The 2023 GT America Powered by AWS championship began this weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Flying Lizard Motorsports closed out rounds one and two with driver Jason Bell and his Aston Martin Vantage GT4 earning one win and a second podium finish. Andy Wilzoch made his circuit debut in his No. 460 Porsche 911 GT3 R (type 911.2), earning a hard-fought seventh-place finish.
The weekend hosted two 40-minute sprint races on the temporary street course, racing under perfect spring Florida weather for the two-day event. Running in support of the NTT IndyCar Series, the GT America competitors thrilled the downtown St. Petersburg crowds, putting on a great show for the fans.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2023 season in the GT4 class,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “Jason Bell had a great drive qualifying on the front row for both races, leading both races, and finishing in third and first positions. Andy had a solid run in the first race with a seventh-place finish. Unfortunately, the second race didn’t go as planned but we are looking forward to going to our home event at Sonoma. It was a great start to the season and we collected solid points toward the championship. We are looking forward to rounds three and four in a few weeks.”
GT3 | Andy Wilzoch
Though an accomplished racer, Andy Wilzoch had yet to previously race at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Despite the limited practice time, Wilzoch became well acquainted with the temporary street circuit during the two practice sessions and qualified ninth for the first race in his No. 460 Porsche. Due to track delays, Friday afternoon’s race was pushed into the evening, setting the scene for a beautiful sunset race on Tampa Bay. Just after the green flag, two separate cars crashed in the opening lap, bringing out a full-course caution. Wilzoch had moved up from ninth to seventh, avoiding calamity and the ensuing debris to maintain position and finish his first race on the temporary street course without any damage.
His clean start set him up to start Saturday’s race two from seventh position. An unfortunate incident in the opening lap ended Wilzoch’s race early, due to heavy damage sustained by the Porsche making contact with the concrete wall.
GT4 | Jason Bell
After a strong qualifying race, Jason Bell started the first race of the season in second place, just behind the No. 69 Aston Martin of Todd Coleman. For the majority of the 30-minute race, the two put on a captivating performance, racing nose to tail throughout the 2.9-mile, 14-turn course. With 15 minutes to go, Bell assumed the lead and created a commanding gap over the second-place car, sailing to the checkered flag. Misfortune struck when the front right tire on the Aston Martin received a puncture from track debris with just two laps to go. He expertly nursed the car through the final two laps, still achieving a third-place finish.
His fastest lap in race one set him up to start race two from pole position, leading the field to green under sunny skies and warm temperatures. Like the previous day, the race went full course caution in the first lap, and the temporary pause ate up much of the racing time. On the restart, Bell kept the lead, looking to stay up front for the remaining 15 minutes. He finished the race with a five-second lead over the No. 25 car of Gray Newell, defending his race two win from 2022.
The GT America series will continue with Rounds Three and Four at Sonoma Raceway, on March 30-April 2. The weekend will also see the start of the Pirelli GT4 America season, where Elias Sabo and Andy Lee will return in the No. 8 Aston Martin Vantage GT4. A home track for Flying Lizard, the team will have many cars in several programs competing, eager to put on a good event for the home crowd. For more information, visit lizardms.com.