AUSTIN, Texas – Lawson Aschenbach scored a first round victory at Circuit of the Americas to open up the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GTS season, part of the Nissan Grand Prix of Texas brought to you by VP Racing Fuels. Sixteen-year-old Nate Stacy finished second, while 15-year-old Parker Chase finished third.
The rolling start saw Scott Dollahite, in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, lead from pole fending off challenges from Nate Stacy, driving the No. 14 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Boss 302, and Aschenbach, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, who passed Stacy quickly thereafter and then took the lead from Dollahite in his first lap charge and never looked back.
A full-course caution was issued by Race Control on the opening lap to retrieve the No. 54 Racers Edge Motorsport SIN R1 GT4, driven by Bob Michaelian which went off course.
The green flag flew to restart the race at the 13-minute mark of the 50-minute race, and Aschenbach led Dollahite and Stacy to the green flag. Soon after, Stacy was able to pass Dollahite for second as Kevin Marshall, in the No. 44 VSA Motorsports Lotus GT4, followed in fourth with Parker Chase, driving the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4, in fifth.
In addition, both Derek DeBoer and Max Riddle, driving TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4s moved into sixth and seventh, respectively, passing Anthony Mantella, driving the No. 8 Mantella Autosport Inc. Gulf KTM XBow GT4.
The half-way point of the race saw Aschenbach working lap nine ahead of Stacy by roughly three seconds, with Dollahite, Chase and DeBoer following. Riddle was in sixth ahead of Marshall in seventh, with Brett Sandberg, in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4, in eighth and Tony Gaples, in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, in ninth and Jeff Courtney, in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports RecStuff.com/Kenda Maserati GranTurismo, in 10th. Of note, Gaples was making his 150th Pirelli World Challenge start.
Gaples, however, would soon suffer tire damage that dropped him through the order forcing his Camaro to pitroad, while Sandberg would spin, and in the process relinquished a number of positions.
On lap 11, Marshall got around Riddle for sixth place, while Courtney also closed on Riddle, passing him on lap 13. Courtney then closed in on Marshall for sixth as the Maserati and Lotus drivers dueled for the position, which allowed Sandberg to catch them in his KTM X-Bow. That created a three-car train for sixth, seventh and eighth with Sandberg eventually passing both the Maserati and Lotus.
Further up the track, another battle was developing for the final podium spot as Chase tracked down Dollahite’s Evora for the final podium position with 11 minutes left on the clock.
Sandberg’s sixth place didn’t last long, as Marshall got around him with Courtney involved as the three-car battle continued to evolve until Sandberg’s car slowed temporarily on the front straight, costing him valuable distance. It wouldn’t be over, though, as Sandberg caught the group again, bringing teammate Dore Chaponick Jr., in the No. 12 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4 along. The battling continued, with Courtney going through to sixth and Marshall exiting the track with a damaged Lotus.
Up front, Aschenbach managed the pace to take the victory ahead of Stacy by 2.031 seconds, while Chase was able to pass Dollahite for third with two laps to go, to finish on the podium in his Pirelli World Challenge debut.
Dollahite was fourth ahead of DeBoer, who won the Optima Batteries Best Start Award with a first lap charge of seven positions, with Sandberg getting by Courtney on the last lap for sixth. Courtney would finish seventh, with Chaponick, Jr., Riddle and Mantella completing the top 10. DeBoer also won the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger, improving eight positions during the race.
Courtney’s battling heroics would earn him the Cadillac ATS-V Move of the Race Award for his pass on Riddle in turn seven.
“Race was pretty good for us today. I knew coming into the weekend that the GT4 cars would be very tough to pass,” said Aschenbach. “They seem to be quite a bit faster than our Z-28 on the straights. I was going to have pounce quickly on cold tires to gain some advantages. It was fun to be out there and it’s great to be back in the PWC series. It’s a fun event here at COTA and Austin is just a great city. The racing here is fast for drivers and exciting for the fans. Nate pushed me the whole time. He did a great job and I could see him coming at me. Tony (Gaples) started his 150th PWC race today and Tony and I are great friends. I learned that the Black Dog Speed Shop team was a top notch operation. And with GM and Black Dog working together, we were able to make this GTS program work and now very successful. I was hanging on at the end with the race car. Our car is quite heavy right now. We might have abused the tires a little more than the other cars. I was pushing very hard today. It was tough out there. We hit the setup very well for this heat today.”
“I started in the second spot but Lawson (Aschenbach) got by me pretty quickly,” said Stacy. “I was then able to get by the Lotus and tried to chase down Lawson. It was just a little too late. I was throwing the Mustang around pretty aggressively at the end. It was a fun and everyone on my Roush team worked hard all weekend. It’s a very weird mix between driving hard and driving safe. I think I found a couple with the car that made it better for me and I hope it will help for Sunday’s race.”
“We started fifth with the Ginetta. I was stuck in fourth for most of the race but, with two laps to go, I made a move on the Lotus and slid by for third,” said Chase. “The Ginetta is a new car to the PWC series with the GT4 platform. It’s very fun to drive and it stays consistent throughout the race which is important on a hot track like we had today. I love the car and I hope stay with the Ginetta group for many years to come.”
GTS drivers next hit the track at COTA for Round 2, scheduled for Sunday at 11:00 a.m. central time. Live video is available on motortrendondemand.com and live timing on world-challenge.com. Catch all the action from COTA on a CBS Sports Network broadcast, Thursday March 17 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.
AUSTIN, Texas – Results from Saturday, March 5’s 20-lap Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Round 1 race, part of the Nissan Grand Prix of Texas presented by VP Racing Fuels, with finishing position, class, first name, last name, hometown, laps, and fastest laps.
1. GTS, Lawson Aschenbach, Palm Beach Gardens FL, 2:18.553
2. GTS, Nate Stacy, Owasso OK, 2:18.661
3. GTS, Parker Chase, New Braunsfels TX, 2:18.669
4. GTS, Scott Dollahite, Austin TX / Austin TX, 2:18.965
5. GTS, Derek DeBoer, Ashland OR/Novato CA, 2:19.892
6. GTS, Brett Sandberg, Allendale NJ, 2:18.444
7. GTS, Jeff Courtney, Milwaukee WI, 2:20.811
8. GTS, Dore Jr., Miami FL, 2:18.655
9. GTS, Max Riddle, Vancouver Canada, 2:20.683
10. GTS, Anthony Mantella, Toronto Canada, 2:18.667
11. GTS, Nick Esayian, San Diego CA, 2:21.846
12. GTS, Mark Klenin, Lone Tree CO, 2:22.516
13. GTS, Martin Barkey, Huntsville Canada, 2:19.464
14. GTS, Ron Ballard, Phoenix AZ, 2:23.731
15. GTS, Kevin Marshall, Incline Village NV, 2:21.236
16. GTS, Tony Gaples, Libertyville IL, 2:20.902
17. GTS, Jack Jr, Livonia MI, 2:19.002
18. GTS, Conner Kearby, Seal Beach CA/San Antonio TX,
19. GTS, Patrick Byrne, Spokane WA,