Lawson Aschenbach Takes Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R to 1st GTS Win Saturday at Mid-Ohio in Pirelli World Challenge Round 11. Florida driver records 23rd PWC Career Win over James, Gottsacker; Kurtz Takes GTSA
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Veteran Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., recorded his 23rd Pirelli World Challenge career victory Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when he drove the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R to the car’s first GTS win in impressive fashion.
Aschenbach, the GTS point leader, started second to pole winner Harry Gottsacker of San Antonio, Tex., in the 17-car field but grabbed the lead into the first turn at the drop of the green flag and never looked back. The Vanderbilt University graduate’s victory was his 15th in the GTS division, the most in PWC GTS history.
Ironically, Aschenbach had been on the podium (top-three) in nine of the first ten GTS races in 2017 but had not stepped to the top of the victory lane stand until Saturday at the famed 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road circuit north of Columbus.
The 23rd overall Pirelli World Challenge win moved Aschenbach into fifth in the all-time PWC victory chart and tied with veteran racer Lou Gigliotti. Peter Cunningham holds the all-time PWC win mark with 43.
Road America double GTS race winner Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., came from sixth starting spot to finish in the runner-up position in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT sports car followed by pole-sitter Gottsacker, the 18-year-old racer in the No. 69 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 GT4.
The start of the 50-minute GTS Sprint event on Saturday saw a full course caution period when GTS Am pole winner Fred Roberts of Toronto, Ont., Canada, made hard contact with the outside wall on the back straightaway. Roberts walked to the ambulance but was transported to Mansfield Medical Center for observation.
The GTS race was restarted on lap 10 and Aschenbach used the Camaro’s horsepower to his advantage and jumped to the lead to pace the field as Gottsacker and James put on a spirited battle second throughout the 23-lap contest. At the checkered flag, it was Aschenbach by 2.047 seconds over James and Gottsacker with Road America GTS Am double winner George Kurtz of Paradise Valley, Ariz., placing fourth overall and capturing the GTS Am division.
“They threw the green flag way earlier than we were expecting,” said Aschenbach. “Fortunately, the torque of the Camaro got me a good jump and we were in the lead. I was happy with how the race was going. We expected to be fairly good here. It’s always been a good track for us, but there’s always so many unknowns with all of the (GT4) kit cars and we don’t know who’s going to be what and this weekend seemed to be the Ginetta weekend. Fortunately, the start went our way and from there it was just managing the restarts. “
“The track was quite greasy, and it was pretty easy to pick up some marbles and I really had to make sure I got those cleaned before the green flag went up. All in all, it’s good to finally get one this year. We’ve had a lot of podiums and a lot of success. I really think that it’s a testament to everybody at Blackdog Speed Shop, Pratt & Miller, Chevrolet.”
“Obviously, Road America was probably the strongest track of the year, just based on the way the car is, but it’s good here as well,” said James. “Qualifying didn’t go as planned so we had to start a little bit in the back of the field but to be on the podium is great. The Camaro seems to be the perfect package around here – it’s light and fast so I think he was out of reach today.”
“I was going to try to get in front but the cautions and the restarts kind of hurt me a little bit,” said Gottsacker. “But I’m just excited to be up here (on the podium); running up front has been fun, we’ve had great battles all weekend. I wanted to thank everyone at Performance Motorsports Group and everyone that helped out with the car.”
Rounding out the top-five Saturday in GTS was 16-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunsfels, Tex., in the team car to Gottsacker, the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 GT4.
Another teenager, Nate Stacy of Owasso, Okla., age 17, recorded the sixth position overall in the Round 11 GTS feature in the No. 14 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR followed by Martin Barkey of Huntsville, Ont., Canada in the No. 80 Mantella Autosports KTM X-Now GT4, Jason Bell of Tampa, Fla., in the No. 2 Racer’s Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, Bob Michaelian of Seal Beach, Calif., in the No. 45 Racer’s Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, and James Pesek of Harrisonville, Mo., in the No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4.
Round 12 in the GTS Class will take place Sunday at Mid-Ohio at 9:05 am EDT and will be live-streamed for free on www.motortrendondemand.com and www.world-challenge.com
Results from the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Honda Racing Round 11 GTS race on Saturday, July 29, 2017 Results are provisional until posted Final.
1,1, Pro,Lawson ASCHENBACH,Palm Beach Gardens, FL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,24,Running,50:23.424,
2,2, Pro,Ian JAMES,Paradise Valley, AZ,Panoz Avezzano GT,24,Running,50:25.471,2.047
3,3, Pro,Harry GOTTSACKER,San Antonio, TX,Ginetta G55,24,Running,50:25.835,2.411
4,1, Am,George KURTZ,Paradise Valley, AZ,McLaren 570s GT4,24,Running,50:32.484,9.060
5,4, Pro,Parker CHASE,New Braunsfels, TX,Ginetta G55,24,Running,50:32.615,9.191
6,5, Pro,Nate STACY,Tulsa, OK,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,24,Running,50:33.079,9.655
7,6, Pro,Martin BARKEY,Huntsville, ON,KTM Xbow GT4,24,Running,50:33.531,10.107
8,2, Am,Jason BELL,Tampa, FL,SIN R1 GT4,24,Running,50:35.894,12.470
9,3, Am,Bob MICHAELIAN,Seal Beach, CA,SIN R1 GT4,24,Running,50:43.318,19.894
10,4, Am,James PESEK,Harrisonville, MO,Ford Mustang,24,Running,50:48.641,25.217
11,5, Am,Adam MERZON,Greenwich, CT,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,24,Running,50:49.031,25.607
12,6, Am,Bill ZIEGLER,Ponte Vedra, FL,KTM Xbow GT4,23,Not Running,49:13.521,1 LAP
13,7, Am,Tony GAPLES,Libertyville, IL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,15,Not Running,46:34.241,9 LAPS
14,7, Pro,Jeff COURTNEY,Milwaukee, WI,Maserati GT4,14,Not Running,35:54.799,10 LAPS
15,8, Am,Mark KLENIN,Lone Tree, CO,McLaren 570S GT4,14,Not Running,38:13.406,10 LAPS
16,8, Pro,Rodrigo BAPTISTA,Barcelona, Spain,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,6,Not Running,15:20.868,18 LAPS
17,9, Am,Fred ROBERTS,Toronto, ON,Maserati GT4,0, Not Running.