Rodrigo Baptista, driving the #3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR took his fourth win of the season in Race Two, Round 16, of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GTS championship at the Circuit of the Americas.
Second across the line, and 2.762 seconds behind Baptista, was the #19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 driven by Parker Chase. Chase had also been promoted to second place in Round 15 due to the disqualification of race winner Scott Dollahite.
Taking the final podium spot was Jeff Courtney, driving the #99 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4.
Starting from fifth on the grid for Race Two, Baptista got away cleanly, quickly moving into second place at Turn One and passed Harry Gottsacker in the #69 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 for the lead later in the lap.
Chase also got past Gottsacker for second place which he held despite pressure from his teammate.
Jeff Courtney in the #99 JCR Motorsports Maserati took third place on the final lap after a spin by Gottsacker, who eventually finished fifth.
Sao Paulo-based Baptista was delighted at the victory.
“I think I won the race on the start. The Ginetta was really fast in the race and on the turns. Yeah, that was a really good race.”
The GTSA class was won by George Kurtz in the #04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4, making it the Arizona-based driver’s eighth straight win and his ninth of the season. Second in the Am class was Bob Michaelian in the #45 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4.
“It was quite a battle,” said Kurtz. “We didn’t have the start that we wanted and we had to come back from behind but we battled through and fought our way up to the front in the Am category. We had a good battle with (Keith) Jensen so hopefully it was good for the fans and it was exciting being the driver.”
Kurtz is looking forward to Sonoma Raceway on September 15 and the final two rounds of the GTS championship.
“Yes, absolutely,” said Kurtz. “That’s one of the most spectacular venues and it’s a great place to close out the season. Like we’ve done all season, we’ll just put our heads down and keep chipping way, hopefully be consistent and hang round for the best results we could possibly get.”
Lawson Aschenbach, driving the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, finished ninth after a penalty for crossing the pit-exit blend line and has now provisionally claimed the GTS Drivers Championship. The Florida-based driver was frustrated with the penalty but pleased to have won his fifth Pirelli World Challenge championship.
“(I’m) obviously pleased with the championship,” said Aschenbach. “I’ve got to say thanks to Blackdog Speed Shop and Chevrolet. The GT4 R has been a great car all year and it sort of makes up for the situation we were in last year. All the hard work and dedication by everybody at GM, Pratt and Miller and all the teams really showed this year and to be able to get the championship is a big thing. But we’re not done. We want to clinch the Teams (Championship) and we want to get the Manufacturers.”
“Obviously today I’m really disappointed in that penalty,” continued Aschenbach. “When you’re below someone and you hit a blend line I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do. Should I slam on the brakes and stop or should I turn right and take the whole field out? (I was) very disappointed in that whole deal but at least we were able to claw back to a top-ten spot and salvage what we could. That was really frustrating. By otherwise we won the championship and it’s Number Five so I couldn’t be happier.”
Ian James, second in the drivers points standings, did not finish after the #50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT came into the pits on the second lap with a vibration. The provisional winner of the weekend’s first race was unable to re-join.
The final two rounds of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GTS championship will be held at Sonoma Raceway, California on September 15 – 17.
Photo courtesy of World Challenge