team’s first Pirelli GT4 America SprintX overall Saturday in the Blancpain GT World Challenge weekend at the famed VIRginia International Raceway.
The veteran McAleer came from eighth after a caution period in the middle of the 50-minute GT4 event with the #29 Raphael & Associates/Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4 and passed leader Jason Hart on lap 20 in the 26-lap contest at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road circuit. The win for McAleer and Raphael of Franklin, N.J., was their first overall SprintX victory after a second last year at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). In addition, the pair won the SprintX East Pro-Am honors Saturday with the 2.223-second victory.
On Friday, Raphael experience an off-track excursion into the tire barrier in the practice rounds and the Fast Track Racing team had to make some repairs overnight. But the #29 machine was quick in qualifying and during the race.
Pole winner Kris Wilson drove the #16 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 GT4 sports car to the lead early over Randy Mueller in the #3 Epic Motorsports BMW M4 GT4, Hart’s teammate, Matt Travis in the #47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport MR and young Jarett Andretti in the #36 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4.
A long caution period of five laps kept everyone in place after a collision with Michael Dinan in the #21 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport MR and Rich Golinello in the #55 Kohr Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 in turn five. Wilson held his margin until the mid-point of the race when pit stops and driver changes occurred.
McAleer was able to track down the leading cars and used the BMW’s straight line speed to slide by Hart for the lead. Hart was able to continue to apply the pressure but had to settle for the runner-up spot in the #47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR machine.
Third overall and second in the Pro-Am class went to the team of Greg Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan in the #19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 followed by Mueller and James Clay in the #3 Epic Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 (first in the SprintX E Am class) and the Classic BMW team car to McAleer/Raphael with Toby Grahovec and Chris Ohmacht in the #92 VETS Indexes/Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4 (third in SprintX Pro-Am).
Rounding out the top-ten overall in Round 3 of the GT4 SprintX tour was Marko Radisic/Karl Wittmer in the #22 Precision Racing Tech BMW M4 GT4, Jeff Burton/Vesko Kozarov in the #91 Rearden Racing Audi R8 LMS, Anthony Geraci/Elivan Goulart in the #27 KRUGSPEED Ginetta G55, Jarett Andretti/Karl Thomson in the #36 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4 and CJ Moses/James Sofronas in the GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS.
In addition, the Burton/Kozarov pair took top honors in the GT4 SprintX Am category Saturday over Andretti/Thomson and Moses/Sofronas.
STEVAN McALEER (#29 Raphael & Associates/Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4):
“Greg Liefooghe was giving me a run for my money early in the race. I was trying to conserve the tires and I notice one of the Caymans was coming back to us. So, I just put my foot down and this is the best the BMW M4 has been all weekend. The Classic BMW crew did an incredible job with the job and Justin ran well. You have to have two good drivers in this GT4 class to win it. I came from Scotland in 2006 and living out a suitcase. I was lucky enough to hook up with Justin and the Classic BMW team. We got second last year at COTA and I know Justin wanted a win very badly this year. I’m so glad we could pull it off this early in the season. Hoping for another strong showing now on Sunday in Race 2.”
JUSTIN RAPHAEL (#29 Raphael & Associates/Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4):
On Friday, I got the car onto the grass and slid into the tire barrier. The team was unbelievable getting the car back together. We got the car out on track this morning and it was fantastic. It was exciting stint for me in the beginning today, and you know when you turn the car over to Stevan that we are in good hands. When I got out, I told Stevan was watch the track surface as it was slick in various spots and some car were dropping some fluids. The car was loose in those spots and be prepared. He like a loose car anyway. It was good situation for us.”
JASON HART (#47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport MR GT4):
“It’s pretty simple. We run a very calculated program and I was instructed what exactly what me job was today. We wanted to win the America SprintX Pro-Am class and that is what we did. We just ran our race and Stevan’s pace was quicker today. Overall, it was textbook and doing what the engineers wanted us to do. Win our class.”
MATT TRAVIS (#47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport MR GT4):
“It’s fun to race with Jason and take the class win today. Our goal on Sunday is to do the same thing as today. We are going to run our best race. Jason will start the race and get through everything clean. Then I’ll take over and hopefully get to the front again. And on the winner’s podium.”