Ian James, driving the #50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT, took his sixth podium of the season and his fourth win out of six starts in the GTS Pro class of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge.
Drew Staveley in the #12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 pushed James hard in the closing laps and finished .588 seconds behind the Englishman. Third overall was the #14 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR driven by Nate Stacy who snatched the final overall podium spot from George Kurtz, driving the #04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4 on the final turn.
Although fourth overall, Kurtz won the GTSA class ahead of Frank Gannett in the #24 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55. Adam Merzon in the #017 Case-It Racing Porsche GT4 Clubsport MR took the final podium spot in the Am class.
Jeff Courtney in the #99 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT MC GT4 started from pole but Ian James in the #50 Panoz got a great start from second on the grid, taking the lead in the opening laps. Martin Barkey, in the #80 Mantella Autosport KTM Xbow GT4, was due to start alongside Courtney on the front row but was demoted to the back of the grid due to an overnight engine change.
George Kurtz in the #04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4 got the best start of the field when he moved up from eighth to second on the opening lap. Kurtz took the overall lead at the re-start after a brief safety car period following a spin into the gravel by Jason Bell in the #2 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4.
Kurtz held the overall lead for eight minutes but Ian James found his rhythm and passed Kurtz for the lead with 32 minutes to go.
“Yeah, it was an amazing race today,” said Ian James. “The Ginetta with Staveley was really close the whole time but it was dicing backwards and forwards. It was such a great place to do it. It used to be Miller Motorsport Park and the Miller family were a big part of my racing. I now race for Don Panoz and we’re in the winners circle again.”
James was quick to acknowledge Team Panoz Racing’s effort in getting his fourth win.
“These guys don’t give up. They just keep digging and digging. We didn’t have the fastest car but we had the best team and the best strategy and we got it to first place.”
With two Am class wins at Utah Motorsports Park to make seven class wins in total for the season, with five consecutive victories, George Kurtz was happy with how the race had played out.
“We had a great start,” said Kurtz. “GMG gave me a great car and made some set-up changes for today. I just had a fantastic start and led for a bit. We had some pressure from behind but I think we got a pretty good result.”
“I was trying to hold off Nate (Stacy) for most of the time. Credit to him – I got a little bit sideways in that last lap and I think it was a photo finish. So (he’s a) great driver and we had a heck of a race and I hope the fans enjoyed it.”
With Kurtz’s closest challenger in the GTSA Drivers Championship standings, Tony Gaples, retiring after one lap, Kurtz will extend his lead further at the top of the table.
A safety care period was called after Round 13 winner Rodrigo Baptista in the #3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR tangled with the #99 Maserati GT MC GT4 of pole-sitter Jeff Courtney while dicing for fifth place.
GTS Drivers Standings leader Lawson Aschenbach, driving the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4, finished fifth overall and fourth in class, allowing Ian James to close the gap to Aschenbach at the top of the table with four rounds left to go in the 2017 Championship.
Rounds 15 and 16 will be held at Circuit of the Americas on September 1 to 3.