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COTA PWC Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday Pirelli World Challenge notebook from Circuit of The Americas…

Photo: Brian Cleary/PWC

***Scott Maxwell and Jade Buford, who gave the Ford Mustang GT4 its first Pirelli World Challenge class victory in Saturday’s GTS SprintX Race 1 at Circuit of The Americas, also hold the honor of having the first-ever win for the car in global competition, in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge round at Sebring last year.

***Ironically, the duo had not driven together since that race, more than a year ago. “It’s special when you get the first win for a manufacturer; it always stays with you for the rest of your life,” Buford told Sportscar365.

***Harry Gottsacker, who made an impressive comeback run in the No. 69 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 to finish second, believes he could have challenged for the win. “Definitely, maybe. A lap or two, it would have been a good race,” he told Sportscar365.

***Gottsacker lost more than ten seconds in the pits due to a “miscommunication” with the team over the minimum pit lane time of 77 seconds. The Silver-rated driver, who was driving solo, had been leading at the time.

***The No. 38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Nick Wittmer will start GTS Race 2 from the pole, in a 1-2-3-4 sweep of BMWs that set the fastest laps in Race 1. Gottsacker, meanwhile, will roll off from fifth on the grid. Click Here for the Race 2 grid.

***Moments after claiming victory in the first TC race of the weekend, Vesko Kosarov traded his Nissan 370Z for Reardon Racing’s Audi R8 LMS GT4 to pit from the GTS lead. Kosarov and co-driver Ace Robey finished 8th in the GTS Am class.

***Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina’s dominant victory in the GT SprintX race marked both drivers’ first career Pirelli World Challenge wins and the first for R. Ferri Motorsport since Long Beach 2015, when Olivier Beretta plowed his way to the win.

***It came with heavy hearts, with team owner Remo Ferri again not on-site due to the death of his father. Ferri’s brother passed away in Italy earlier this month, which saw him miss the season-opener in St. Pete.

***Vilander credited the quick pit work, having completed their stop in 77.3 seconds, within three-tenths of the minimum pit lane delta. “We practice it quite it a lot; Miguel has good experience, also from Blancpain, so his input, the things we had on the car and the information we got,” the Finn told Sportscar365. “That was the target. we were aiming to be close on the minimum time.”

***A storming opening lap by Alec Udell in the No. 41 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3, who jumped from 9th to 2nd, came undone following contact between teammate Mathieu Jaminet and the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Andy Soucek, who went onto finish sixth.

***Udell picked up the Optima Battery Best Start award. “I think some people got checked up ahead of me right before the start and I managed to pick off a few cars,” he told Sportscar365. “I left a good gap and was able to get on the power soon and take the Loci machine out to the front.”

***Both Jaminet and Soucek were reported to the stewards post-race, along with Jeff Segal and Ryan Dalziel, who had contact on the final lap that resulted in Dalziel’s TruSpeed Autosport Audi R8 LMS GT3 not finishing the race.

***PWC officials handed Segal’s No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari a 72-second post-race penalty for causing a collision, dropping Segal and co-driver Wei Lu to a fourth place Pro-Am class finish.

***Fabian Schiller impressed in his PWC debut, with the 20-year-old German finishing second in the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. It came after only getting the call from Mercedes-AMG on Tuesday, and arriving late Thursday after a delay in securing his ESTA visa waiver.

***Schiller told Sportscar365 that he plans to now complete the SprintX season alongside Daniel Morad.

***After setting the fastest lap in Race 1, Segal, in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari, will start Sunday’s Race 2 from the pole, ahead of Saturday’s winner Molina and the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche of Wolf Henzler. Click Here for the starting grid.

***The No. 99 JCR Maserati GT4 of Jeff Courtney did not start the GTS race, while alternator issues for Marko Radisic’s Ferrari 458 Challenge saw a reduced 18-car starting field in the GT/GT Cup race.

***Despite a heavy accident during the race, the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT of Ian James and Matt Keegan is expected to be on the grid for the second GTS race tomorrow. “It will be a lot of work but we think we can fix it,” James told Sportscar365.

***While missing Saturday’s action due to an engine rebuild, the Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R is expected to be ready for Race 2 tomorrow, according to Reeves Callaway. The rebuilt engine arrived in the paddock, in the back of a pickup truck, late Saturday.

***In a strange twist, Nate Stacy, driver of the No. 52 KohR Motorsports Mustang GT4, waved the green flag for the GTS race. Stacy teamed with Dean Martin, who was a late addition, to finish 9th overall in that race.

***Pirelli has brought 2,250 tires to COTA for the GT, GTS, TCR, TC and TCA races, with the exclusive tire provider having a team of 20 personnel working from six truck to service the 100-plus entries. It marks the first of five weekends this year with all five classes in action.

***Next month’s GT and GTS invitational round at Long Beach is set to feature a 20-plus car grid, with eight GTS cars now expected alongside at least 14 confirmed GT3 machines. It includes the No. 41 GMG Porsche of Udell as well as an additional Porsche GT3 car from another team. 

***Racing resumes Sunday beginning with the second GTS race of the weekend at 11:05 a.m. ET, followed by the GT race at 3:00 p.m. ET. Both races can be streamed at

***CBS Sports Network’s coverage of the GT class action at the Texas Grand Prix will air at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday April 1st. GTS coverage on the network is scheduled for 11:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 5th.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

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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