Ryan Dalziel and Daniel Morad, driving the #2 CRP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 won the final round of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge SprintX championship to finish second in the overall drivers standings.
Second across the line, and 1.274 seconds behind, was the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Jörg Bergmeister and, taking the second stint, Patrick Long.
Taking the final podium position was the #4 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS driven by Pierre Kaffer and Spencer Pumpelly.
A delighted James Sofronas and Mathieu Jaminet won the SprintX-GT Pro/Am class in the #14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R and, in doing so, earned James Sofronas the Pro/Am drivers championship.
Second in the Pro/Am category, after pushing Sofronas hard in the closing laps, was the #54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen and Tim Pappas. Third place in class went to Jan Heylen and Michael Schein in the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Staring from fifth on the grid, Ryan Dalziel in the #2 Mercedes, ran as high as second behind Bergmeister in the #58 entry before the German driver pitted, allowing Dalziel to push hard before the driver change. Teammate Morad rejoined the 60-minute race in the lead. Although pressured by Long in the #58 car, Morad was able to control the race from the front and bring the #2 CRP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 home for the Harrisburg, NC-team’s second SprintX win of 2017.
Ryan Dalziel enjoyed the victory but felt disappointed with the overall season.
“We both did pretty good stints,” said Dalziel “I knew Jörg was holding me up so when they pitted early I was able to stretch that lap. We’re happy but we’re also disappointed. There were a couple of races that didn’t go our way otherwise we would have had the SprintX championship. We’ve had a rough one recently so we’re going to enjoy this tonight.”
“This one was Ryan’s,” said teammate Daniel Morad. “He did everything for me. I came out of the pits in the lead and that’s everything I would ever ask for. It was tough keeping the #58 car behind us. The Porsche was strong in the mid-part of the race but our Mercedes AMG was strong at the end. Tyre degradation held in there and I was happy to bring the win home for CRP Racing in the final round of the SprintX championship and second place overall in the championship.”
An incident between the #8 and the #31 entries on the first lap resulted in the elimination of both cars in the hunt for the championship, leaving Jordan Taylor and Michael Cooper, drivers of the #8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R as champions but also angry at the manner of their elimination.
“It’s a little bitter-sweet after being taken out by the #31 car,” said Cooper. “It looked like he (Schiró) rolled off the brake and rolled into us and ended up taking us out. That’s been the nature of this championship – avoid the #31 car. It’s really unfortunate that that’s how it’s gone.”
“Overall it was the bigger picture that we were looking at and it really stinks that we were taken out of that today. Seeing those guys work so hard to get the car back out there, I feel for them. They go into the shop nine-to-five, or later, five days a week for this whole year to get the car out there, trying to win the overall championship. A silly move by somebody without some thought ends up taking away all their hard work unfortunately.”
In Pro/Am, Mathieu Jaminet in the #14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R started the race from Pole Position and held the lead until the driver changes. Teammate James Sofronas then held second in class behind Tim Pappas in the #54 Black Swan Racing entry and the resulting final laps saw some close door-to-door action, with some contact, between the two experienced drivers.
Sofronas used all his skill and experience to take the lead on the final lap which he held to the chequered flag to take his first Pirelli World Challenge title.
“Mathieu is so fast that the tyres maybe at the front were a little less than I would like but the car was still good,” said Sofronas. “Mathieu gave me an excellent car and everything was good about it in terms of the balance. I was pushing the brakes harder because Tim was really good in the high-speed sweepers from first to third sector. I’d get him under braking towards the beginning and then at the end it was just pure grit and determination and experience with over 200 starts here.”
“I definitely had to pull some tricks on him,” continued Sofronas. “I knew where I could get him. We raced clean – a little bit of bumping back and forth and when I hit him I felt so bad because I just couldn’t stop the car. He turned kind of abrupt to get his line and I said ‘I’m stopping, guys, until he gets by me’. I fought him back. He got inside of me, we bumped, he got the position and I said ‘here we go!’ last lap – it’s now or never!”
Other winners in the multi-class race included Yuki Harata and Alessandro Bressan in GT Cup Pro/Am in the #55 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán, Henrique Cisneros and Peter Ludwig in the #30 MOMO/NGT Motorsports Ferrari F458 GT3 in GT Am/Am, Cory Friedman and Joe Toussaint in the #90 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Derek DeBoer and Sean Gibbons in GTS Am/Am and Adam Merzon and Trent Hindman in GTS Pro/Am.
The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season reaches its penultimate round at Sonoma Raceway on September 15 – 17 for the final rounds of the GT/GTA, GT Cup and GT4/GTS classes.
Photo courtesy of World Challenge