Michael Cooper went wire-to-wire Saturday to overall victory in the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint race at Sonoma Raceway in a close, thrilling duel that saw Blackdog Speed Shop take its first win with McLaren.
Cooper claimed a 0.394-second triumph in the No. 10 McLaren 570S GT4 over the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT4 of Ian James.
The result unofficially moves Cooper, a McLaren Automotive factory driver, to the GT4 Sprint drivers championship.
The three-time series champion took the field to the green flag and instantly opened a 1.5 second lead over James and Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 66 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
Drew Staveley in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang GT4 moved from fifth to fourth overall with an aggressive pass over Robinson Racing’s Shane Lewis, while earning a commanding lead on his class rivals.
Ten minutes into the event saw the sole safety car bunch the field back together after the No. 74 Robinson Racing Camaro GT4.R of Gar Robinson and No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Sean Quinlan collided at turn four, ending Quinlan’s day.
Robinson would continue, but fall to 20th.
CRP Racing’s Matt Brabham would benefit from the caution after having to start from the back of the field due to the No. 20 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR being late to pre-grid.
Brabham would move up to tenth before the caution struck and go on to finish an impressive fourth in class, fifth overall.
With 30 minutes remaining the field went back to green where Cooper was once again able to gap the Panoz of James and open up a lead of 1.3 seconds.
With 15 minutes to go James would slowly start to reel in the leading McLaren of Cooper, closing to within 0.2 seconds. Despite pulling along-side the McLaren at the hairpin, the Panoz driver would not be able to get past Cooper and would settle for second after an intense last-lap battle.
Pumpelly, Brabham, and Jarrett Andretti rounded out the top-five in Pro.
Staveley Picks up GT4 Am Class Honors
Drew Staveley cruised to the Amlncass victory in his Mustang GT4, finishing fourth overall.
Behind Staveley in the Am category was the No. 7 Park Place Porsche of Alan Brynjofsson and Jeff Burton in the No. 91 Rearden Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4.
Tony Gaples came home fourth in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren with Toby Grahovec in the No. 26 Classic BMW fifth.
Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Race 2 begins on Sunday at 8:30 am PT with live streaming being shown on the series streaming platform at live.sro-america.com.
RESULTS: Race 1