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GT World Challenge America

COTA Sunday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Sunday notebook from the SRO Motorsports America season-opener…

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO America

***Patrick Long told Sportscar365 that holding off the K-PAX Bentley of Rodrigo Baptista in the closing stages was “like bringing a knife to a gun fight”. Long, who shared driving duties with Scott Hargrove, managed to fend off Baptista in the race 1-winning Bentley to give the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R its second podium finish of the weekend.

***A GT3 Pro-Am class podium finish for the No. 71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 was dashed following a pair of incidents for JC Perez, who was ultimately black-flagged for not serving a penalty for incident responsibility after contact with the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Wei Lu and Henry Schmidt’s No. 87 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M6 GT3.

***The chupacabra-liveried Mercedes was initially handed a drive-through penalty for a pit lane infringement that is understood to have later been rescinded by officials. Perez and co-driver Maxi Buhk, who ran as high as second overall early on, were unofficially classified 11th overall and sixth in class.

***Perez’s incident, along with a run-in by George Kurtz in the No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes, helped pave the way for a 1-2 Acura class finish in the debuting Racers Edge Motorsports and Gradient Racing squads.

***Victory in Race 2 unofficially places R. Ferri Motorsport on top of the Blancpain GT America Pro standings after the opening weekend. Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina leave COTA with 38 points, marginally ahead of the two K-PAX Racing Bentley crews which are both on 37. Two third-place finishes for Wright Motorsports means Patrick Long and Scott Hargrove sit fourth in the championship with 30 points.

***In Pro-Am, Racers Edge took a win and a second place to go ahead in the standings on 41 points. In second is Wright Motorsports’ No. 91 Porsche on 33, ahead of the Gradient Racing Acura squad on 28.

***A double-victory weekend for Caesar Bacarella and Martin Fuentes puts the Squadra Corse Garage Italia pairing on top of the Am points with a score of 51. In second is the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari crew, 23 points adrift, while the Autometrics Motorsports Porsche team is a further point adrift.

***Gearbox overheating issues denied the No. 2 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Alec Udell and Jason Bell a potential overall podium finish in GT4 America SprintX Race 2. Udell had been running as high as third prior to the mid-race pit stop and driver change.

***Vesko Kozarov (Rearden Racing, GT4), Mason Filippi (TFB Competition, TCR) and Paul Terry (Rearden, TC) are the first three drivers to have qualified for the Kavana Cup. The new-for-2019 competition will award a $500,000 prize purse based on a series of criteria including weekend sweeps, fastest race laps and pole positions.

***Kavana Rum, along with sister company Purple Monkey Garage, are new series partners for SRO America.

***Every driver on the GT3 Am podium in Saturday’s Race 1 had been coached, at some point in their careers, by Anthony Lazzaro. Lazzaro shared his second place class-finishing Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 with current client Pierre Mulacek, with Martin Fuentes and Cesar Bacarella taking the class win and One11 Competition’s Brian Kaminskey and Christopher Cagnazzi finishing third in class.

***Risi Competizione race engineer Rick Mayer had a busy weekend, shifting between the team’s Ferrari GT3 car and its Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR, which made its TC America debut with James Walker Jr. “It’s been a struggle,” Mayer told Sportscar365 about the split effort. “We had dedicated car chiefs and the rest float around.”

***The Houston-based squad is set for a full-season effort in TC America, with the potential of additional Alfa TCRs, while COTA marked the only currently confirmed race for Lazzaro and Mulacek with the GT3 Am entry.

***Highlights of this weekend’s GT3 action will air tonight on CBS Sports Network at 10:30 p.m. ET, while the opening rounds of GT4 America is set to air at 7 p.m. ET on March 20, also on CBSSN.

***While Blancpain GT America and GT4 America SprintX doesn’t return to action until late April at Virginia International Raceway, GT4 America Sprint kicks off its season next weekend at St. Pete, while the second round of GT4 West is scheduled for later this month at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, in support of the California 8 Hours Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli round.

Daniel Lloyd 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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