Ian James Takes Panoz to GTS Victory Sunday at Watkins Glen; Mike Hedlund Wins First GTSA Race in Audi at PWC Grand Prix
Sofronas Clinches GTS Overall & Sprint Titles, Courtney Takes GTSA Sprint Crown
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – After taking a close second place Saturday, veteran Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., captured his third Pirelli World Challenge GTS Sprint win Sunday in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4 sports car in the PWC Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by TM Performance at the famed Watkins Glen International.
Starting from the pole position for the second consecutive event, James jumped to the front of the 21-car field Sunday at the historic 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course and held off Saturday GTS winner Jade Buford of Nashville, Tenn., by 0.660 seconds at the checkered flag after 25 laps.
The victory for James in GTS Round 8 Sunday also gave Panoz the GTS Manufacturers’ point championship after both Panoz and Ford tied at 106 points. Panoz will take the title with five overall victories in 2018.
“I tried to breakaway at the start, but I just couldn’t,” said James. “So, the first four cars were covered by a couple of seconds for most of the race. Funny enough, the car was carrying a bit more penalty weight (from Portland) and it actually helped the car come in a little bit faster in the re-starts. I was a little worried about that because normally that’s a weakness for us.
“It’s been an amazing year. These last few races have been great. no big incidents. This is how GTS racing should be. It was so close here this weekend. World Challenge is on to something here. They just need to keep going on in the right direction.”
Defending GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., drove to third Sunday in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R followed by 19-year-old Harry Gottsacker of San Antonio, Tex., in the No. 69 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 and Patrick Gallagher of Thornville, Ohio, in the No. 10 PF Racing Ford Mustang.
Veteran James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., finished sixth in Sunday’s GTS event in the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 and clinched the GTS Overall as well as the GTS Sprint point championships. Last month, Sofronas teamed with Alex Welch to capture the GTS SprintX Pro-Am title in a sensational trifecta for the GTS series.
In the GTSA division, Mike Hedlund of Redwood City, Calif., collected his first GTSA race win Sunday by driving the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4 to an impressive 3.7-second margin over Jeff Courtney of Milwaukee, Wis., in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati Grand Turismo GT4. Third in GTSA went to Jason Bell of Tampa, Fla., in the No. 2 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4.
“We had a little bit of bad luck yesterday with a puncture,” said Hedlund. “It was fun racing James (Sofronas) today. I’ve been a little bit behind him throughout most of the season, so it was nice to be racing up there with him. He’s a good clean racer and I had a blast this weekend.
Flying Lizard is a local team near me, but this is the first time I’ve done a whole season with them. Apart from the results, it was a perfect season for me as a driver, who comes to the racing weekends and has a regular day job. They provide a perfect car for me. They’ve worked a lot of late nights because of bad luck, but they never didn’t have a smile on their faces. Even when I came in yesterday with a puncture, they were looking forward to what would happen today.”
Courtney, a PWC veteran, recorded the GTSA Sprint point title with his second-place finish Sunday after a GTSA class win on Saturday.
Aschenbach’s third place finish came after a tough Utah race weekend three weeks ago when his Chevrolet Camaro was crashed pretty dramatically.
WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. – Race results for the GTS/GTSA classes Sunday in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by TM Performance at Watkins Glen International. Results are provisional until posted Final.
1,1, GTS,Ian JAMES,Paradise Valley, AZ,USA,Panoz Avezzano GT4,25,Running,51:33.024,
2,2, GTS,Jade BUFORD,Nashville, TN,USA,Ford Mustang GT4,25,Running,51:33.684,0.660
3,3, GTS,Lawson ASCHENBACH,Palm Beach Gardens, FL,USA,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,25,Running,51:34.903,1.879
4,4, GTS,Harry GOTTSACKER,San Antonio, TX,USA,SIN R1,25,Running,51:35.593,2.569
5,5, GTS,Patrick GALLAGHER,Thornville, OH,USA,Ford Mustang GT4,25,Running,51:41.739,8.715
6,6, GTS,James SOFRONAS,Villa Park, CA,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,25,Running,51:42.249,9.225
7,1, GTSA,Mike HEDLUND,Redwood City, CA,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,25,Running,51:43.076,10.052
8,7, GTS,Shane LEWIS,Jupiter, FL,USA,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,25,Running,51:48.803,15.779
9,2, GTSA,Jeff COURTNEY,Milwaukee, WI,USA,Maserati Grand Turismo MC GT4,25,Running,51:52.521,19.497
10,8, GTS,Gar ROBINSON,San Antonio, TX,USA,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,25,Running,51:53.203,20.179
11,3, GTSA,Jason BELL,Tampa, FL,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,25,Running,51:57.576,24.552
12,4, GTSA,George KURTZ,Surprise Valley, AZ,USA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,25,Running,52:11.102,38.078
13,5, GTSA,Nicolai ELGHANAYAN,Laguna Beach, CA,USA,KTM X-bow,25,Running,52:11.358,38.334
14,6, GTSA,Tony GAPLES,Libertyville, IL,USA,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,25,Running,52:11.947,38.923
15,7, GTSA,Henry SCHMITT,San Francisco, CA,USA,BMW M4 GT4,25,Running,52:12.700,39.676
16,8, GTSA,Mark KLENIN,Lone Tree, CO,USA,McLaren 570S GT4,25,Running,52:30.025,57.001
17,9, GTSA,Frank GANNETT,Steamboat Springs, CO,USA,Ginetta G55,25,Running,52:30.899,57.875
18,10, GTSA,Orey FIDANI,Etobicoke, ON,CAN,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,25,Running,52:32.784,59.760
19,11, GTSA,Preston CALVERT,Potomac, MD,USA,Panoz Avezzano GT4,25,Running,52:58.750,1:25.726
20,12, GTSA,Drew STAVELEY,Salt Lake City, UT,USA,Ginetta G55,24,Running,51:50.002,1 LAP
21,13, GTSA,James PESEK,Harrisonville, MO,USA,Ford Mustang GT4,12,Not Running,26:54.933,13 LAPS