SRO America Comes To Sebring Raceway Day 1
Sebring Fl.,(September 23, 2022)
On September 23rd and 24th Florida’s storied Sebring Raceway played host to SRO Motorsports Pirelli GT4 America and the FANATEC GT World Challenge America Powered By AWS races. With manufacturers such as Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Acura, Toyota, Aston Martin, and Mercedes-AMG in GT3 and GT4 classes along with some of the best drivers piloting them, this weekend was primed for some of the best racing in the country. If that weren’t enough the TC America class would be in action as well and fans would get to see Honda’s, Hyundai’s BMW’s duking it out on the tracks notoriously bumpy seventeen turns as well.
The first race series to start the weekends action was the GT America powered by AWS series comprised of the SRO3 and GT4 classes. The SRO3 class was quiet for the first few laps with grid order being maintained. Jason Harward in the #88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and George Kurtz in the #04 CrowdStrike Racing by Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 were the class of the field. With Kurtz glued to the bumper of Harward. Harward defended brilliantly and held onto in the lead until the duo came into traffic from the GT4 class. Once in traffic Kurtz was able to seize an opportunity to squeeze by and take the lead. Once in the lead he and his Mercedes were able to take a commanding seventeen second win as well as the series championships. The final spots on the podium were Harward in second and Mirco Schultis in the #70 Mishumotors Callaway Corvette C7.R.
The GT4 class saw Moisey Uretsky in the #55 Accelerating Performance Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 take advantage of pole position and drive away from the field in dominating fashion. Eventual second place finisher Adam Adelson and his #120 Premier Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport never even had a sniff of his rear bumper. While it might have had the recipe of a boring race, indeed drama was there to be found. With the points lead of the series hotly contested, Points leader Jason Bell in the #2 GMG Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 pulled off a tight pass of the #40 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 piloted by Ross Chouest. But there was contact between the two and an accident ensued. With Uretsky’s win and the accident between the two other points contenders, there is now a five way battle for the class championship with Adelson now the points leader.
Next up was the TC America class. During the forty minute race the TC, TCX and TCA classes would be sharing the track for some intense wheel to wheel action. In the TCX class the #44 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M2 CS piloted by Colin Garrett made use of his flawless getaway to dominate the race. Lucas Catania drove his #26 Rigid Speed BMW M2 to a controlled second spot deftly balancing his pace between race winner Garrett and eventual third place and championship leader Jacob Ruud in the #1 Fast Track Racing BMW M2. While the race was largely determined early on, towards the end race leader Garrett ran wide and went off the track briefly stopping hearts. But he was able to regain control and win his class on day one.
In the TC class things were far from sorted. Kevin Boehm and his #9 CrowdStrike Racing by Skip Barber Racing Honda Civic Type-R built up a gap on the field but was gradually reeled in by Clay Williams in the #60 Team JCW MINI. But he wasn’t able to keep up the withering pace set by Boehm. As he faded back he soon found himself doing battle with Mathew Ibrahim and his #6 DRS & Garagistic BMW M240iR. Ibrahaim eventually pulled off the pass to claim second place and he looked locked into that place. But Williams would fight back reclaiming second. The two would continue their battle swapping spots with Ibrahim finally laying claim to second at the end.
The TCA class saw plenty of action. Carter Fartuch grabbed the early lead in his #16 Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Si. But Branyon Tiner in the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport, Cristian Perocarpi in the #61 Team JCW MINI and Devin Anderson in the#22 Techsport Subaru BRZ were also in the mix. The racing between the was fast and furious with places constantly changing. Eventually Tiner found himself in the lead, but an engine penalty forced him to the back of the field. While all this was going on the front Gresham Wagner was scything his way through the field from his 13th starting spot in his #21 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ. By the time the race got to the halfway point Wagner had found himself in the class lead and the eventual race win. The podium was rounded out with Tiner in second and Anderson in third.
Almost as soon as the green flag was waved to start the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS race the yellow flag came out as hard contact between the #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 driven by Erin Vogel/Michael Cooper and #94 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 driven by Chandler Hull/Bill Auberlen as they entered the first turn knocking both teams out of the race. In the Pro class the Michele Beretta in the #1 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 simply drove away from the field. The team finished with an impressive twenty five second margin of victory over the team of Michael Dinan/Robby Foley in the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M4 GT4. With fellow K-PAX racing team #3 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Misha Goikhberg/Jordan Pepper coming in third K-PAX racing has a stranglehold on the championship with their drivers holding the top four spots. With the team championship decided, the question for the rest of the season is which K-PAX driver will be champion.
In The Pro-Am class it was a three way dogfight between the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX Ashton Harrison/Mario Farnbacher, #45 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (991.ii) Charlie Luck/Jan Heylen, and #04 CrowdStrike Racing with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 George Kurtz/Colin Braun. With the drivers dicing it up for most of the race it was a taught affair. But the pressure got to Luck during his stint, and he spun his Porsche. Luckily, he only lost one place. After driver changes teammate Jan Heylen put on a masterful demonstration of driving to eventually get back on to the bumper of Braun and his Mercedes. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough racing left for him to contest for second place, let alone try for eventual winner Mario Farnbacher in the Acura.
The #23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 (Charlie Scardina/Onofrio Triarsi) team utterly dominated the AM class. Then again when you qualify P5 overall in such an intense field you would expect them to dominate. At one point they were even in the overall lead ahead of the Pro and the Pro-Am teams.
The final racing of the day was the Pirelli GT4 America class. In the Silver class the #18 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport piloted by Eric Filgueiras immediately shot away from the field. The on track battle between Michai Stephens in the #34 Conquest Racing/JMF Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 and Am class driver Johan Schwartz in the#80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M4 GT4 allowed Filgueiras to build a commanding lead. This didn’t stop Stephens from putting his head down and focusing on trying to get back into the heat of the battle. When it was time for the mandatory pit stop and driver exchange Gavin Sanders taking over for Stephens was laser focused on hunting down Steven McAleer and his Porsche. Shockingly McAleer and the Porsche ran into problems on the last lap allowing Stephens and his Mercedes to make the pass and get the win. McAleer was able to nurse his stricken Porsche in for second place. Third place went to the #51 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 GT4 team driven by Austen Smith and Zack Anderson.
In the Pro-Am Class Moisey Uretsky in the #55 Accelerating Performance Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 and Adam Adelson #120 Premier Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport were duking it out almost immediately for the lead. Uretsky demonstrated excellent race craft and never withered under the pressure of Adelson. Unfortunately, Adelson’s Porsche was beset with problems and had to pull off the course for a second. That disaster doomed his race, and he was never able to find the pace he previously had. After the mandatory driver change Justin Piscitell took over for Urentsky. Andy Lee now piloting the #8 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 worked hard to reel in Piscitell with the aid of lapped traffic. But it wasn’t enough as Piscitell was able to pull off the win with Lee coming in a well earned second. Rounding things out Aaron Povoledo and his #50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 came in third.
Johan Schwartz and his #80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M4 GT4 drove away from the #36 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 driven by championship leader Charlie Postins. With Schwartz feeling good behind the wheel he decided to take a chance and extend his stint. Meanwhile James Clay took over for Postins and set about attempting to reel in Schwartz. At the last possible second Schwartz pulled in for the mandatory driver change allowing Todd Brown to take over. But this strategy failed to work out for the Rooster Hall team as Clay and the Bimmerworld team was able to pull off the pass for the lead. Things went from bad to worse for Rooster Hall as Brown spun the BMW effectively taking them out of the hunt for the win. Clay and his Bimmerworld squad pulled off the win with Juan Martinez in the #83 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport coming in second, and Alex Filsinger and his #53 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 GT4 rounding out the top three.
All in all the first day of SRO Motorsports, Pirelli GT4 America and the FANATEC GT World Challenge America Powered By AWS races were exciting and thoroughly enjoyed by all the fans at Sebring Raceway. With plenty of racing in the bag there was still one more day to go and more points to be earned for series championships.