Elkhart Lake, Wis. — Brett Sandberg won in GTS Round 12 at the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Road America presented by Cadillac. Milwaukee’s Jeff Courtney finished second, while Scott Heckert finished third. Weather conditions for the 50-minute race saw temperatures in the mid 80s and a few clouds on a beautiful day in Wisconsin.
With the lights going out for the standing start, pole-sitter Sandberg, in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4, took the early lead ahead of Scott Dollahite, in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, who moved into second from fourth on the grid as Martin Barkey in the No. 80 Mantella Autosport MBRP Sportlab Sawmill Creative KTM X-Bow GT4, fell back to third.
On the run up to turn six on the opening lap, Dollahite and Barkey made contact, with the incident also involving Jade Buford, in the No. 45 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, with all three drivers finding themselves in the grass and falling back through the field. The incident would have the worst effect on Dollahite, who was forced to visit pit road with reported suspension damage.
That left Sandberg in the lead over Saturday winner Derek DeBoer, in the No. 09 TRG-AMR BRM Chronographes/Rebounderz/Rohnert Park/Racing for Cancer/Pirata Della Strada/Simon Ward Aston Martin Vantage GT4, and Ernie Francis Jr., in the No. 98 Breathless Racing Beta Tools/Liquid Performance Ford Mustang.
Of note, Lawson Aschenbach, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, went from 18th to ninth on the opening lap, earning him the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award.
By lap two, the action saw Francis Jr. holding off a charging Courtney, in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports RecStuff.com/Kenda Maserati GranTurismo, in fourth with the battle also including Anthony Mantella, driving the No. 8 Mantella Autosport Inc. Gulf KTM X-Bow, running in fifth as Nate Stacy, driving the No. 14 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Boss 302, also closed in from sixth bringing Buford and Aschenbach, who was now up to eighth, with him.
After a spirited fight, Courtney passed Francis Jr. for third on lap four with a move to the inside of turn five, while at the front, Sandberg was leading DeBoer by 2.125 seconds.
Lap six saw Stacy enter pit road with an overheating car while Francis Jr. had his hands full, leading a tight race for fourth with Buford, Mantella and Max Riddle, in the No. 07 TRG-AMR Adobe Road Winery, LaSalle Solutions Aston Martin Vantage GT4, following.
Buford made his move in turn five on lap seven, taking over the fourth position in front of Francis Jr. Riddle was the next to pass Francis Jr., taking over fifth lap later on the front straight.
Aschenbach continued his move through the field, passing Mantella for eighth on lap eight, as Heckert, in the No. 54 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, had moved up to seventh and then passed Francis Jr. for sixth.
The moves for Aschenbach continued on lap 10, passing Francis Jr. for seventh in turn 14 and bringing Mantella with him, with Francis Jr. then re-passing Mantella.
The half-way mark of the race had Sandberg in the lead with a 4.216 second gap over DeBoer, who was under attack from Courtney for second place.
Courtney made an attempt at the pass on lap 15, powering under DeBoer down the front straight and taking second exiting turn one, and finding himself some 4.8 seconds behind Sandberg with 15 minutes to go. The move gave Courtney the Cadillac ATS-V Best Move of the Race Award.
DeBoer was then passed by Buford exiting Canada Corner, demoting DeBoer to fourth while Heckert had worked his way up to fifth on lap 17, followed by Riddle, Mantella and Aschenbach. Heckert then took over fourth place, passing DeBoer to fall in line behind his Racers Edge teammate.
On lap 18 and as the clock counted down with nine minutes to go, Courtney had upped his pace, bringing the lead gap down to 3.159 seconds.
Heckert then made the move for third place on his teammate, out-braking Buford into turn five and slotting into third on the charge up the hill to turn six.
Sandberg would go on to take the victory, flag-to-flag, at Road America, with Courtney finishing second after making up some ground on the leader. Heckert completed the podium ahead of teammate Buford, who finished fourth as Mantella rounded out the top five.
Riddle completed the race in sixth, while Aschenbach’s move through the field saw the Camaro driver finish seven, with DeBoer and Francis Jr. following. George Kurtz, in the No. 04 TRG-AMR Crowd Strike Aston Martin GT4, completed the top 10 on Sunday afternoon in Elkhart Lake. Riddle was named the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger, improving 11 positions during the race.
“It was an eventful weekend for us,” said Sandberg. “I thought we were going to have a pretty good day Saturday when I saw Lawson (Aschenbach, GTS point leader) go off on the first lap. But then we had our suspension issues. I was really excited to be on the pole today. We made some changes with the X-Bow’s setup as we thought conditions would be different with the IndyCar rubber. And it paid off. The crew have worked extremely hard to get the car where it is right now. That is exciting for the ANZA Motorsports team. I think the GTS series is going to continue to grow. It’s testament to the series and the balance of all of the cars involved. It’s tough to balance all of the different cars. It showed on Saturday. I don’t think I seen a battle that close with that many different makes this year. The GTS series is only getting better and better.”
“Surprisingly, I’m a little disappointed today,” said Courtney. “I thought I had a car to win. Both days I had bad starts. It was tough to work my way up the field. Saturday, I kind of got bull rushed and trapped at the start. I drove hard to get up to eighth. Today, my right rear got pushed in and I caught up with some littler cars before I could get a clear track. Nothing came easy today. I thought we had a car to win. It still feels good to be on the podium. We tested here and I felt good about the car. I missed the opportunity to win in GT with the Viper a few years ago and that still stings. I think everybody has their spots out there on the track. It’s tough to balance all of the different cars in the GTS class. We are very happy to be the first team to put the Maserati on the podium. If the future manufacturers who are rumored to come to GTS come into the series, it will be a fantastic category. Obviously, the GT3 class is a great show, but the GT4 cars could be even better racing.”
“It was a very hectic race. We started third on the grid but we have been struggling with standing start,” said Heckert. “I dropped back to fourth or fifth and I was elated with that, to be honest. I knew we had the pace to run up front. Then, in turn six, I think second and third got together and I had to go to the grass to avoid them. From there, I came from 14th and just ran qualifying laps to the finish. I had to be as aggressive as I could be. We did have the pace and we had a good race to finish third. It’s funny when you are racing the same car (Jade Buford) as you have. You know the car’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s the only car in the field as my car. I notice I was a little stronger on the brakes and that helped me get by Jade. The racing on Saturday in GTS was outstanding and today would have been good too if the start wasn’t jumbled up. Coming from NASCAR, this type of racing is much different but I really like it. It is very fun and exciting for the fans.”
Results are provisional until posted final. With the win, his second of the 2016 season, Sandberg takes over the lead in the GTS Driver’s Championship. Watch extended coverage of the weekend’s races from Road America on CBS Sports Network at 9 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, July 7. Next up, GTS drivers and teams visits Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 29-31.
Elkhart Lake, WI — Results from Sunday, June 26, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship GTS Round 12 race, part of the Pirelli World Challenge Road America Grand Prix presented by Cadillac. Results shown by driver position, place in class, class, name, hometown, car, laps completed and running status. All results are provisional until posted final.
1. 1, GTS, Brett Sandberg, Allendale NJ, KTM X-Bow GT4, 22, Running
2. 2, GTS, Jeff Courtney, Milwaukee WI, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 22, Running
3. 3, GTS, Scott Heckert, Ridgefield CT, SIN R1 GT4, 22, Running
4. 4, GTS, Jade Buford, Brentwood TN, SIN R1 GT4, 22, Running
5. 5, GTS, Anthony Mantella, Toronto ON, KTM X-Bow GT4, 22, Running
6. 6, GTS, Max Riddle, Vancouver BC, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 22, Running
7. 7, GTS, Lawson Aschenbach, Palm Beach Gardens FL, Chevrolet Camaro, 22, Running
8. 8, GTS, Derek DeBoer, Novato CA, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 22, Running
9. 9, GTS, Ernie Francis Jr., Miami FL, Ford Mustang, 22, Running
10. 10, GTS, George Kurtz, Scottsdale AZ, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 22, Running
11. 11, GTS, Tony Gaples, Libertyville IL, Chevrolet Camaro, 22, Running
12. 12, GTS, Bill Ziegler, Ponte Verdra FL, KTM XBow GT4, 22, Running
13. 13, GTS, Martin Barkey, Huntsville QC, KTM XBow GT4, 22, Running
14. 14, GTS, Harry Gottsacker, San Antonio TX, Ginetta GT4, 21, Running
15. 15, GTS, Nate Stacy, Owasso OK, Ford Boss 302, 20, Running
16. 16, GTS, Scott Dollahite, Austin TX, Lotus Evora, 16, Running
17. 17, GTS, Parker Chase, New Braunfels TX, Ginetta GT4, 14, Not Running
18. 18, GTS, Mark Klenin, Lone Tree CO, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 8, MissedSeveralLaps
19. 19, GTS, Kevin Marshall, Incline Village NV, Lotus GT4, 0, DNS
20. 20, GTS, Ron Ballard, Phoenix AZ, MASERATI GranTurismo MC Trofeo, 0, DNS