On Sunday afternoon, just before a cloudburst, the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS racers took to Upstate New York’s Watkins Glen International for its second race of the weekend. Refreshingly, the yellow flag was never unraveled and flown for the duration of the 90-minute race.
After a tough bout of luck on Saturday, K-PAX Racing returned to the tarmac to try and win back some points and expand its season points lead further, but couldn’t quite return to the dual-podium glory they experienced in the first six races this year.
From the start, Jordan Pepper (No. 3 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3) built up a mighty gap over the field. Just after the half-hour mark, the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG (Russell Ward/Philip Ellis) closed in on Pepper. At this point, skillful moves by Ellis were made, and within four corners Pepper not only gave up the lead, the Pro-Am No. 13 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 (Justin Wetherill/Ryan Dalziel) also slipped by. Reports over the radio indicated that this could’ve been caused by Pepper’s car suffering an issue with its aerodynamic components.
Later, right before the pit window opened, the Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG went on to gain a ton of ground on the No. 6 US Racetronics Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Steven Aghakhani/Loris Spinelli), kicking off a thrilling battle at the front of the pack. Once the pit window opened, Spinelli pitted and Ellis stayed out until the next time around. When Ellis finally pitted, the team’s seamless strategy meant he handed P1 over to his teammate Ward, who then quickly built up a comfortable gap of 7s. By race’s end this gap expanded to over 30s and gave them an easy win in Pro. They were lucky to build up such a lead, as mechanical issues cropped up in the race’s closing laps.
“Of course, it was a bit sad that we didn’t take the actual overall win,” Ellis shared. “We should’ve had it again, but we’ll take the class win today.”
The No. 1 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (Michele Beretta/Andrea Caldarelli) finished in second, followed by No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 (Michael Dinan/Robby Foley), marking Turner’s second time on the podium this weekend, and fourth of the season.
Spinell claimed the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap for US Racetronics, clocking in a 1m45.183s.
Early in the race, the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 (Ashton Harrison/Mario Farnbacher) got past the No. 7 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG (Scott Smithson/Bryan Sellers) to give corner-after-corner, up-close chase to the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (Charlie Luck/Jan Heylen). Right before the pit window, a smooth juke by Farnbacher got him past, and then post-pit, the Racers Edge machine maintained P2 with Luck close behind.
Later on, the No. 94 BimmerWorld BMW M4 (Chandler Hull/Bill Auberlen) got past the No. 13 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 (Justin Wetherill/Ryan Dalziel) and the Wright machine, leading to a battle between Racers Edge and BimmerWorld in the closing laps of the race, right down to the final corner. Harrison withstood the pressure from Hull to score a well deserved second place finish.
Seemingly unaffected by any drama and with a solid pit strategy playing mightily in their favor, the No. 04 CrowdStrike with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 (George Kurtz/Colin Braun) found its way to P1 before George Kurtz took the helm, which he proceeded to hold onto by a big margin. Later on and with minutes to go, the Pro-class Winward Mercedes started developing issues and Kurtz took it upon himself to scoot past and handily claim race two’s overall victory. This was Crowdstrike’s third win of the season in GT World Challenge America, and Kurtz’s second win of the day after taking the checkered in GT America this morning.
“It was great; it’s a lot of fun,” Braun said in response to sparring with some big names in sports car racing. “These cars are hard to pass when you stick all the pros in them. We’re all just right on the ragged edge, and it’s a lot of fun to be racing those guys. I was really happy to be able to bring the car to George with a good gap over the next Pro-Am car, and then we took it to those guys. I’m proud of my team on the pit stop, we executed it perfectly. I think that’s a testament to the hard work and the commitment these guys put in.”
Scott Smithson claimed the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap for No. 08 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with a 1m45.390s.
The sole Am entry of the No. 23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 (Onofrio Triarsi/Charlie Scardina) ran a smooth and very successful race, running as high as third overall, finishing sixth overall, and giving the majority of the Pro and Pro-Am fields a strong run for their money.
“Getting more track time in the car—I was having some trouble getting tires up to temperature, so we’re working really hard on that,” Scardina said. “Otherwise, the car was great, Triarsi Competizione did an amazing job setting up the car for this weekend, so I’m happy to finish where we deserve.”
The team’s CrowdStrike Fastest Lap was clocked in at a blistering 1m45.927s.
The series heads to Wisconsin August 19-21 for rounds nine and 10 at Road America.