- George Kurtz Takes SRO3 Win with Mercedes
- From Pole to P1 for Chouest and Aston Martin in GT4 Class
The GT America powered by AWS field kicked off the first race of the weekend at COTA on Saturday afternoon, and as the track surface began to dry up under the harsh Austin sun, the drivers were quick to unleash the power that lies within their mega machines.
The 40-minute event was nothing short of an exhilarating spectacle, with wheel-to-wheel battles taking place up and down the field throughout the entirety of the race. The race ran uninterrupted from start to finish, much to the delight of excited spectators watching trackside.
George Kurtz and Johnny O'Connell wasted no time getting their elbows out, with the two fighting back and forth right from the get-go in the No. 04 Crowdstrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the No. 56 SKI Autosports Ferrari 458 Italia. Just as one driver would power into the lead, the other would come back swinging to take it right back. It was a thrilling battle that was cut short far too soon, as contact with another car sent the Ferrari spinning off track and tumbling down the leaderboard.
From there, Kurtz was able to give himself some breathing room as he set off down the track. With nothing but clear air ahead of him, he was able to build up a 10 second gap with 20 minutes still remaining in the race, and as the clock continued to tick away, his lead only increased more and more.
The battle for the remaining podium positions was as competitive as ever, with Jason Daskalos in the No. 27 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, James Sofronas in the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVOII and Todd Treffert in the No. 41 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 all fighting within mere inches of each other corner after corner, lap after lap.
In the end, Kurtz went on to cross the finish line first to claim the Race One victory in style. He finished 16.538 seconds ahead of Jason Daskalos, with James Sofronas claiming the final spot on the podium. It was a true sprint to the line, with drivers between second and fifth separated by less than 2 seconds.
As soon as the green flag waved, Jason Bell kept his eyes forward with his hands on the wheel of his No. 2 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 and never looked back. Ross Chouest was hot on his tails on board the No. 50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4, but Bell was able to maintain a small but steady gap to his competitors behind.
Bell was further aided by the battle taking place behind him, with Chouest having to defend from a charging Elias Sabo in the No. 8 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4. The wheel-to-wheel action got even spicier as a trailing Memo Gidley inserted himself into the mix as he attempted to catch up to the rest of the SRO3 pack in the No. 101 TKO Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The second half of the race served up significant drama between the frontrunners, kick-started by Sabo going for a spin. The Flying Lizard Motorsports driver was able to rejoin the track and maintain position.
As the race approached the final two minutes, Bell ran wide at Turn 1 and screeched to a halt. As he maneuvered his way back to the racing line, Chouest was able to catch up and move into the lead as he set off on the final lap of the race. Meanwhile, the time lost from his off-track venture resulted in Bell getting backed up into Sabo and Robb Holland, who was on the hunt for a podium position in the No. 099 Rotek Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport.
Chouest went on to claim the win, with Bell following behind in second place, as the battle behind him raged on as Holland and Sabo made contact on the final lap, sending Sabo spinning yet again while Holland took the final step of the podium.
The GT America powered by AWS field will return for Race Two on Sunday at 8:40am CT. The race is streamed live on the YouTube GT World page and on Twitch, hosted by Ash Vandelay. Watch the action unfold live while you join in the conversation.