Lime Rock Double Winner Bests James, Francis Jr. and Kurtz

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Spain’s Rodrigo Baptista was the quickest driver in the opening GTS practice runs Thursday at the legendary four-mile Road America road circuit with a speed of 103.56 miles per hour in the No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR sports car in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix presented by VP Racing Fuels.

Baptista, who won both GTS feature on the Memorial Weekend at Lime Rock Park, posted a time of two minutes, 20.710 seconds in the damp racing surface on the 14-turn permanent course north of Milwaukee. Thursday marks the first appearance of Baptista at Road America and he made the most of it as the young driver prepares for Saturday’s 30-minute qualifying session and the Round 9 50-minute race.

Second in Thursday’s GTS round was veteran Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzarno GT car with a 2:21.598 (102.91 m.p.h.). James comes back to the PWC campaign after an impressive Lime Rock drive which he placed second to Baptista. Third in Thursday’s GTS action was young Ernie Francis Jr. of Miami, Fla., in the No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang with a 2:22.045 (102.59 m.p.h.).

Round out the fourth different auto make in the top four GTS performers Thursday was GTSA racer George Kurtz of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in the No. 04 Crowdstrike/GMG McLaren 570S GT4 with a 2:22.273 (102.42 m.p.h.). Seventeen-year-old Nate Stacy of Owasso, Okla., made up the top five GTS practice drivers Thursday in the No. 14 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR car at 2:22.282 (102.42 m.p.h.).

Followed Kurtz in the GTSA division Thursday was Austin Versteeg of Sandy, Utah, in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM K-bow at 2:22.598 (102.19 m.p.h.) with the sixth spot overall.

Completing the top-ten overall in GTS Thursday was two-time GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R at 2:223.414 (101.61 m.p.h.), Martin Barkey of Huntsville, Ont., Canada in the No. 80 Mantella Autosport KTM K-bow GT4 at 2:23.415 (101.61 m.p.h.), local favorite Jeff Courtney of Milwaukee in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 at 2:23.826 (101.32 m.p.h.) and Jason Bells of Tampa, Fla., in the No. 2 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN CAR R1 GT4 at 2:24.277 (101.00 m.p.h.).

GTS Practice Round 2 is scheduled for Friday (June 23) at 10 a.m. CDT.