ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, scored his 24th career series win and his first of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTS season in Round 9 at the DeVILBISS Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac. Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., finished second and Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, Ontario finished third.
Off of the standing start, pole-sitter Baldwin, in the No. 73 GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman S had a great launch to take the lead followed closely by Michael Cooper, of Syosset, N.Y. who started 2nd in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Z28, and Dean Martin, of Westland, Mich. in the No. 50 Rehagen Racing/Picture Cars East Ford Mustang Boss 302.
Gigliotti, in the No. 28 LG Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4, had a tremendous start going from 6th on the grid to fourth. Gigliotti was then able to pass Martin for third in turn 5 on the first lap.
As they crossed the stripe to complete lap 1, Baldwin led Cooper, Gigliotti, Martin and Kurt Rezzetano, of Phoenixville, Pa. in the No. 37 Calvert Dynamics/PhoenixPerf/Ford Mustang Boss 302.
On lap 3, Gigliotti started to close on Cooper and by turn 5 he outbraked Cooper to execute a pass for 2nd. At the completion of lap 5
Baldwin held a .783 lead over Gigliotti, with Cooper in third, followed by Martin and Wilkins, in the No. 38 PutOnTheBrakes.Org/KIA Optima, in fifth.
On lap 5, 13 minutes into the 50-minute race, Gigliotti passed Baldwin for the lead with Cooper following into second. Behind Baldwin now in 3rd, Martin remained in 4th with Wilkins in 5th.
Two laps later, Cooper closed onto Gigliotti’s bumper .274 behind the leader and by lap 9 Gigliotti and Cooper drag raced down the front straight with Cooper talking over top spot through turn 1. The pass earned Cooper the Cadillac Move of the Race Award. Wilkins had passed Martin for 4th.
Twenty-two minutes into the race Cooper led Gigliotti, Baldwin and Wilkins. Crossing the stripe to complete lap 9, Cooper had built up a 1.105 second lead, while teammates Rezzetano and Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, Pa., in the No.32 Calvert Dynamics/PhoenixPerformance/Ford Mustang Boss 302 both passed Martin. Of note, Aquilante, who started in pit lane because his hood came loose during the presentation lap, had gained 15 positions to get back into victory circle contention.
Cooper continued to build a lead on the field and by lap 15 he had a 5.288 second lead. But on lap 19 at Canada Corner Turn 12, Cooper pulled off with a mechanical issue, allowing Gigliotti to take the lead followed by Baldwin and Aquilante who had moved into third. On the white flag lap, Wilkins passed Aquilante on the Moraine Sweep heading into heading into turn 5.
At the checkered, Gigliotti scored his fourth series win at Road America and is now the winningest driver in series history at the Elkhart Lake track. It was also his first Pirelli World Challenge First win since 2006 at Mid-OHio.
“It was a great race for Kia,” said Wilkins. “It’s nice to be back on the podium. We had to drive a really smart race. We didn’t have the qualifying that we had hoped for. So we had some work to do. But from the start, we settled into a good groove. I was pushing as hard as I could for what I had to use. We had some great battles today with Andrew (Aquilante) in the Mustang. We had some really, really close racing. I don’t think we touched either. We went back and forth a few times and I wanted to see where I was stronger. I tried to capitalized on that advantage and I made it happen on the last lap. Hopefully we can get back on the podium again on Sunday.”
“It was tough from the start today,” said Baldwin. “We got a little loose as we had some trouble coming to terms with the tires. Lou (Gigliotti) was doing a good job and Michael Cooper was really doing a good job too. I don’t know what happened to Michael at the end. They had a little too muscle and we weren’t where we wanted to be. For us to come home second, I’m okay with it. It’s nice to be on the podium and congratulations to Lou. Now, I want to see a little respect coming out of you (Lou) after this win.”
“They say it’s like riding a bike to come back here,” said Gigliotti, “but it was a big bike. We really had to get things sorted out and this Aston Martin was a handful. At St. Petersburg, we got stuck in fifth gear. So we threw out the paddle shifting and put a stick shift in with a clutch. And now I’m heel and toeing with my feet and having more fun than we are allowed to have. At (CTMP), we were going to get fourth but I forgot to turn right instead of left and I wacked the wall. The whole crew worked on it for three weeks and put the same shocks on it and everything was nearly identical. So it was easy to start here like we were at (CTMP). The handling is good and I thought we had more power than (Michael Cooper’s) Camaro until he passed me on the straightaway. We might have a little more horsepower than Jack’s car. I’m really happy with Aston Martin and it’s easy to drive. Even an old guy can drive it. It’s an honor to win here again and I couldn’t ask to be with a couple of good drivers like these two (Baldwin and Wilkins).”
Of note, Mark Klenin, of Lone Tree, Colo., in the No. 62 Schomp Auto/Invisible Glass/Premier Copier Aston Martin Vantage GT4 was awarded the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award for gaining four positions when the lights went out. Aquilante was awarded the Invisible Glass Clean Pass Award for his tremendous move on Wilkins on lap 15 through turn 6. Joey Atterbury, of Virginia Beach, Va. in the No. 68 Wolverine Bronze Co./Roush Performance/Ford Mustang Boss 302 was awarded the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining eight position during the race.
Aquilante will start on pole for Round 10 after posting the fastest lap of the race with a 2:20.417. Round 10 at Road America is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central. Watch live streaming of the race at world-challengetv.com and torque.tv
Results are provisional until posted final.
ELKHART LAKE, WI – Results from Saturday’s 22-lap 89.056 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Round 9 race, part of the DeVILBISS Grand Prix at Road America, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. GTS, (5), Lou Gigliotti, Dallas, Texas, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 22.
2. GTS, (1), Jack Baldwin, Marietta, Ga., Porsche Cayman, 22, -2.677.
3. GTS, (7), Mark Wilkins, Toronto, Ontario, KIA Optima, 22, -4.210.
4. GTS, (8), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, Pa., Ford Mustang Boss 302, 22, -4.654.
5. GTS, (6), Kurt Rezzetano, Phoenixville, Pa., Ford Mustang Boss 302, 22, -7.634.
6. GTS, (20), Nick Mancuso, Libertyville, Ill., Maserati GrandTursimo MC, 22, -7.756.
7. GTS, (10), Dan Martinson(R), Medina, Minn., Ford Mustang Boss302, 22, -16.768.
8. GTS, (16), Joey Atterbury, Virginia Beach, Va., Ford MustangBoss302, 22, -18.465.
9. GTS, (3), Dean Martin, Westland, Mich., Ford Mustang Boss302, 22, -24.068.
10. GTS, (9), Jack Roush Jr, Livonia, Mich., Ford Mustang Boss302, 22, -24.896.
11. GTS, (12), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 22, -44.897.
12. GTS, (15), Tony Gaples, Libertyville, Ill., Chevrolet Z28, 22, -45.858.
13. GTS, (13), Nathan Stacy, Owasso, Okla., Ford Mustang Boss302, 22, -1:02.391.
14. GTS, (17), Buz McCall, Boca Raton, Fla., Porsche Cayman, 22, -1:09.799.
15. GTS, (4), Ben Clucas, Northampton England, , Kia Optima, 22, -1:51.609.
16. GTS, (14), Mark Klenin, Lone Tree, Colo., Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 22, -1:55.321.
17. GTS, (2), Michael Cooper, Syosset, N.Y., Chevrolet Z28, 19, Mech.
18. GTS, (18), Preston Calvert(R), Potomac, Md., Ford Mustang Boss 302, 17, Mech.
19. GTS, (19), Gianmarco Raimondo, St Catharines, Ontario, Maserati GrandTurismo MC, 16, Mech.
20. GTS, (11), Andy Lee, Colorado Springs, Colo., Chevrolet Camaro, 4, Crash.
21. GTS, (21), John Allen(R), Aurora, Colo., Porsche Cayman, 0, DNS.
Time of race: 52 minutes, 12.881 seconds.
Average speed: 102.334 mph
Margin of victory: 2.677 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-5, #73 Jack Baldwin; laps 6-8, #28 Lou Gigliotti; laps 9-19, #10 Michael Cooper; laps 20-22, #28 Lou Gigliotti
Fastest race lap: #32 Andrew Aquilante, 2:20.417 (103.782 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #73 Jack Baldwin, 2:17.547 (105.947 mph)