After a rain delay to the original day’s schedule, the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS competition delivered the action in bucketloads. When the downpour and lightning threat created the red/checkered premature stop to the race, it would be Jordan Pepper in the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 that led the team to it’s next win and capture the CrowdStrike Fast Lap award for the race in the process.
At the drop of the green flag, P3 qualifier Michael Dinan deftly maneuvered the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW F13 M6 GT3 through the K-PAX Racing P1 and P2 traffic and eventually took the lead in the race. It was short-lived, however, and Dinan dropped back behind Pepper after denying him the possibility of a flag-to-flag win. The battle for second place ensued between the No. 96 BMW (Dinan), the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini (Venturini) and the No. 33 Winward Racing (Ward) Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the length of the first driver stint.
By the opening of the pit window, it was Pepper in front, leading teammate Venturini, followed by Ward, Dinan, Iribe, George Kurtz ( No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG) and Jeff Burton ( No. 91 Rearden Racing Lamborghini). The back half of the starting field, in order, would see No. 9 TR3 Racing Lamborghini driver Ziad Ghandour in eighth place; followed by P12 qualifier Taylor Hagler ( No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura) making her way through the field into ninth place; Fred Poordad ( No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche) down two positions into 10th; Erin Vogel ( No. 19 DXDT Mercedes-AMG) jockeying for better positioning from her P11 start; DXDT Racing principal David Askew ( No. 63 Mercedes-AMG) also finding himself down positions into 12th; Jason Harward ( No. 88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini) struggling to gain ground from his 13th-place qualifying spot; and Jean-Claude Saada ( No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari)/Frank Gannett ( No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Aston Martin) interchanging their qualifying positions. The No. 77 Acura NSX GT3 suffered a mechanical issue and was forced to withdraw from Race 1 for repairs.
Gannett and his Aston Martin were the first to execute the required pit stop, followed by Venturini and Dinan who exited at the same time. Burton, Poordad, and Vogel followed by Harward and Askew. Shortly after that, Foley and the Turner Motorsports BMW were the first out of the required pit stop with No. 6 co-pilot Corey Lewis close behind in the K-PAX Lamborghini. Because of the strategic in-and-out timing of the No. 3 K-PAX Racing
Lamborghini, co-driver Andrea Caldarelli re-entered the track after the pit stop and landed in first place. Winward Racing’s pit stop and driver change resulted in the re-entry of Ellis into second place. At the end of all the pit and driver change dances, the No. 96 BMW found itself with Robby Foley behind the wheel and a sixth-place overall position.
After climbing back to third and catching Ward, the battle for second place resumed until the rain came in hard and fast, and the race was ultimately called checkered with a little over nine-minutes left after a yellow flag was called for the increasingly dangerous weather conditions.
With the overall top three mirroring the Pro class top three, the inception racing team captured the Pro-Am win with the Wright Motorsports Porsche and the TR3 Racing Lamborghini completing the Pro-Am podium.
GT World Challenge America competitors finish out the COTA weekend on Sunday, May 2, when CBS Sports Network television coverage starts at 1:00 pm CDT while the free GT World YouTube stream goes live approximately 3-5 minutes before the green flag drops at 1:15 pm CDT. Audio simulcast will be handled by SiriusXM Satellite Radio on SXM 382 (web 992), while live timing and scoring can be seen at gt-world-challenge-america.com under the “LIVE” tab.