BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Jade Buford won Friday’s shortened Round 5 Pirelli World Challenge GTS race at Barber Motorsports Park, and the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche, part of the 7th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Lawson Aschenbach finished second, while Scott Dollahite finished third.
With rain falling as the green flag flew, pole sitter Buford, in the No. 45 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, launched cleanly into the lead, while third-on-the-grid Dollahite, in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, passed second-on-the-grid Aschenbach, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, to slot into second.
At the end of the first lap, Buford had built a .675 lead over Dollahite and a 1.415 gap over Aschenbach. Scott Heckert, in the No. 54 SIN Cars/Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, slotted into fourth and Anthony Mantella, in the No. 8 Gulf Mantella Autosport KTM X-Bow GT4, in fifth.
With rain falling, Race Control issued a full course yellow and then a red to bring the field into pit lane to allow teams the opportunity to change to Pirelli P Zero rain tires. The race resumed with just under
30 minutes on the clock.
Buford launched cleanly into the lead followed by Dollahite and Aschenbach. Through turn 13, Aschenbach executed a clean pass to take second. By the end of the lap Buford had built up to a 1.8 second led over Aschenbach.
As rain continued to fall, Buford grew his gap over Aschenbach to 2.5 seconds, while Dollahite pursued 3.7 seconds back of the leader.
With just under 12 minutes remaining, Race Control issued a red flag as lightening touched down around the track. As cars came into pit road and a heavy downpour occurring, a checkered was issued to end the race. Buford secured his first PWC race win in his first start in the series.
Of note, Harry Gottsacker, in the No. 29 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4, won the Optima Batteries Best Start award for gaining three positions on the first lap of the race. The Cadillac Move of the Race was awarded to Mark Klenin, in the No. 62 Schomp/Premiere Copy/Mike Ward Maserati Maserati GranTurismo MC, for his pass through turn 5 on Parker Chase in the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4 Car. Chase was awarded the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining seven positions on the day — he finished sixth on the day.
“We just had to make the best of the situation with the rain and red flag,” said Buford. “Track conditions were changing so I just made the best of it. This is my first time with the new SIN Car (R1 GT4) and my first Pirelli World Challenge race. I couldn’t ask for anything better with the pole and the win. I’m learning to drive the car now. Some of the drivers I already know. So when I’m around them, I knew what toexpect. The series is good and I’m excited to race in it. I have raced a lot of different cars here (at Barber), so I have quite a bit of experience in the wet. I thought I had a good idea where to go on the track with the rain. That helped me get the most out of my car. Today’s race was our first real long run on the car, so we can go back and check the data for Saturday’s race. Saturday’s race will be quicker and more predictable.”
“We had a good race today with Black Dog Speed Shop Chevy Camaro Z-28,” said Aschenbach. “The car has been good since rolling off the trailer. We felt this was going to be a tough race for us. This track is not the best for the Camaro. A lot of GT4 cars are quite fast here with the twisty bits. I was looking forward to the rain. It’s the great equalizer and that was to our benefit today. I’m not sure I could have held up with these guys in the dry today. Hats off to Jade. He did a fabulous job. It would have been nice to have a couple of more laps in the rain before the lightning came. I thought we would have been able to battle him there. I hope all of the fans are safe and we’ll have another good race on Saturday. The rain was a tough call today for the teams. Everyone was watching the radar very closely. It can win or lose you races. We were sitting on pit lane during the first red flag and we just kept talking and talking about it. It was a gamble because we knew some of the rain was coming but we didn’t know how long it was going to take to hit the track. Because the red flag came so quickly and easily that we felt it was best to stay on the dry tires. I think only two cars switched to rain tires. That is one of the toughest decisions a crew chief or engineer has to make. And our guys, Ryan McCarthy, did a great job making the call. For Saturday’s race, we are racing in the morning and we get a little more aggressive with the setup. With the cooler conditions, you can get away with it. This track can really abuse tires. It can really wear out tires quickly. We can push a little harder in the morning that usual.”
“It was a team decision to miss the St. Pete race,” said Dollahite. “That track is pretty cruel on cars. So we decided to take that race off and go on for the rest of the season. We had a great start and Lawson made a great pass on me on the restart lap. At the end of the race, the back half of the track was still a little wet and that’s when things started to get closer with the mixed conditions. I was really happy with Lotus Evora at the end of the race. The car was handling great. It’s the first time we had this car in the rain. I just didn’t know what to expect. It was very slippery on back end of the track. All in all, I was quite happy with the car’s handling. We are probably not going to change much in our setup for the Saturday race. We had pretty good runs in practice in the dry. We are very happy with the car right now.”
Results are final. With the second place finish, Aschenbach moves into the lead in the Driver’s Championship standings with 462 points. Buford posted the fastest lap of the race with a 1.31.759, a new PWC GTS Barber Motorsports Park track record (eclipsing the previous mark set in 2015 by Jack Baldwin, 1:32.128). With the fastest lap, he will start on pole for Saturday’s Round 6 race, scheduled for 9:45 am Central. Watch the race live a motortrendondemand.com.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala – Results from Friday, April 22, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Race Round 5, at Barber Motorsports Park, and the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche, part of the 7th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Drivers listed by Position, Name, Hometown, Car, Laps
1. Jade Buford, Freeland WA, SIN R1 GT4, 14
2. Lawson Aschenbach, Palm Beach Gardens FL, Chevrolet Camaro, 14
3. Scott Dollahite, Austin TX, Lotus Evora, 14
4. Scott Heckert, Ridgefield CT, SIN R1 GT4, 14
5. Jack Roush Jr, Livonia MI, Ford Boss 302, 14
6. Parker Chase, New Braunfels TX, Ginetta GT4, 14
7. Anthony Mantella, Toronto Canada, KTM XBow GT4, 14
8. Ernie Francis Jr., Miami FL, Ford Mustang, 14
9. Mark Klenin, Lone Tree CO, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 14
10. Harry Gottsacker, San Antonio TX, Ginetta GT4, 14
11. Martin Barkey, Huntsville Canada, KTM XBow GT4, 14
12. Nate Stacy, Owasso OK, Ford Boss 302, 14
13. Brett Sandberg, Allendale NJ, KTM XBow GT4, 14
14. Tony Gaples, Libertyville IL, Chevrolet Camaro, 14
15. Alline Cipriani, Sao Paulo Brazil, Ginetta GT4, 14
16. John Allen, Denver CO, Porsche Cayman, 14
17. Derek DeBoer, Novato CA, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 14
18. Kevin Marshall, Incline Village NV, Lotus GT4, 14
19. Dave Ricci, Palm Beach FL, Chevrolet Camaro, 14
20. Dore Chaponick Jr., Miami FL, KTM XBow GT4, 14
21. Clint Guthrie, Birmingham AL, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 14
22. Jeff Courtney, Milwaukee WI, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 5