Lakeville, Conn. — Lawson Aschenbach won GTS Round 9 in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park presented by Bentley. Brett Sandberg finished second, while Scott Heckert finished third. The 50-minute race was held under sunny, 83-degree weather.
From the rolling start, Aschenbach, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, took the lead with a power move on the outside of the Big Bend corner (turn 1) over pole sitter Sandberg, in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4.
In the early going, Aschenbach was able to pull out a lead, while Sandberg held off Parker Chase, driving the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4, for second place while Heckert, in the No. 54 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, ran in fourth narrowly ahead of Scott Dollahite, in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora.
On lap nine, Heckert was able to get around Chase for third with a move through Big Bend as Chase fell back to fourth and had to contend with Dollahite who moved in for the pass from fifth.
On lap 13, Sandberg, running alone, had cut Aschenbach’s gap from three seconds to two, while Heckert led Chase and Dollahite in an exciting battle for the final podium spot, with Dollahite getting around Chase for fourth.
On lap 16, Sandberg was continuing his pace, and the lead margin was down to seven tenths of a second.
The caution flag flew on lap 18 and the safety car was deployed for various debris around the 1.5-mile Lime Rock Park track.
With the track cleaned up, the green flag came back out with Aschenbach pulling a gap through turn one as Heckert tried a move on Sandberg but could not execute the pass for second place.
Jack Roush Jr., driving the No. 60 Roush Performance Ford Boss 302, moved up to seventh on lap 24 with a move on Anthony Mantella, driving the No. 8 Mantella Autosport Inc. Gulf KTM XBow GT4.
With 20 minutes to go, Aschenbach’s restart lead was eliminated as Sandberg had once again caught the Camaro Z28 with the race’s focus on the battle for the lead. Following them, Heckert ran third, Dollahite in fourth and Chase in fifth. In the later stages of the race, Mantella’s No. 8 machine spun as a number of cars battled for position, promoting Roush Jr. to sixth and Nate Stacy, driving the No. 14 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Boss 302 to seventh.
Stacy would then lead a train of cars fighting for seventh, with Jade Buford, in the No. 45 Racers Edge Motorsports Sin R1 GT4, challenging for the position after dropping back with an issue earlier in the race. The battle would culminate in some light contact coming out of Big Bend, which would cause Buford to lose some real estate and one track position.
Up front, Aschenbach was able to keep Sandberg at bay for the run to the checkered flag to take the victory, with Sandberg finishing second by .269 seconds. Heckert finished third with Dollahite and Roush Jr. completing the top five.
Some late race shuffling saw Harry Gottsacker, in the No. 29 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4, finish sixth with teammate Chase in seventh. Stacy and Buford followed.
With the fastest time in the Friday race, Sandberg will start on pole for Saturday’s Round 10, with Aschenbach on the outside of the front row.
“I had to work for that one (win), said Aschenbach. “We definitely weren’t the fastest car here today. That goes to the XBow. My goal today was similar to race two at Mosport (CTMP). We seem to be very good in about the first five to 10 laps of a race. Then it is about managing the race and tires. I knew when I got the lead that I could gap him earlier in the race. But I also knew he would be coming up at the end of the race. I was really focusing on the places I was better than him. That was the downhill in West Bend (Turn 7) and breaking into turn one. But elsewhere he was much faster. This is a great rebound after race two in Canada. All of the guys at Blackdog worked overtime to get the Camaro ready for today. I want to thank Chevrolet too. It’s a great weekend for an American company with an American car and an American driver winning on Memorial Day. I think that’s the way it should be.”
“It was good race but I just couldn’t make the move to get to the lead,” said Sandberg. “I thought I had him at one point but I hit one of the curbs so hard that I thought I broke something on the car. We can’t come close to what Lawson does over the curbs. With the smaller and lighter car, we have to be careful on the bigger curbing. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t make a run on him. I couldn’t get even a little bit of a draft to make a pass. It was a little frustrating. I was getting temperature readings too and the car was overheating. I kept trying to get some clean air. But it was hard. We had the pace but it was so hard to make the pass. I think if I had gotten by Lawson that I could have pulled away. But it didn’t happen today.”
“It’s hot out there and that makes it hard in these closed cockpit cars,” said Heckert. “I had really good speed right off the bat. I had to fight off the Ginetta (Chase) and tried to stay with the top two because I knew they would pull away. They did get away and I just pushed really hard to attempt to get to them. So that kind of wore out the rear tires. I had to fall back a bit late in the race but, overall, we had a good pace. I’m getting better with each race in this car. I’m learning more on what I need from the car too. The biggest hurdle right now is getting used to the car. At the start, I was happy to stay in fourth. I figured the top four would pull away. I didn’t want to get involved in a first lap scuffle.”
Of note, the Optima Batteries Best Start went to Mantella for gaining four positions on the first lap. The Motortrendondemand.com Clean Pass of the Race was awarded to Chase for his pass on Stacy. Dollahite won the Cadillac ATS-V Best Move of the Race for his pass on Chase and the VP Race Fuels Hard Charger Award went to Stacy for gaining six positions during the race.
Results are provisional until posted final. For Aschenbach, it’s his third win of the 2016 and he continues to lead the GTS Driver’s Championship over Sandberg who moves into second over Parker Chase.
The weekend continues for the GTS class from Lime Rock with a Saturday morning warm-up followed by the final GTS race (Round 10) of the weekend 12 noon Eastern on Saturday, with live coverage on Motortrendondemand.com.
Lakeville, Conn. — Results from Friday, May 27, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Race Round 9, part of the Lime Rock GP presented by Bentley. Results shown by driver position, place in class, class, name, hometown, car and number of laps completed.
1. 1, GTS, Lawson Aschenbach, Palm Beach Gardens FL, Chevrolet Camaro, 49
2. 2, GTS, Brett Sandberg, Allendale NJ, KTM XBow GT4, 49
3. 3, GTS, Scott Heckert, Ridgefield CT, SIN R1 GT4, 49
4. 4, GTS, Scott Dollahite, Austin TX, Lotus Evora, 49
5. 5, GTS, Jack Roush Jr, Livonia MI, Ford Boss 302, 49
6. 6, GTS, Harry Gottsacker, San Antonio TX, Ginetta GT4, 49
7. 7, GTS, Parker Chase, New Braunfels TX, Ginetta GT4, 49
8. 8, GTS, Nate Stacy, Owasso OK, Ford Boss 302, 49
9. 9, GTS, Jade Buford, Brentwood, TN, SIN R1 GT4, 49
10. 10, GTS, Hugh Plumb, Miami FL, KTM XBow GT4, 49
11. 11, GTS, Bill Ziegler, Ponte Verdra FL, KTM XBow GT4, 49
12. 13, GTS, Anthony Mantella, Toronto Canada, KTM XBow GT4, 49
13. 12, GTS, Martin Barkey, Huntsville Canada, KTM XBow GT4, 48
14. 14, GTS, Mark Klenin, Lone Tree CO, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 45
15. 15, GTS, Tony Gaples, Libertyville IL, Chevrolet Camaro, 36
16. 16, GTS, Kevin Marshall, Incline Village NV, Lotus GT4, 0