New Panoz Avezzano GT sports car stops Aschenbach’s Camaro in shortened event

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Veteran Ian James made it two-for-two for Team Panoz Racing Sunday at Road America when the Arizona driver captured his second straight GTS 50-minute sprint race win in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix presented by VP Racing Fuels.

On Saturday, James recorded Team Panoz Racing’s first sports car victory since since the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2006.

After Saturday’s wire-to-wire 22-lap win, James started fifth in the 33-car GTS/TC field with the standing start on the long front straightaway at the four-mile road course and enjoyed a superb start into turn one in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT sports car. In fact, James moved to second behind front row starter Rodrigo Baptista at the green light.

After two laps of yellow due to a crash at the standing start with Cameron Cassels and Cody Ellsworth, James grabbed the lead position on lap four with GTS point leader Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, Baptista in the No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR and local driver Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4.

By lap eight, James extended his margin to nearly two seconds over Aschenbach, Baptista and Courtney and drove a consistent pace before another full course caution period appeared on lap 11 when Courtney slid into the turn 14 tire barrier while challenging Baptista for third.

The green flag came out on lap 12 but the red flag was flown on lap 14 when Touring Car driver Samantha Tan made hard contact with the turn 11 wall near Road America’s famous “kink” portion of the circuit. Due to the short time left in the 50-minute race, the PWC stewards called the event after 13 laps were completed. Tan, driving the No. 38 ST Racing BMW M235iR, was examined and released from the track’s medical center after the race.

The double victory for James and Team Panoz Racing marked the fifth GTS weekend (10 races) where one driver and one car manufacturer won both races on the weekend (Ford Mustang, KTM X-Bow, SIN CAR R1, Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR and Panoz Avezzano).

“Sometimes it goes that way, you just have a weekend where everything clicks,” said James. “I was a little bit concerned starting P5 today but the car just launched at the start. I managed to get second place there so that made life a lot easier. I made a run on Rodrigo to get on the lead and once again it was Lawson chasing me right on my tail and he kept it clean but our car was really good this weekend and I’m fortunate to drive it. The V8s in the Camaro and the Panoz, with the torque they make, it is a bit of an advantage at the start.”

At the finish, James took his second win of the Road America weekend with another second place for Aschenbach (his ninth podium in 10 starts) and third overall went to GTS Am driver George Kurtz in the No. 04 Crowdstrike/GMG McLaren 570S, who won both races of the GTS Am division at Road America. Fourth and fifth were youngsters Nate Stacy in the No. 14 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR and Ernie Francis Jr. in the No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang.

“I think the word of the year has been “bridesmaid” but the car has been very good,” said Aschenbach. “We’ve rolled off the trailer very fast every weekend and we’re very reliable. There has been a lot of work and dedication that goes into this program between General Motors, Pratt and Miller, Blackdog Speed Shop, and all our partners. The fact is we really can’t be that upset with this many podiums – 9 podiums in 10 races, that’s something people would dream of sometimes. We don’t have the win yet but I know it’s coming.”

Placing second to Kurtz in the GTS Am class was Lime Rock winner Mark Klenin in the No. 62 KPR/Tender Belly McLaren 570S followed by Keith Jensen in the No. 47 NolaSport Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.

“Our company was lucky enough to win an award there, Entrepreneur of the Year for Silicon Valley, so that was nice and then we took a red-eye back here with the family and got here just in time for qualifying,” said Kurtz. “I qualified on Saturday with not a lot of sleep and then had a good weekend both Saturday and Sunday.”

“My company, Crowdstrike, is an internet security company. We were the guys that were called in to investigate the DNC hack with our technology. It was kind of a big deal that we got called in for that and we’ve been lucky enough to build a great company and people recognize that. I got the award for the people in the company, and we were able to have our guests here with us and they enjoyed a great weekend at Road America, probably one of the best tracks in the country.”

In the very competitive Touring Car class at Road America, veteran Nick Wittmer of Montreal, Que., Canada, driving the team car to Tan’s ST Racing BMW M325iR, took the victory over Stefan Sajic in the No. 18 Zima Motorsports BMW M235iR and Nicholas Barbato in the No. 75 Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

Rounds 11 and 12 of the Pirelli World Challenge GTS division are set for July 28-30 at Mid-Ohio Sports Course in Lexington, Ohio. Watch this weekend’s GTS rounds and TC invitational on CBS Sports Network, premiering Wednesday July 5th, 2017, at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Check your local listings for channel information and encore broadcast times.

Results from GTS Rd. 10 and TC Open 2 from the Grand Prix of Road America Presented by VP Racing Fuels on June 25, 2017. Results are provisional until posted Final.

Pos,PIC,Class,Name,Hometown,Car,Laps,Status,Race Time,Gap
1,1, Pro,Ian JAMES,Paradise Valley, AZ,Panoz Avezzano GT,13,Running,39:43.111,
2,2, Pro,Lawson ASCHENBACH,Palm Beach Gardens, FL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,13,Running,39:43.768,0.657
3,1, Am,George KURTZ,Paradise Valley, AZ,McLaren 570s GT4,13,Running,39:44.984,1.873
4,3, Pro,Nate STACY,Tulsa, OK,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,13,Running,39:45.847,2.736
5,4, Pro,Ernie FRANCIS JR,Miami, FL,Ford Mustang,13,Running,39:46.014,2.903
6,2, Am,Mark KLENIN,Lone Tree, CO,McLaren 570S GT4,13,Running,39:48.417,5.306
7,5, Pro,Harry GOTTSACKER,San Antonio, TX,Ginetta G55,13,Running,39:48.690,5.579
8,6, Pro,Martin BARKEY,Huntsville, ON,KTM Xbow GT4,13,Running,39:48.993,5.882
9,7, Pro,Austin VERSTEEG,Sandy, Utah,KTM Xbow GT4,13,Running,39:49.030,5.919
10,3, Am,Keith JENSEN,Fort Worth, TX,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,13,Running,39:49.170,6.059
11,4, Am,Drew STAVELEY,Salt Lake City, UT,Ginetta G55,13,Running,39:49.188,6.077
12,8, Pro,Parker CHASE,New Braunsfels, TX,Ginetta G55,13,Running,39:49.643,6.532
13,5, Am,Tony GAPLES,Libertyville, IL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,13,Running,39:49.989,6.878
14,6, Am,Fred ROBERTS,Toronto, ON,Maserati GT4,13,Running,39:50.676,7.565
15,7, Am,Jason BELL,Tampa, FL,SIN R1 GT4,13,Running,39:52.497,9.386
16,8, Am,Adam MERZON,Greenwich, CT,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,13,Running,39:53.341,10.230
17,9, Am,Bill ZIEGLER,Ponte Vedra, FL,KTM Xbow GT4,13,Running,39:53.551,10.440
18,10, Am,Chris BEAUFAIT,Freeland, WA,SIN R1 GT4,13,Running,39:56.282,13.171
19,1, TC,Nick WITTMER,Montreal, Quebec, CA,BMW M235iR,13,Running,39:58.601,15.490
20,2, TC,Stefan SAJIC,Belgrade, Serbia,BMW M235iR,13,Running,39:58.920,15.809
21,3, TC,Nicholas BARBATO,Wallingford, CT,Genesis Coupe,13,Running,39:59.934,16.823
22,4, TC,Jeff RICCA,Milford, CT,Genesis Coupe,13,Running,39:59.950,16.839
23,5, TC,Marko RADISIC,Belgrade, Serbia,BMW M235iR,13,Running,40:01.891,18.780
24,6, TC,Toby GRAHOVEC,Celina, TX,BMW M235iR,13,Running,40:02.289,19.178
25,7, TC,Max FEDLER,Denver, CO,BMW M235iR,13,Running,40:02.839,19.728
26,8, TC,Jayson CLUNIE,Prince Albert, Sask, CA,BMW M235iR,13,Running,40:03.604,20.493
27,9, TC,Gino CARINI,Milwaukee, WI,BMW M235iR,13,Running,40:05.987,22.876
28,11, Am,Frank GANNETT,Steamboat Springs, CO,Ginetta G55,13,Running,40:26.044,42.933
29,9, Pro,Rodrigo BAPTISTA,Barcelona, Spain,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,13,Running,40:34.846,51.735
30,10, Pro,Jeff COURTNEY,Milwaukee, WI,Maserati GT4,9,Not Running,26:59.013,4 LAPS
31,10, TC,Samantha TAN,Gormley, Ontario, CA,BMW M235iR,13,DNF,40:04.637,21.526
32,12, Am,Cameron CASSELS,Coldstream, BC, CA,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,0,NC,,
33,11, TC,Cody ELLSWORTH,,Porsche Cayman,0,NC,,