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Blancpain GT America

Road America Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday SRO Motorsports America notebook from Road America…

Photo: John Dagys

***Blancpain GT World Challenge America Race 1 winner Toni Vilander said he wasn’t worried about the late-race restart, which bunched up the field following a controlling run by the No. 61 Ferrari 488 GT3. “I think my engineer was more nervous,” Vilander said. “He just kept talking so I said the famous Finnish words ‘Shut Up I know what to do.’ In the end it worked out well.”

***Vilander has provisionally extended his championship lead to 51 points over K-PAX Racing’s Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek. The R. Ferri duo could lock up the title tomorrow should they leave Road America with a 50-point lead.

***The No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT4 of Ian James is undergoing an engine change following power-related issues in Saturday’s Pirelli GT4 America Sprint race. James made a last-lap pass on Alan Brynjolfsson to finish 10th overall and claim a single championship point.

***James provisionally heads into tomorrow’s race one point behind Race 1 winner Michael Cooper, with Spencer Pumpelly four points back in third in the GT4 Sprint Pro drivers’ standings.

***Murillo Racing is under the full command of Kenny Murillo for the first time this weekend, with his father, team owner Ken, at a wedding. Christian Szymczak and Matt Fassnacht claimed overall victory in Saturday’s SprintX Race 1.

***It marked the seventh victory of the GT4 America season for Mercedes-AMG, all won by Murillo, either in Sprint or SprintX competition.

***A number of GT4 SprintX/East teams were left confused following the chaotic 60-minute race, which was red-flagged and restarted by series officials due to rain. It came despite the declaration of a wet race prior to the start.

***An incident between the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and Alvaro Parente’s No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 in GT World Challenge America Race 1 was initially under review by race stewards, although no action was apparently taken.

***Matt Keegan claimed victory in the first Saleen Cup race of the weekend after starting from last on the grid. Keegan told Sportcar365 he sprinted from his Panoz Avezzano GT4 he qualified moments earlier to the Saleen Cup grid, only to see the cars already leaving on the formation lap, forcing him to relinquish his 6th starting position.

***Keegan came from 13th to take over the lead following the mid-race pit stop with a move around Carter Fartuch for the win. Race 2 takes place Sunday at 4:10 p.m. CT. Keegan also claimed class honors later in the day, aboard his Panoz in the GT4 SprintX Am class. 

***James Sofronas is set to debut the new Audi R8 LMS GT2 car in next weekend’s Blancpain GT Sports Club race at Barcelona, with the GMG Racing team owner/driver having been invited by Audi to drive the Team WRT-prepared car in its first race.

***Sofronas is slated to get his first laps in Audi’s GT2 contender in a test at Paul Ricard on Monday. The Californian will become the first driver to drive multiple SRO GT2 cars in competition, having run in the Porsche Motorsport GT2 Supersportscar Weekend at Spa in July in his new Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport.

***It’s understood GMG has four additional GT2-spec Porsches on order in addition to the two for Sofronas and client Jason Bell, who also took part in the single-make race at Spa.

***A five-round championship is planned for SRO America’s newly announced GT2 Sports Club America next year. Porsche’s GT2 car will also be eligible in the Porsche Sports Trophy USA West by Yokohama in 2020.

***The second GT4 Sprint race of the weekend kicks off activities at 10:05 a.m. CT, followed by GT4 SprintX/East at 12:10 p.m. and GT World Challenge at 2:15 p.m. Both GT4 races will be live streamed on the series’ official website, with CBS Sports Network carrying live coverage of the 90-minute GT3 race.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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