RealTime Racing took its first win of the season, and the first for the Acura NSX GT3, when Mark Wilkins brought the #93 entry he shares with Peter Kox home to win Round Seven of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge SprintX GT championship at Utah Motorsports Campis.
The #93 car was pushed hard over the closing laps by the #31 TR3 Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 piloted by Daniel Mancinelli and, driving the second stint, Niccolò Schirò which finished second, just .228 seconds behind at the chequered flag.
Taking the final podium position in the Pro/Pro category was the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Patrick Long and Jörg Bergmeister.
The GT Pro/Am category was won by the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Michael Schein and Jan Heylen, 1.123 seconds ahead of the #14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, piloted by Mathieu Jaminet and James Sofronas.
Completing the podium positions in the Pro/Am class was the #44 Magnus Racing Audi RS 8 LMS with Marco Seefried and John Potter sharing the driving duties.
Winner in the GT Am/Am category was the #30 MOMO / NGT Motorsports Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Henrique Cisneros and Jonathan Ziegelman with the #013 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari F458 GT3, driven by Kris Wilson and Drew Regitz finishing second in class.
Peter Kox, driving the first stint in the #93 RealTime Racing Acura, led the field away from pole position and held a lead of a second over Daniel Mancinelli in the #31 TR3 Racing entry for the first half of the race. As the driver changes approached it was the Dutch driver who headed for the pit-lane first, allowing Mancinelli to take the lead.
After the pit-stops had cycled through, it was Schirò in the #31 car that held the lead but a spin for the Italian caused by some light rain and pressure from Wilkins allowed the #93 Acura to take the lead with just over 15 minutes left to run.
Schirò pushed hard over the closing laps and seemed that he might snatch victory with the chequered flag in sight but Wilkins held on to take Acura’s first win with the NSX GT3.
A hoarse Wilkins was delighted at the win.
“That was like a few years back – it was that close,” said the Canadian driver. “This Acura NSX was awesome – you can’t say enough about RealTime, HPD and Acura – what a wonderful car! These guys have been working so hard. I feel a bit bad because they’ve been working so hard and I get in and they give me a nice car to drive.”
“Kudos to Peter Kox – he drove awesome,” continued Wilkins. “It was great to get the pole and run up front. I was a bit nervous – I tried to keep my head on! it was a very good result to get that P1 for Acura.”
“It’s nice to get this win for Acura”, said team-mate Kox. “Peter and RealTime Racing have done a great job with this car all weekend. Throughout the season we’ve been developing it. We’re plugging away at it, one race at a time. It helped that we had the right track position.”
Niccolò Schirò, driver of the #31 TR3 Ferrari F488 GT3 accepted responsibility for not taking the win for the team.
“The spin was caused by the rain and it shouldn’t have happened. I’m sorry for the team for the result but it’s important points. Let’s see tomorrow for a win.”
In Pro/Am the Pole-sitting #75 Always Evolving / AIM Autosport Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 with Frank Montecalvo at the wheel held the class lead for the opening 10 minutes of the race until a puncture to the rear left tire forced New Jersey-based driver into the pits, allowing the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – with Michael Schein at the wheel – to move to the front.
Despite coming under pressure from James Sofronas in the #14 GMG Racing Porsche, Schein passed the #16 car over team-mate Jan Heylen still leading the class. Mathieu Jaminet in the #14 entry pushed hard but was unable to close the gap, allowing Heylen to take the win with a 2.872 second margin at the chequered flag.
Jan Heylen knew he had the class battle under control over the final laps.
“We were just cruising (in the closing laps). Wright Motorsports and Porsche gave us a really good car and Mike’s last lap was stunning. We had a good out-lap and a good first two laps of my stint and then we just basically maintained the gap. It got a little close at the end with the Ferrari holding us up but all in all it was a perfect race.”
Team-mate Michael Schein was quick to pay tribute to the team and the manufacturer after taking the win.
“First off, thanks to Wright Motorsports and Porsche,” said Schein. “It took a lot of work to get the car where it is today. It’s been a struggle all weekend but we got it right today.”
“James (Sofronas) got past me with the whole tussle with the Gainsco car and the Audi. I got a good run coming out of Turn Three and the opportunity was there and I had to take it. I gave Jan the car in the lead and he drove a great race all the way and we’re happy to get the win.”
GT Cup Pro / Am class honours went to the #95 Tool Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry driven by Andy Lee and Erich Joiner. The GT Cup Am / Am class was won by Joe Toussaint and Cory Friedman in the #90 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 9011 GTS Cup entry. In the GTS classes Adam Merzon and Trent Hindman won in the Pro/Am category with #01 Case-It Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR with the Am/Am class being won by the #47 NOLAsport Porsche Cayman GT4, piloted by Jason Hart and Matt Travis.
Round Eight of the GT-X, GTC-X and GTS-X championship takes place on Sunday August 13 at 12:30 local time.