Ian James Scores Sixth Pirelli World Challenge GTS Win Saturday at Sonoma Raceway in the Panoz Avezzano GT
Top 6 finishers are in 6 different auto makes in 50-minute feature
SONOMA, Calif. – Veteran Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., captured his series-leading sixth Pirelli World Challenge GTS main event Saturday at Sonoma Raceway in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT sports car by leading from the drop of the green flag at the 2.35-mile, 12-turn road circuit.
James, a veteran racer originally from England, started on the pole position and dominated the 30-lap feature over a variety of different machines with a 1.368-second win over Martin Barkey of Huntsville, Ont., Canada in the No. 80 Mantella Autosport KTM X-Bow GT4 machine.
In fact, the top six drivers in the GTS Saturday were wheeling six different auto brands including the Panoz, KTM, Ginetta, Aston Martin, Porsche and Chevrolet.
James debuted the new Panoz Avezzano GT car last March in the streets of St. Petersburg and the Team Panoz Racing operation developed the vehicle in the early portions of the Pirelli World Challenge season before James scored double wins at Road America in June. James also won at Mid-Ohio, Utah and Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) in the second half of the 17-race campaign. Round 18 takes place Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PDT at Sonoma Raceway as part of the PWC Grand Prix of Sonoma.
“It’s been about ten years since I first raced here so I forgot about how much I liked it here,” said James. “It’s such a momentum track and momentum is what we have. The team got confidence with the Avezzano and the second part of the year has been textbook for us. We couldn’t have asked for anything more and I’m thankful for the opportunity to drive it. It’s a good car on the brakes, and it has good torque. The V8 is a torquey engine and the gearing is good so these types of tracks play in our favor – with hairpins getting into and out of them quickly – that is good for us.”
“I want to give a shout out to my Mantella Autosport team,” said Barkey. “They were here until 3:30 in the morning putting a clutch in my car to get ready for this race. During the second practice, I had no clutch so we sent someone down to LA to pick one up at 1:00 p.m. He got back around 12:00 a.m. or 1:00 a.m. this morning and they were there to put the clutch in. Today we had a great, strong car like we always do. It was good fun racing and we’ll do it all again tomorrow. I think every driver up here might have a little something to say about BoP (Balance of Performance) but I wouldn’t want the job and to see four different makes up here (on the podium) says a lot about the Balance of Performance here.”
Placing third Saturday in the 50-minute event was 16-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunsfels, Tex., in the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 followed by Derek DeBoer of Ashland, Ore., in the No. 007 TRG-AMR Lasalle Solutions/BRM Chronograph/Auto LeafStar/Castrol/FastLife TV Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and four-time 2017 race winner Rodrigo Baptista of Brazil in the No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
“We would have had a better starting position but we had some difficulties in qualifying,” said Chase. “I think we would have started on the front row if not much closer than where we were. It was a good race. I was just focused on trying to catch Ian and the Panoz and see if we could get our first win. But battling with others in the middle of the race, I didn’t really have a chance to get away and from there we just couldn’t catch them. Overall, it was great.”
DeBoer turned in an impressive performance with fourth overall and easily winning the GTS Am category. DeBoer’s win George Kurtz eight-race winning streak in the GTS Am class. Kurtz, the cybersecurity entrepreneur from Paradise Valley, Ariz., had difficulty Saturday with his No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG McLaren 570S but still clinched the GTS Am driver’s point championship with one race remaining.
“This is our home track being with TRG,” said DeBoer. “Kevin Buckler’s (team owner) first pro win came here so it’s very important to him. We pulled out at all the stops here with all the testing and we had all of our sponsors on the trip. It was a full team effort. The track felt pretty good but after that first lap I saw a lot of car parts and stuff. So, there was a little bit of jumping and ducking and diving. It’s a great, technical track. There’s no time to breathe, there’s no time to think about anything else other than the task at hand and that’s what I love so much about racing sportscars. The Aston was awesome today.”
Taking second in the GTS Am race was veteran Mark Klenin of Lone Tree, Colo., in the No. 62 Tender Belly/KPR McLaren 570S followed by Tony Gaples of Libertyville, Ill., in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
With Gaples’ finish and newly-crowned GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., taking seventh Saturday, the Blackdog Speed Shop team provisionally captured the GTS Team point championship.
Chevrolet also leads in the GTS Manufacturers points at 110 over Panoz at 103 and Porsche at 100 entering Sunday’s GTS season finale.
The Sunday 50-minute race can be viewed live on www.motortrendondemand.com andwww.world-challenge.com.
SONOMA, Calif. – Race results for Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge GTS 50-minute Round 17 event at the PWC Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. All results are provisional until posted Final.
1,1, Pro,Ian JAMES,Paradise Valley, AZ,Panoz Avezzano GT,30, Running,51:41.311,
2,2, Pro,Martin BARKEY,Huntsville, ON,KTM Xbow GT4,30, Running,51:42.679,1.368
3,3, Pro,Parker CHASE,New Braunsfels, TX,Ginetta G55,30, Running,51:47.201,5.890
4,1, Am,Derek DeBOER,Ashland, OR,Aston Martin Vantage GT4,30, Running,51:57.985,16.674
5,4, Pro,Rodrigo BAPTISTA,Sao Paulo, Brazil,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,30,Running,52:05.216,23.905
6,5, Pro,Lawson ASCHENBACH,Palm Beach Gardens, FL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,30, Running,52:09.362,28.051
7,6, Pro,Nate STACY,Tulsa, OK,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,30,Running,52:12.278,30.967
8,7, Pro,Drew STAVELEY,Salt Lake City, UT,Ginetta G55,30,Running,52:38.111,56.800
9,8, Pro,Alex LLOYD,Livermore, CA,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,30,Running,52:53.173,1:11.862
10,2, Am,Mark KLENIN,Lone Tree, CO,McLaren 570S GT4,30,Running,53:01.302,1:19.991
11,3, Am,Tony GAPLES,Libertyville, IL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,30,Running,53:01.748,1:20.437
12,4, Am,Bob MICHAELIAN,Seal Beach, CA,SIN R1 GT4,30,Running,53:01.953,1:20.642
13,5, Am,Carter YEUNG,Los Angeles, CA,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,30, Running,53:24.175,1:42.864
14,6, Am,George KURTZ,Paradise Valley, AZ,McLaren 570s GT4,21,Running,46:20.411,9 LAPS
15,7, Am,Frank GANNETT,Steamboat Springs, CO,Ginetta G55,8,Not Running,14:19.048,22 LAP