Panoz’ Ian James Secures Pirelli World Challenge GTS Pole in Shortened Session; Kurtz Incident Reduces GTS Qualifying Round at Road America

GTS Sprint point leader Aschenbach suffers practice crash, misses qualifying

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Veteran Ian James drove the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4 sports car to the GTS pole position Saturday morning at famed Road America in Pirelli World Challenge GTS Sprint Round 5 event set for Saturday at 4:35 p.m. CDT.

The 20-minute GTS qualifying session was shortened due to a turn six incident with defending GTSA champion George Kurtz, whose No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 made contact with the outside wall. Kurtz walked away from the incident.

James, the British driver now residing in Paradise Valley, Ariz., won both GTS 50-minute sprint races last year at Road America with his Panoz sports car and looks to repeat the performance in the Saturday and Sunday doubleheader.

James was only able to record one flying lap in Saturday morning’s qualifying round due to the Kurtz incident, but that single lap time was the best of the 24-car field with a time of two minutes, 17.527 seconds and an average speed of 105.35 miles per hour.

In a separate incident, reigning GTS series champion Lawson Aschenbach had his No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R suffer a mechanical issue in turn two in the Saturday morning practice. The result saw the Florida driver smack the inside wall and damage his mount. Lawson was unable to drive in GTS qualifying Saturday, but the team hopes to repair the machine for the Saturday afternoon sprint contest.

“I love coming back to Road America,” said James. “Throughout my career I’ve always done well here, so I come here with a bit of a spring in my step. The Panoz is great around here. It actually has done the best of all the different Panoz cars I’ve raced here. On Friday, it was about the race setup with the longer stints. Then, we put some new tires on, no fuel in the tank and just went for it.”

Taking the second spot in the GTS qualifying was two-time GTS SprintX race winner Jade Buford of Nashville, Tenn., in the No. 55 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 at 2:17.818 (105.12 m.p.h.) followed by the top GTSA driver in qualifying, Mark Klenin of Lone Tree, Colo., in the No. 62 Premiere Copier McLaren 570S GT4 at 2:18.371 (104.70 m.p.h.) and 18-year-old Harry Gottsacker of San Antonio, Tex., at 2:18.916 (104.29 m.p.h.) in the No. 69 Racers Edge Motorsports Sin R1 GT4.

Kurtz was the fifth quickest in qualifying at 2:18.997 (104.23 m.p.h.) but will have to go to a backup car for Saturday’s GTS Round 5 race. Kurtz and Aschenbach will start at the rear of the field in Saturday’s 50-minute event.

On Sunday, the GT/GTS combined 50-minute race will begin at 2:45 p.m. CDT.

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Qualifying results of the GTS/GTSA classes Saturday in the Pirelli World Challenge Round 5 50-minute sprint event at Road America. Results are provisional until posted Final.

Pos,PIC,Class,Name,Hometown,Car,Laps,Status,Fastest Lap Time,Fastest Lap Avg. Speed
1,1, GTS,Ian JAMES,Paradise Valley, AZ,USA,Panoz Avezzano GT4,2,Not Running,2:17.527,105.3
2,2, GTS,Jade BUFORD,Nashville, TN,USA,Ford Mustang GT4,2,Not Running,2:17.818,105.1
3,1, GTSA,Mark KLENIN,Lone Tree, CO,USA,McLaren 570S GT4,2,Not Running,2:18.371,104.7
4,3, GTS,Harry GOTTSACKER,San Antonio, TX,USA,SIN R1,2,Not Running,2:18.916,104.2
5,2, GTSA,George KURTZ,Surprise Valley, AZ,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,2,Not Running,2:18.997,104.2
6,3, GTSA,Nicolai ELGHANAYAN,Laguna Beach, FL,USA,KTM X-Bow,2,Not Running,2:19.270,104.0
7,4, GTS,Shane LEWIS,Jupiter, FL,USA,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,2,Not Running,2:19.282,104.0
8,4, GTSA,Drew STAVELEY,Salt Lake City, UT,USA,Ginetta G55,2,Not Running,2:19.351,103.9
9,5, GTSA,Jeff COURTNEY,Milwaukee, WI,USA,Maserati Grand Turismo MC GT4,2,Not Running,2:19.591,103.7
10,6, GTSA,James CLAY,Blacksburg, VA,USA,BMW M4 GT4,2,Not Running,2:19.780,103.6
11,5, GTS,Gar ROBINSON,San Antonio, TX,USA,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,2,Not Running,2:19.877,103.5
12,6, GTS,Vinnie ALLEGRETTA,Hamptons, NY,USA,Ford Mustang GT4,2,Not Running,2:19.997,103.4
13,7, GTSA,Alan BRYNJOLFSSON,Tampa, FL,USA,Ford Mustang GT4,2,Not Running,2:20.428,103.1
14,8, GTSA,Marko RADISIC,Belgrade,SRB,BMW M4 GT4,2,Not Running,2:20.688,102.9
15,9, GTSA,Tony GAPLES,Libertyville, IL,USA,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,2,Not Running,2:20.705,102.9
16,10, GTSA,Jason BELL,Tampa, FL,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,2,Not Running,2:20.765,102.9
17,11, GTSA,Adam MERZON,Greenwich, CT,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,2,Not Running,2:20.815,102.8
18,12, GTSA,Preston CALVERT,Potomac, MD,USA,Panoz Avezzano GT4,2,Not Running,2:21.204,102.6
19,13, GTSA,Orey FIDANI,Etobicoke, ON,CAN,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,2,Not Running,2:21.381,102.4
20,14, GTSA,Frank GANNETT,Steamboat Springs, CO,USA,Ginetta G55,2,Not Running,2:21.637,102.2
21,15, GTSA,James PESEK,Harrisonville, MO,USA,Ford Mustang GT4,2,Not Running,2:24.182,100.4
22,16, GTSA,Mike HEDLUND,Redwood City, CA,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,2,Not Running,,
23,7, GTS,James SOFRONAS,Villa Park, CA,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,2,Not Running,,
24,8, GTS,Lawson ASCHENBACH,Palm Beach Gardens, FL,USA,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,0,NS,,