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GT World Challenge America

Thorne Wins Miller Finale, O’Connell Crowned GT Champion

Robert Thorne holds off Ryan Dalziel for win at Miller…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Robert Thorne held off a hard-charging Ryan Dalziel to win Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge season-ending round at Miller Motorsports Park, giving the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 its first win on North American soil.

Cadillac Racing and Johnny O’Connell, meanwhile, claimed their third consecutive GT manufacturers and drivers titles, respectively.

K-PAX Racing’s Thorne led from lights-to-flag, in an impressive run for the GT rookie, who bounced back from a late-race collision with a GTS car in yesterday’s race while running out front.

Dalziel, who started from third on the grid, got around O’Connell on Lap 9 and quickly reeled in Thorne for the lead, in what was a near mirror-image from the opening stages of Friday’s race.

This time, the 21-year-old didn’t put a wheel wrong, as Thorne edged out the EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R by just 0.130 seconds at the line after 50 minutes of hard-fought racing.

It marked the first win of the season for the K-PAX team and the first for the British manufacturer in North American sports car competition since the Can-Am era.

Cadillac’s Andy Pilgrim completed the podium in third, ahead of the No. 08 Dyson Racing Team Bentley Continental GT3 of Butch Leitzinger in fourth.

Pole-sitter and Round 15 winner Guy Smith, who struggled to get off the line and was dead last at the end of Lap 1, made a remarkable recovery run to fifth in his No. 88 Bentley.

O’Connell, meanwhile, slipped to 7th at the checkered flag but it was still enough for the drivers’ title.

Tim Pappas claimed class honors for the second time of the year, driving his Black Swan Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 to dominant victory in GT-A.

A third place finish for Michael Mills, though, was enough for the EFFORT Racing driver to capture the class championship in his Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The No. 0 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 of Marcelo Hahn recorded back-to-back podium finishes in second.

While Jack Baldwin scored class honors, it was Lawson Aschenbach who claimed the GTS championship, thanks in part due to continued misfortune for Mark Wilkins and the Kinetic Motorsports Kia squad.

Wilkins, who started from the rear of the field following his DNF on Friday, headed in with a 2-point lead over Aschenbach but retired early in the race with mechanical issues.

It handed the title to Aschenbach for the second consecutive year, with the Blackdog Racing driver finishing runner-up to Baldwin in race.

Baldwin took over the lead from pole-sitter Nic Jonsson on Lap 9, with the Kia driver slowing on-track shortly after with a suspected mechanical problem.

Finishing third on Saturday was the No. 02 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Drew Regitz.

RESULTS: Round 16

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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