Andrew Aquilante has claimed victory in Friday’s Pirelli World Challenge GTS season-opening round in St. Pete, in a dominant run for Phoenix Performance.
Aquilante took his No. 32 Ford Mustang Boss 302R to a 2.550-second victory over the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, in a race that went caution-free.
Aschenbach, who gave the Pratt & Miller-built car pole in its competition debut, lost the lead to Aquilante at the 13-minute mark, after the first four laps were run under the safety car due to overnight changes to the track.
It marked Aquilante’s fourth career PWC win and back-to-back, victories after taking top class honors in last year’s SprintX season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The No. 45 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 of Jade Buford completed the podium in third, after a late charge.
Both Buford and the fourth-place finishing No. 4 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR of Rodrigo Baptista benefited from electrical issues for the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 of Parker Chase, who finished 17th.
Chase, who qualified second, was running third at the time when the issues struck early in the running..
The No. 80 Mantella Autosport KTM X-Bow GT4 of Martin Barkey made it five different manufacturers in the top-five, with Nate Stacy sixth in the No. 14 Flying Lizard Porsche.
Both the No. 69 Ginetta of Harry Gottsacker and Ian James’ No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT failed to finish, with the Panoz pitting on the 8th lap with smoke billowing out of the rear of the car.
James had been running as high as 5th in the early stages of the 50-minute race.
The second and final GTS round of the weekend gets underway Saturday at 12:55 p.m. ET.
RESULTS: GTS Race 1