GT America Kicks Off at St. Pete
Jason Daskalos and Memo Gidley shared out top honors in the opening round of the new GT America powered by AWS season on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Daskalos won the opening 40-minute, single-driver contest in his CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo after overtaking both Gidley and James Sofronas.
The race started under dramatic circumstances when Jeff Burton’s Mercedes-AMG clattered the wall at the exit of Turn 3. Reigning champion George Kurtz struck Burton and also retired, while pole-sitter Scott Smithson had an unrelated spin later on Lap 1.
That promoted Sofronas to the lead in his Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II, but Gidley and Daskalos dispatched the GMG Racing driver shortly after the restart with 25 minutes to go.
After a few laps of nose-to-tail running, Daskalos passed Gidley by squeezing between the leader and a GT4 backmarker to take the outside line into Turn 10.
Daskalos went on to take the win by just under a second, however Gidley bounced back in Race 2.
The TKO Motorsports driver out-braked pole-sitter Sofronas into Turn 1 and remained in front after a pair of safety car restarts for separate accidents for Andy Wilzoch and Ross Chouest.
In the final seven-minute sprint to the line, Gidley kept Sofronas and Daskalos at bay to prevail overall. GT4 honors went to Chouest in Race 1 and Jason Bell in Race 2.
News & Notes
***Team Parker Racing is returning to Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup after two seasons out. The British squad is set to run the new Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Bronze Cup class with Andy Meyrick, Kiern Jewiss and Derek Pierce forming the lineup. Parker last contested the Endurance Cup in 2020 with Bentley.
***Oregon Team will seek to defend its International GT Open title with two different driver pairings. The Italian squad last week confirmed that it will run Maximilian Paul and Pierre-Louis Chovet in one of its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2s, and Pietro Perolini and Daan Pijl in the other.
***One of the co-principals of the Oregon team, Jerry Canevisio, said: “We aim at retaining the title and we’ll go for it with a young pair, composed of Chovet and Paul. Similarly, Perolini and Pijl have all the cards to fight at the top. After taking the championship in our maiden season in GT3 racing, we come back with more experience and the same ambition.”
***Four teams have recently confirmed programs in the GT4 European Series. One is AGS Events, which will return with a pair of Aston Martin Vantage GT4s. Team owner Nicolas Gomar is teaming up with Mike Parisy in Pro-Am, while the second lineup is yet to be announced.
***Newly formed German team BCMC Motorsport is fielding a Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the European series with support from EastSide Motorsport. Marcel Lenerz and Marc de Fulgencio form the driver lineup. Furthermore, Alexandre Cougnaud and Gael Gastelli will share an Audi R8 LMS GT4 run by French squad CSA Racing.
***Former rally driver Manu Guigou has joined the GT4 European Series, working with Code Racing Development. Guigo drove an Alpine A110 in rally competitions and is now moving into the Renault brand’s GT4 model for a Silver Cup program.
***Alongside its GTWC Europe announcement last week, Garage 59 confirmed a pair of British GT lineups for its program with the updated McLaren 720S GT3 Evo. Marvin Kirchhoefer will partner team co-owner Alexander West in the No. 88 car, with Sky-Tempesta Racing’s Chris Froggatt and Kevin Tse in the No. 93. West is set for his first full season in British GT having mainly focused on GTWC Europe in past seasons.
***Optimum Motorsport is returning to British GT on a full-time basis for the first time since 2020 with McLaren entries in both GT3 and GT4. The team’s GT3 effort features McLaren factory driver Rob Bell alongside Mark Radcliffe. Optimum’s McLaren Artura GT4 will be driven by Jack Brown and Charles Clark.
***Another team running the new Artura in British GT this year is Paddock Motorsport, which has confirmed Kavi Jundu and Tom Rawlings as its driver pairing for the season.
***R Racing has also stated its British GT intentions with an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for the returning Josh Miller and new signing Seb Hopkins. Miller and Jamie Day finished third in the GT4 standings last year.
***The ACO’s Mission H24 program was present at a hydrogen power event organized by the European Commission last week. The project’s LMP3-based hydrogen prototype was unveiled in an updated livery outside the Autoworld museum in Brussels, where ACO President Pierre Fillon took part in the presentation.
***GTWC Asia has confirmed that four of last year’s Japan Cup teams will continue in the same division this year. Team Studie is bringing a BMW M4 GT3 for Seiji Ara and Tomohide Yamaguchi, while Kei Nakanishi and Shigekazu Wakisaka return for LM Corsa in a new Ferrari 296 GT3. McLaren team ABSSA Motorsport is also back with Keita Sawa as the first confirmed driver. Porsche Center Okazaki is graduating to the full GTWC Asia season, which includes the four Japanese rounds.
***TCR Scandinavia race winner Oliver Soderstrom will make his Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe debut with Target Racing. The drive is the result of a partnership between Lamborghini and the Swedish Touring Car Championship, which rewarded junior class champion Soderstrom with a test in the Huracan Super Trofeo EVO2.
***International GT Open will use Michelin’s Pilot Sport Cup GT tire this year, introducing a new product to the GT Sport-run series. The same tire has already been used in the DTM.
On this weekend: FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue (Sebring)