- Bartone, Mercedes, claims first SRO3 win
- Branam and Aston Martin scores GT4 honors
The GT America Powered by AWS field returned to the track early Sunday morning for Race Two in the GT Sonoma protected by CrowdStrike weekend at Sonoma Raceway. The 40-minute race was marked by dominance and drama, serving up performances across the field that were nothing short of enthralling and jaw-dropping.
Pole sitter Adam Adelson lost no time in his No.120 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (991.ii) as the green flag waved. The rookie pulled away from the field and never looked back until the checked flag, crossing the finish line to claim his first victory in the series. Drama punctuated the GT4 Class, but Jon Brenam ultimately prevailed in his No. 77 TR3 Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 after pulling off a remarkable comeback drive.
Yesterday’s second-place finisher, Adam Adelson, lined up first on the grid followed by the No.04 Crowdstrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3 of George Kurtz and Race One winner Memo Gidley in his No. 101 TKO Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. The trio treated the crowds to an intense showdown yesterday, and spectators could expect more of the same from them today.
In the opening laps, Kurtz challenged Adelson for first place as Jason Daskalos in the No. 27 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 was pressuring Gidley for a spot in the Top 3. Race One winner Gidley was able to brilliantly defend his position, scoring the fastest lap of the race. While constantly looking in his mirrors, Gidley didn’t neglect the battle upfront as he was closing in on Kurtz.
The No. 427 RealTime Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Anthony Bartone came in hot into the mix as the ex-GT4 driver made his way from fifth to second place in an impressive manner. The crowd was treated to thrilling on-track battles between Bartone, Jason Daskalos and Kurtz. Bartone made a spectacular overtake on Gidley for third place with 20 minutes to go, and closed the gap on Kurtz to 0.6 tenths in the last stage of the race. End of race shuffling saw the No. 427 RealTime Racing Mercedes-AMG make the final pass for second where the car would remain with the race ending under caution.
Adelson crossed the line in first place, but got moved to last classified finisher due to a technical infraction. Anthony Bartone thus claimed his first win, followed by George Kurtz and Race-One winner Memo Gidley rounding off the podium.
Robb Holland, who was victorious in Saturday’s outing, started Race Two on pole position in his No. 099 Rotek Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport. He had a great start off the line and sped over the rolling hills at Sonoma as a battle for second began to shape up behind him.
Ross Chouest, despite his best efforts in the No. 50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4, quickly came under pressure from Todd Coleman approaching rapidly in the No. 69 Archangel Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4. Coleman went for the move and made it stick with 32 minutes remaining, and set his sights on Holland up ahead.
However, the fruits of their labors would both go unrewarded, as the two collided, resulting in Coleman clipping Holland’s front tire, dropping him far down the running order. From there, the new leader was able to pull a 2-second gap to Jason Bell who was charging ahead in his No. 2 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4. Coleman was ultimately handed a drive-through penalty, which he served with 15 minutes left on the clock. This incident had massive repercussions on the outcome of the race, with both frontrunners taken out of contention, leaving the winning opportunity wide open and up for grabs.
Meanwhile, Jon Branam was flying through the field after starting the race in last, blasting past Bell into the lead, with Elias Sabo hot in pursuit in third place on board the No. 8 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4. The drama only continued to heat up as Bell unexpectedly crashed into the barriers, bringing out a full course caution with 6 minutes remaining in the race.
The race ended behind the safety car, with Branam safely cruising into victory, followed by Sabo and Chouest. It was a sheer display of dominance across the board in the GT4 class for Aston Martin, with the top five finishers all from the same manufacturer.
“I was just trying to keep it clean and bring home the car in one piece,” explained race winner Jon Branam. “We managed to stay out of trouble and keep out of everyone’s way. This was a last minute switch, Paul Keibler had a family emergency, and our thoughts and prayers are with him. I can’t say enough about this TR3 Racing team, I’ve been friends with Greg Romanelli for 10 years and we know each other very well, and to have the opportunity to drive for him is a dream come true.”
The GT4 America field will be back in action at NOLA Motorsports Park April 28th to the 30th.
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