Andrew Palmer, Marcelo Hahn and Jack Baldwin took home wins in GT, GT-A and GTS respectively in Pirelli World Challenge Round 4 at Barber Motorsports Park Presented by RECARO.
It was Palmer’s first overall and second series win and Hahn’s first career win in the series. Baldwin collected his fifth career win.
In GT, Palmer, in the No. 21 GMG Racing Audi R8 Ultra started on pole after setting the fastest lap in Saturday’s Round 3 race.
But off of the standing start, the second place qualifier Anthony Lazzaro in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 won the drag race to the first turn to take the early lead. Palmer followed in behind, with Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTSV.R after that.
But the caution flag came out almost immediately after the start as four GTS Ford Mustangs Boss 302s collided heading into Turn 1. The race ended quickly for Dean Martin, Alec Udell, Tony Buffomante and Jack Roush Jr.
After the Lap 7 restart, Lazzaro, Palmer and O’Connell held position for the next 22 laps of the 30-lap race, with Palmer challenging for position a number of times only to be denied by the Ferrari driver.
O’Connell waited in the wings for the two main combatants to make a mistake, but fell out of touch with the two leaders as lapped traffic came into play. Nick Mancuso in the No. 16 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia soon picked up the challenge for third battling O’Connell near the end of the race.
Drama ensued on the final lap as Lazzaro put two wheels on the grass coming out of the Turns 10 and 11 left and right sequence, giving Palmer an opportunity to go side by side and eventually pass the Ferrari driver heading into Turn 12. Palmer carried the momentum to the checkered for the overall win.
“It went accordingly to plan. We didn’t get off the line as well as we had hoped,” said Palmer. “But I thought if we pressured throughout the race, we’d have the better car at the end. The tires are awesome and the brakes don’t fade. It was an absolutely perfect performance by the team. I pressured Lazzaro enough to make one small mistake and I capitalized.”
“The car was perfect today. But it was a tough race,” said Lazzaro. “I made a bit of an error. I had a bit of an advantage through the chicane, but Andrew had the advantage the last section of the track before the flag. I pushed a bit too much, went into the marbles, went wide and that was it. Andrew did a good job and deserves it, but my team deserves it after giving me such a great car.”
Behind Palmer and Lazzaro, O’Connell finished third, with Mancuso in fourth. Rounding out the top 5 was Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
Hahn, in the No. 0 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 started 10th on the overall GT grid and finished 10th overall, never relinquishing the lead in the GT-A class driving a mistake-free race.
Michael Mills in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3R finished 12th overall and second in GT-A, while Tim Pappas in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 finished 13th overall and third in class.
“Yes I’m very happy. We had some bad luck in the engine at St. Pete,” said Hahn. “Then I wasn’t able to race at Long Beach. Yesterday we had a problem and made a mistake. Today I’m here, taking first place, I’m very happy. I hope to continue putting up good results in the championship.”
In GTS, Baldwin started from pole after setting the fastest lap in Saturday’s Round 3 race, and won the race to the first turn leading the second and third place qualifiers, Nic Jonsson in the No. 36 Kia Motors America Kia Optima and Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro.
After Barber, Lazzaro leads the points in GT with 439, O’Connell is second on 393 and Pilgrim is third with 376. In GT-A, Mills leads with 225, while both Pappas and Hedman have 205.
In GTS, Wilkins leads with 376, Jonsson is second with 363 and Baldwin is third on 360. Points are provisional until posted as final.
GT, GT-A and GTS teams and drivers now head to Detroit and the Cadillac V-Series Challenge at Belle Isle, part of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, May 30-June 1 for Rounds 5 and 6 of the Championships.
Rounds 3 and 4 from Barber Motorsports Park will air on NBC Sports Network, May 10th at 4pm Eastern.