Kurtz Takes Early GT America Points Lead
George Kurtz emerged from the opening weekend of the GT America powered by AWS season at the top of the drivers’ standings after finishing third and first in the two races at St. Petersburg.
The CrowdStrike Racing by Riley Motorsports driver earned 40 points with his brace of podiums in the curtain-raiser for SRO America’s championship for Bronze-rated competitors.
Jason Daskalos was the first winner of the weekend in his Audi R8 LMS ultra after managing to hold off the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos driven by Scott Smithson and Kurtz.
The 40-minute race started in dramatic fashion when Chris Cagnazzi’s Mercedes-AMG GT4 clattered into Jeff Burton’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo at the first corner, causing a cleanup that consumed almost half of the running time.
When the safety car retreated with 23 minutes remaining, Daskalos put up a robust defense to keep Smithson and Kurtz at bay and secure the first win of the year.
Kurtz then went two better in the second race, finishing ahead of Smithson in second and Justin Wetherill who took third for Ferrari squad Triarsi Competizione.
Kurtz put on a controlled performance and was 16 seconds clear of Smithson when the race was placed under a terminal FCY period due to an accident for Porsche GT4 driver Derek DeBoer.
GT4 honors at St. Pete were shared by Marko Radisic in a BMW M4 GT4 and Jason Bell in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4, although the highest-finishing driver in a GT4 car in Race 2 was Robb Holland who beat Bell in an Invitational-class Porsche.
GT America returns to action at Sonoma Raceway on April 15-17.
***Street-Art Racing has taken the wraps off its ‘art car’ Aston Martin Vantage GT3 ahead of the International GT Open season. The vibrant livery has been created by Belgian artist Christophe de Fierlant, whose uncle Hughes won the 24 Hours of Spa in 1975.
***Street-Art team principal Albert Bloem explained: “When I was a driver myself, I used to ask an artist to decorate my car. That is where the name of our team comes from: Street in reference to cars you can see on the streets and Art for their artistic paintwork.”
***Zelus Motorsports will continue in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS with two Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos. One features former K-PAX Racing man Corey Lewis alongside Jeff Burton, who previously drove for Rearden Racing. Jason Harward and Madison Snow will continue in the other Zelus Lamborghini, while Harward and Burton are also representing the team in GT America.
***After racing in the National class at the Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour, South African driver Mikaeel Pitamber will line up for Heide Motorsport in the DTM Trophy. Heide is once again fielding three Audi R8 LMS GT4s in the second-tier DTM series.
***DTM competitor Muecke Motorsport will also run in DTM Trophy. The German outfit is entering the championship for the first time with a BWT-liveried Mercedes-AMG GT4 for 17-year-old Mozambican racer and Trophy rookie Rodrigo Almeida.
“We’ve had our eye on him for some time now and are delighted that he is set to drive for us this year,” said team boss Peter Muecke. “We aim to make it possible for him to move into the sports saloon racing sector at a high level in a professional environment.”
***T3 Motorsport has gained the services of Lamborghini factory driver Marco Mapelli for its ADAC GT Masters program with the Italian manufacturer. Mapelli will team up with Maximilian Paul, who recently drove for T3 in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
***Several LMP2 and GT teams are in action at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Monday and Tuesday for a pre-season tire test hosted by Goodyear.
***Ben Collins, the former BBC Top Gear Stig, and SAS veteran Jay Morton have re-signed with Praga as official drivers for the 2022 season. They will share a Praga R1 in the new Praga Cup which kicks off at Silverstone next month.
***Balfe Motorsport will run an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II in British GT. The team unveiled its new car outside the medieval Lincoln Cathedral, once the tallest building in the world. Adam Carroll and Shaun Balfe will share driving duties. Last year Balfe ran a McLaren 720S GT3 for Stewart and Lewis Proctor.
***Carroll is also booked in for a season in the GT4 European Series with British outfit Greystone GT. Carroll and Tim Whale – who is set for his first racing spell in two decades – are the drivers of Greystone’s second confirmed GT4 European effort.
***Fox Motorsport will embark on its first full-time GT3 campaign in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship with a McLaren 720S GT3. Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley will share the wheel, maintaining the partnership that finished second in the GT4 Pro-Am ranks last season with a Fox-run McLaren 570S GT4.
***DTM Trophy runner-up Will Tregurtha has replaced Andy Meyrick alongside Mark Sansom in Assetto Motorsport’s Bentley Continental GT3 for the British GT season. Meyrick’s other racing commitments including a program in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which clashes twice with British GT at the start and end of the season, are preventing the ex-Bentley factory driver from taking up the domestic seat. Tregurtha is set for his British GT3 debut and brings Assetto into the Silver-Am class from Pro-Am.
***Tom Dillmann will drive for Racing Spirit of Leman in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, as part of the French team’s entry with two Ligier JS P320 Nissans. Dillmann’s co-driver is yet to be announced, while Josh Skelton and Jacques Wolff share the sister entry.
***Reigning Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Silver Cup champion Alex Fontana has signed to drive for Porsche Centri Ticino in the GT4 European Series. Fontana, who drove GT3 Lamborghinis for Emil Frey Racing last year, will combine with Ivan Jacoma in a new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport. The pair will compete in Pro-Am.
***24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Dirk Mueller has put his 2019 Ford GT road car up for sale. At the time of this article’s publication, the vehicle had a highest bid of $1.25 million.
***Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America driver William Hubbell has passed away at the age of 58. Hubbell achieved several class podiums with Wayne Taylor Racing in recent years and finished second in the 2019 Pro-Am standings.
***1979 Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Danny Ongais, best known for his careers in IndyCar and drag racing, passed away on Feb. 26 of congestive heart complications. He was 79. Ongais, nicknamed the ‘Flyin’ Hawaiian’, won at Daytona sharing a Porsche 935 with Hurley Haywood and Ted Field at the pinnacle of his IMSA exploits.