Austin PWC: Baptista scores GTS win, Aschenbach takes title
A great opening lap move by Rodrigo Baptista helped him take his fourth Pirelli World Challenge GTS victory of the as Lawson Aschenbach earned the class championship.
Baptista, driving a Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR, shot straight into second place from the standing start and then passed polesitter Harry Gottsacker’s Ginetta G55 at the end of the straight.
It wasn’t a simple disappearing act by the Brazilian as he then had to battle with Gottsacker and Parker Chase (Ginetta) but late in the 50-minute race he was able to eke out a small margin, winning by 2.8sec.
“I had a really good start,” said Baptista. “After that I just tried to build and manage the gap. COTA is more like the tracks I know, since I race in Europe. I like the (U.S.) tracks but not so much here since the car is not the best here. The team is very good. As far as the tracks, I try the simulators before racing, but it's not the same.”
Runner-up position was in dispute right up to the final lap, with Gottsacker attempting to pass Chase but then spinning. That allowed Jeff Courtney’s Maserati to come home third and Drew Stavely (Ginetta) to take fourth. Gottsacker recovered in time to grab fifth.
Lawson Aschenbach’s ninth place in the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R was enough to clinch his third Leading into the final two rounds at Sonoma Raceway on Sept. 16-17, Aschenbach has 326 points to 252 of Ian James of Paradise Valley, Arizona in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT.
“Thanks to everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop and Chevrolet,” said Aschenbach. “The Camaro GT4.R has been a great car all year. The hard work and dedication of everyone at Chevrolet, Pratt & Miller and our teams has been vital to our success. To get this championship is a big thing, but we’re not done. We want to win the Manufacturer’s and Team championships, and hopefully we can take care of that early at Sonoma.”
Rounding out the top-10 positions were Martin Barkey in the Mantella Autosports KTM X-Bow, Scott Dollahite’s Lotus Evora, Nate Stacy in the second Flying Lizard Porsche, Aschenbach and GTS Am winner George Kurtz in the GMG McLaren 570S.
Kurtz’ victory in the GTS Am class was his ninth of the season and he now leads Tony Gaples by 51 points entering the two Sonoma rounds.
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