Jade Buford held off a hard-charging Harry Gottsacker to give the Ford Mustang GT4 its first overall victory in Pirelli World Challenge competition in Saturday’s inaugural SprintX round at Circuit of The Americas.
Buford took the No. 55 PF Racing Mustang GT4 to a 1.277-second win over the pole-sitting No. 69 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 of Gottsacker, which lost more than ten seconds during the mid-race pit stop.
The miscommunication from the Jon Mirachi-led team dropped Gottsacker to eighth with less 25 minutes to go, and handed the lead to Buford, following an opening stint by PWC debutant Scott Maxwell.
Gottsacker, meanwhile, rapidly carved his way through the field, at a rate oftentimes 1 to 1.5 seconds faster than the Mustang GT4, although came up short in the end.
It marked Buford’s first GTS victory since a sweep of the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park weekend last year, which ironically came in a Racers Edge-entered SIN GT4.
Maxwell, meanwhile, was victorious in his PWC debut, despite the car carrying 38 kg of penalty weight for its driver lineup.
The Canadian completed only two green flag laps, following a stop-start opening half of the 60-minute race that saw two lengthy full-course caution periods.
Contact between the No. 3 Epic Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 of Randy Mueller and Mike Hedlund’s No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4 at the start brought out the first yellow.
It was followed, just moments after the restart, by a spin from the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT of Matt Keegan, who got hit by Elian Sabo’s No. 8 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4.
The incident also collected the overall championship-leading No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, driven at the time by Andy Pilgrim, which sustained damage to the nose.
Pilgrim’s co-driver Lawson Aschenbach, however, managed to bring the wounded car home in seventh overall, while the sister Blackdog Camaro GT4 of Tony Gaples and Michael Cooper completed the overall podium in third.
The No. 14 GMG Audi of James Sofronas and Alex Welch was fourth, with Drew Staveley picking up GTS Am class honors with a fifth place overall result.
Race 2 gets underway at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday.
RESULTS: Race 1