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GT World Challenge America

James Wins Race 2, Sweeps GTS Weekend at Road America

Ian James sweeps Pirelli World Challenge GTS weekend…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCpix.com

Ian James made it a Panoz sweep of the Pirelli World Challenge GTS weekend at Road America, holding off Lawson Aschenbach in a race cut six and a half minutes short to earn the second win for Panoz in as many days after an 11 year drought for the company.

James started fifth but tore off the line on the standing start in his No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT, jumping to second in the first few corners.

After a first-lap safety car, James wasted little time sweeping past Rodrigo Baptista’s No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR heading into Turn 5 on the restart, and led the rest of the way.

Aschenbach followed James past Baptista shortly thereafter in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R to move into second place where he would ultimately finish.

It is the sixth runner-up finish for Aschenbach this season. He currently leads the points but is still in search of his first win of the year.

The race was red flagged and ultimately halted with James, Aschenbach, and Baptista running 1-2-3 when TC competitor Samantha Tan suffered a heavy accident in the Kink.

Her BMW M235iR made head-on contact with the concrete wall with just over seven minutes remaining in the 50-minute race, and race control deemed that the cleanup would take too long to go back to green.

Tan was awake and alert when treated by the track medical staff according to a PWC spokesman.

Baptista ultimately lost his third place position due to a time penalty assessed for jumping the final restart, promoting GTSA winner George Kurtz in the No. 04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4 to third overall.

The 50-second penalty for the Brazilian dropped him to a 29th place finish overall.

Teammate Nate Stacy, meanwhile, completed the GTS Pro subclass podium in fourth overall in the No. 14 Flying Lizard Porsche.

Ernie Francis Jr. was fifth overall and third in GTS after an impressive drive from 22nd on the starting grid in the No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang.

GTS pole sitter Austin Versteeg suffered through a tough day, struggling to get off the line on the standing start and falling as far back as sixth in the early laps.

After climbing back to third in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports entry, he again dropped back on the later restarts and had to settle for tenth.

Nick Wittmer won in the invitational TC class for ST Racing.

The race was slowed three times by safety cars, including an incident that brought an abrupt end to a strong run from Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4.

With just over 20 minutes remaining in the race, Courtney, who had started sixth and had fought his way up to third, appeared to lose control of the car and ended his day in the Turn 14 tire barrier.

That incident brought out the race’s second safety car period following a dustup on the initial standing start.

Cameron Cassels in the No. 018 Case-it Racing GTSA class entry struggled to get going and was hit by the TC car of Cody Ellsworth, eliminating both cars from the race just moments after it had begun.

RESULTS: Race 2

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based broadcaster and reporter. In addition to his work covering primarily domestic sports car racing for Sportscar365, he is a pit reporter for SRO America's TV coverage as well as for IndyCar Radio. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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