Jeff Kingsley claimed a flag-to-flag victory in Saturday’s opening Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama race of the weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, in a race that took a toll on much of the field.
Kingsley started from the pole and led the entire race, which was interrupted by three full-course cautions, had an eight-minute red-flag stoppage and finished under yellow.
It marked Kingsley’s ninth win of the season in the No. 16 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and allowed him to add three points on Riley Dickinson, his closest threat in the championship and the runner-up in Saturday’s race.
Kingsley jumped to the lead at the wave of the green flag Saturday, with Dickinson in the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche overtaking TJ Fischer’s No. 58 Topp Racing Porsche for second place heading into Turn 1 on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary circuit.
Soon after, though, the cars of Sean McAlister and Sebastian Carazo made contact, sending Carazo’s No. 27 Kelly-Moss Porsche hard into the Turn 3 wall. It brought out the first full-course caution and necessitated a red flag to allow for wall repairs.
The green flag returned with 15 minutes remaining and stayed out for seven laps before Fischer and Topp Racing teammate Kenny Murillo came together in Turn 4, forcing the second full-course caution.
A final restart came with just under 11 minutes remaining but was short-lived as Vernon McClure and Frank Raso collided while diving into Turn 1. McClure couldn’t get his car restarted, the yellow waved again and the race concluded under caution.
McAlister recovered from his early incident to finish third in the No. 11 JDX Racing Porsche. Charlie Luck finished fourth overall in the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche and won the Platinum Masters class for drivers 45 and older for the fourth straight race.
With only nine green-flag laps completed in the 24-lap race, Luck knew how important it was to remain focused.
In Gold Cup action for GT3 Cup cars built from 2014 to 2016, Efrin Castro led the entire way to earn his fifth win of the season and narrow the deficit to class leader Curt Swearingin to 15 points.
Making its Grand Prix of St. Petersburg debut this weekend, the series concludes with another 45-minute race at 12:40 p.m. ET Sunday, with live streaming available on IMSA.com.
RESULTS: Race 1