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GT World Challenge America

Utah Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday PWC notebook from Utah…

Photo: Brian Cleary/

***The No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Niccolo Schiro will start from pole for tomorrow’s SprintX Race 2, courtesy of setting the race’s fastest lap in Saturday’s round, which saw the Italian lose out on the win to the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 by just 0.228 seconds. Wilkins will start alongside the Ferrari in second.

***Wilkins and Peter Kox’s win marked the first for the Acura NSX GT3 in PWC competition and the first for both the team and manufacturer since Road America 2016 when Ryan Eversley swept the weekend. Saturday’s win was also the sixth different driver combination, team and manufacturer to win in the six SprintX races this year. 

***GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing had a challenging SprintX debut, with contract between the No. 99 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Wolf Henzler and Spencer Pumpelly’s No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS resulting in right-rear puncture for Henzler just ten minutes into the race. Henzler and co-driver Jon Fogarty finished 19th.

***While the team is set to complete the SprintX season at Circuit of The Americas next month, team owner Bob Stallings told Sportscar365 they are planning to return for a full-season campaign next year, which would include both Sprint and SprintX with its Porsche. Stallings said he’s in favor of slightly longer SprintX races with a “meaningful” pitstop, which appears to be in the cards for 2018.

***Jeff Courtney, who made a late-race pass on Martin Barkey for second, will start tomorrow’s GTS Race 2 from the pole. The race, which will be a standing start, will see Barkey line up alongside the Maserati GT4, with Race 1 winner Rodrigo Baptista set to roll off from fourth on the grid.

***Lawson Aschenbach finished 9th in the race, only his second non-podium finish of the season in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro GT4.R, which struggled for top speed and also overcame a left-rear puncture during the race’s second caution. The Camaro has struggled all weekend following a BoP change. “That was frustrating,” Aschenbach said. “In the end, the pit stop didn’t make a difference in our finishing position. We’ll try again tomorrow.”

***Aschenbach still holds the lead of the GTS championship, although his margin has been reduced, thanks to a third place finish for the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT of Ian James, who entered the weekend 87 points behind the Camaro driver.

***Drew Staveley, who entered the weekend in the GTSA class, was promoted to the pro GTS class overnight following his performance in practice and qualifying. The Ian Lacy Racing driver, who is an instructor at Utah Motorsports Campus, finished fifth overall on Saturday.

***Despite having taken part in practice, as a late addition to the entry list, the No. 46 TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Sloan Urry and Tom Haacker was withdrawn prior to qualifying, due to a driver-related decision. Urry, who was eager to make his first PWC start of the season, posted the quickest time in the GT Cup class on Friday.

***The new driving pairing of Michael Lewis and Bryan Sellers finished 10th in SprintX Race 1, in what team manager Thomas Blam said has been a successful match, other than a noted height difference between the two drivers. “We always give Bryan a little grief about his height. We did have to make some modifications [in the cockpit] but it really wasn’t an issue,” Blam told Sportscar365.

***Lewis and Sellers completed a single-day test at Sonoma Raceway prior to arriving at Utah, in order to begin building the chemistry. Lewis has moved over from the team’s Pro-Am class No. 98 McLaren 650S GT3, which was withdrawn following Mike Hedlund’s exit. “Working with Bryan is really cool,” Lewis told Sportscar365. “He’s a humble, understanding guy but when he says something, you really want to listen.”

***Utah marks the final PWC race for Jens Walther as President of Porsche Motorsport North America, with Dr. Daniel Armbruster set to take the helm of the company later this month. Armbruster, who was in charge of development of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, is on-site this weekend, meeting some of Porsche’s customer teams for the first time.

***The No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche had an unexpected “co-driver” on Friday, when the team discovered a mouse inside its front bumper. The mouse, named “Miller” for the former track owner Larry H. Miller, was alive and well following its wild ride in practice. 

***Greg Liefooghe, Shea Holbrook and P.J. Groenke claimed Touring Car class victories in Saturday’s opening round of the weekend. The 40-minute race was marred by a multi-car accident on the opening lap, which involved TC pole-sitter Paul Holton, forcing a four-lap caution period.

***Watch the second and final SprintX race of the weekend live on Motor Trend OnDemand, Sunday at 2:20 p.m. ET, with the GTS race set for 12:20 p.m.. CBS Sports Network will air delayed coverage of the SprintX races on Aug. 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET, and GTS on Aug. 23 at 9 p.m. ET.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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