Buford Dominates GT4 Race 2 on Streets of St. Petersburg
Jade Buford converted a pole-winning run into a flag-to-flag victory in Sunday’s Pirelli GT4 America Sprint race on the streets of St. Petersburg.
The PF Racing driver took his #41 Ford Mustang GT4 to a dominant 10.444-second win in the second race of the season-opening weekend, rebounding from an incident in Race 1 that potentially denied him of a weekend sweep.
Starting from pole courtesy of setting the race’s fastest lap on Saturday, Buford stretched into an early lead over the Race 1-winning #50 Panoz Avezzano GT4 of Ian James, as well as the pair of Robinson Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.Rs.
Buford continued to extend his gap throughout the 50-minute race, which ran caution-free.
It was Ford’s first overall win of the GT4 America season, which kicked off at Circuit of The Americas last weekend for SprintX as well as the East and West series.
Gar Robinson finished second on Sunday in the #74 Robinson Camaro following a late move around the #66 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport of Spencer Pumpelly. Robinson was initially forced to surrender the position due to contact between the two cars in a previous incident.
Pumpelly faded to fourth at the checkered flag following a last-lap pass by Shane Lewis for the final podium position, with James completing the top-five after battling an unspecified issue with his Panoz.
While running a strong second early on, the Englishman lost the position to Pumpelly on Lap 16 and then was passed by the two Robinson Camaros.
Calvert Makes Last-Lap Pass for GT4 Am Victory
Preston Calvert recorded his first GT4 Am win of the season, in a thrilling three-way late-race battle for top class honors.
The Panoz driver passed the #18 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4 of Jarett Andretti in Turn 1 on the final lap and held off a hard-charging Marko Radisic for Team Panoz Racing’s second victory of the weekend.
Andretti faded to third at the end after leading the early stages of the race, while Race 1 winner Alan Brynjolfsson finished fourth, despite an early race spin for his #7 Park Place Motorsports Porsche.
Tony Gaples in the #11 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren dropped down the running order in the closing laps after spinning due to contact with Calvert while battling for second at the time.
It promoted Mark Klenin to a top-five finish in the #62 KPR Performance McLaren.
Next up for Pirelli GT4 America Sprint will be the Streets of Long Beach on April 12-14, with GT4 West set for its second round of the season two weeks earlier at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, in support of the California 8 Hours Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli round.
Jade Buford, #41 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 (Winner, Overall & GT4 Pro): “We were definitely looking for [redemption] after yesterday, which was heartbreaking. We just had to shake it off. The car was quick. It made yesterday even harder because it gave me everything to capitalize on. I just had to manage it. Being able to stretch it out in the beginning and getting a really good start gave us some breathing room.”
Preston Calvert, #51 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4 (Winner, GT4 Am): “Basically you just wait for a small mistake or little opening, maybe you enter the corner a little bit harder than the other guy does and have enough to get by him. With Marko and Jarett, I finally got it done. I want to thank Team Panoz Racing and my wife. This is an incredible event and I can come here every year if I can. It turned out to be the right choice and the car is still in one piece!”