Pirelli World Challenge GTS points leader Lawson Aschenbach broke through for his first series win of the season and extended his massive championship lead, holding off Ian James to win Race 1 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The win is the first for the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R in PWC although the Blackdog Speed Shop squad and Aschenbach have finished off the podium just once this season.
Aschenbach took the top spot on the initial start, motoring past pole-sitter Harry Gottsacker’s Ginetta G55 just before the first full course caution period that went into effect moments later, and would go on to lead every lap.
Road America double-winner Ian James charged from eighth on the grid to finish second in the Panoz Avezzano GT, holding off Gottsacker by 0.364 seconds at the line.
James has now recorded podium finishes in four of the past five races after going without a podium in the first six races of the season.
George Kurtz took fourth overall in the No. 04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4 and won the GTSA category, while Parker Chase finished in fifth in his No. 19 Ginetta.
The race was slowed twice by lengthy caution periods, the first of which came just after the initial start.
Flying Lizard Motorsports driver Rodrigo Baptista made an aggressive move to make it three wide coming to the green flag, dropping his right-side wheels in the grass in the process.
Baptista appeared to make contact with the No. 89 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 of Fred Roberts, sending the Canadian driver hard into the outside wall.
Baptista, who entered the weekend third in GTS points, was excluded from the remainder of the race for the contact.
Roberts was able to walk away from the crash after the safety crew underwent a lengthy extraction and entered an ambulance with minimal assistance. He was checked by the on-site medical team and sent to a nearby hospital for observation in a precautionary measure.
The second caution period was prompted by contact between GTSA points leader Tony Gaples, the No. 99 Maserati of Jeff Courtney, and the No. 62 KRP McLaren of Mark Klenin.
The cars of Klenin and Courtney suffered significant damage and Gaples was issued a stop and hold penalty for initiating the incident.
Race 2 of the weekend is scheduled for Sunday at 9:05 a.m. ET.
RESULTS: Race 1