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St Pete PWC: Aquilante beats Aschenbach in GTS opener

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St Pete PWC: Aquilante beats Aschenbach in GTS opener
By:
Mar 10, 2017, 6:45 PM

Andrew Aquilante won the opening round of the Pirelli World Challenge’s GTS class on the streets of St Petersburg in his Ford Mustang Boss 302.

#11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4: Tony Gaples
#3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4: Rodrigo Baptista
#9 ANSA Motorsports KTM Xbow GT4: Bill Ziegler
Car of #11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R: Tony Gaples

The race ‘started’ under yellow flags to allow drivers to recon the new-look Turn 3 following issues with the track surface.

At the single-file restart on lap four, poleman Aschenbach’s all-new Chevrolet Camaro GT4 led Parker Chase’s Ginetta, as Aquilante’s bid for second around the outside of Turn 1 failed to come off.

The KTMs of Martin Barkey and Frankie Montecalvo were the big losers as the race began, dropping outside of the top eight from top-six starting spots.

Aquilante passed Chase for second at Turn 1 on lap six, and quickly latched on to the back of leader Aschenbach. Two laps later, Aquilante outbraked Aschenbach at Turn 4 to hit the front.

Chase dropped from third to fifth on lap 12 when his Ginetta’s engine cut-out on the exit of the final corner. That promoted Buford to third, ahead of Rodrigo Baptista’s Porsche Caymen. A few laps later, Chase tumbled out of the picture completely when he ran straight on at Turn 4 when his engine cut-out again.

Out front, the leaders all closed up while lapping traffic at half distance. But another gaggle of slower cars allowed Aquilante to gain a big advantage over Aschenbach, while Buford almost pounced for second at Turn 1.

The final laps were a shootout between the two American muscle cars, with Aschenbach squeezing every ounce from his Pirellis but it wasn’t enough for Chevy to overcome Ford – and Aquilante not only scored victory but also set fastest lap for pole position in race two on Saturday.

Baptista was a very distant fourth, ahead of Barkey and Nate Stacy’s Porsche.

Ian James ran sixth in the new Panoz Avezzano early on, until a cloud of smoke signalled its demise with transmission issues.

GTS race results 

Cla DriversCarLapTimeGapInterval
1   united_states  Andrew Aquilante  Ford Mustang Boss 302 36 51'24.163    
2   united_states  Lawson Aschenbach Chevrolet Camaro GT4 36 51'26.713 2.550 2.550
3   united_states  Jade Buford  SIN R1 GT4 36 51'27.842 3.679 1.129
4   brazil  Rodrigo Baptista  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 36 52'04.867 40.704 37.025
5   canada  Martin Barkey  KTM XBow GT4 36 52'13.386 49.223 8.519
6   united_states  Nathan Stacy  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 36 52'16.023 51.860 2.637
7   united_states  Tony Gaples  Chevrolet Camaro GT4 36 52'18.021 53.858 1.998
8   united_states  Jason Bell  SIN R1 GT4 36 52'18.674 54.511 0.653
9   united_states  Frankie Montecalvo  KTM XBow GT4 36 52'19.630 55.467 0.956
10   canada  Anthony Mantella  KTM XBow GT4 36 52'38.258 1'14.095 18.628
11   united_states  Mark Klenin  McLaren 570S GT4 36 52'42.647 1'18.484 4.389
12   united_states  George Kurtz  McLaren 570S GT4 35 51'35.687 1 Lap 1 Lap
13   united_states  Adam Merzon  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 35 52'07.455 1 Lap 31.768
14   united_states  Cameron Maugeri  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 35 52'08.015 1 Lap 0.560
15   united_states  Bill Ziegler  KTM XBow GT4 34 52'12.455 2 Laps 1 Lap
16   canada  Cameron Cassels  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 32 51'35.151 4 Laps 2 Laps
17   united_states  Parker Chase  Ginetta G55 32 51'50.873 4 Laps 15.722
18   united_states  Harry Gottsacker  Ginetta G55 24 35'17.057 12 Laps 8 Laps
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