Ian James scored a surprise victory in Saturday’s Pirelli GT4 America Sprint race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after tire troubles hit both title contenders Spencer Pumpelly and Michael Cooper with two laps to go.
James, who was running third at the time in his No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT4, took a 15.364-second win over the No. 18 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4 of Jarett Andretti in second.
It came after race leader Spencer Pumpelly ducked into the pits with a right-rear puncture to his No. 66 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport with two minutes remaining in the 50-minute race.
Seconds later, Michael Cooper, who mounted an impressive charge through the field to second after dropping to 10th due to a braking error into the infield, sustained a right-front puncture to his Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren 570S GT4.
The late-race issues have provisionally handed the Pro championship lead to James, who heads into tomorrow’s season finale with a 16.5-point lead over Cooper.
Pumpelly finished 10th in the race, with Cooper classified 18th overall.
The No. 42 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 of Jade Buford, meanwhile, completed the overall podium in third, followed by teammate Shane Lewis in fourth.
Drew Staveley claimed GT4 Am class honors in his No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang GT4 ,which finished fifth overall.
Race 2 is set for Sunday at 9 a.m. PT.
RESULTS: Race 1