- Conquest Racing dominates and brings home two wins in Silver and AM
- NOLASPORT wins overall and PRO-AM class
- Results of race 1
The GT4 America field finished Saturday’s program with the first race as the sun began to set over the California hills. Forty cars took part on the hilly course to compete in an hour-long race where anything could have happened in all three classes.
The race was a real thrill, with several cars that could have claimed overall and class wins. All bets were void when the green flag flew as some riders were keen to stretch their elbows. A few warnings punctuated the race, but in the end the PRO-AM No. 47 NOLASPORT entry by Matt Travis and Jason Hart overall with the No. 34 Conquest Racing / JMF Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 driven by Jesse Webb and Michai Stephens with victory in the silver class and third place overall. Conquest Racing’s sister car, the No. 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4, won top honors in the Am class.
The Silver class stole the show, spurred on by young talent Jesse Webb, who raced into the distance in the #34 Conquest Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. The polesitter wasted no time trying to gain a gap to the following cars. However, a yellow flag at the start of the session temporarily halted his progress.
When the green flag flew again with 48 minutes left in the race, Webb established a significant lead and just moments later set his fastest lap of the race.
The Pirelli GT4 America field was long plagued by caution and the race resumed with 25 minutes remaining on the clock. Pit stop strategies were paramount and some gambles really paid off. Most of the field opted to come down the pit lane one lap after the restart, but Race Director Jesse Webb fell by the wayside and opted for a different strategy. Although not in the same class, this decision came from the PRO-AM No. 47 NOLASPORT machine that took the overall and the PRO-AM class victory.
It was a tight field at the end of the race but ultimately Conquest Racing’s Jesse Webb and Michai Stephens came home with victory in the Silver class, followed by the No.92 Random Vandals Racing BMW M4 GT4 of Kevin Boehm and Kenton Koch and the #19 ACI Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport driven by Francis Selldorff and Andrew Davis. The #51 Auto Technic Racing BMW M4 GT4 received a late penalty for a short pit stop, which knocked them down the ranks and resulted in them missing out on third place on the podium.
“It’s an absolutely delightful experience, you couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season for us,” said Canadian driver Jesse Webb after his maiden GT4 America victory. “It’s great to have Michai (Stephens) as a teammate. We will enjoy the moment now but we will keep our heads down and move on for tomorrow.”
Michai Stephens echoed his teammate’s thoughts; “We are aiming for the best possible result this season. We have all the tools in the making right here. It’s a nice start to the season. Of course, we also have to give credit to John Farrow, Eric Bachelart, Ian Willis, Richard and everyone else on the team. We really appreciate the opportunity to be here.”
The theme of the race in the PRO-AM class was ‘Argy Bargy’ as the drivers in the field quickly fought for every opportunity. That approach came at the expense of Carter Fartuch, who suffered a right rear tire early in the session in his #37 Skip Barber Racing School Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4. Todd Coleman’s #069 Archangel Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 was also not unscathed, his race being ended with a broken suspension.
After the long caution that knocked out the #428 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 of van der Steur Racing and the #54 McLaren Artura GT4 of Black Swan Racing, the drivers opened the throttle to go to the checkered flag. NOLASPORT had an excellent strategy, with the No. 47 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 emerging from its pit stops in first place overall. The clear track ahead allowed them to drive through to the finish line, albeit with some dramatic final laps with traffic holdups.
“This win is fantastic, we’re happy to be back and to win the first race of the season is great,” said Matt Travis enthusiastically after the race. “It will be a very competitive and exciting season. Shake and bake!”
“I am very happy to be here with Matt Travis, NOLASPORT and Porsche,” said Jason Hart. “We’ve got off to a great start and we’ll do our best to keep it going.”
Substantially adrift of the leaders, Kay van Berlo in the No. 7 ACI Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport was never able to catch them before the checkered flag, despite making significant gains in the final stages of the race, earning Heim a second-place finish for the team . His efforts earned him the CrowdStrike Fast Lap of the Race Award.
Rounding out the podium was the #50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4, co-driven by Canadians Aaron Povoledo and Ross Chouest, who stayed out of trouble and put on an excellent race.
Conquest Racing wins two of the three classes thanks to a perfect race from Custodio Toledo and Paulo Carcasci in the #35 Mercedes-AMG GT4. The Brazilian duo drove a relatively quiet and unassuming race, allowing them to perfectly pass the competition and go home to victory could.
“I’m very grateful to Custódio, he gave me the opportunity to return to racing after 30 years of retirement and it feels fantastic,” said Paulo on the podium. “The team did a great job, we have a fantastic Mercedes car. The whole crew works so hard it’s hard to imagine how much work there is behind the scenes. It’s not just a key moment that brought us here, it was a lot of effort over a long period that gave us this win.”
Custódio Toledo shared Paulo’s opinion; “We worked so hard for this. Paulo and I started this project a year and a half ago and it’s just incredible to get our first win here in GT4 America. I want to thank the whole Conquest Racing team, they did a great job and gave us a great car. It’s an incredible feeling.”
Nicholas Shanny and Terry Borcheller provided action in the AM class, finishing second in their No. 20 Carrus Callas Raceteam Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4 ahead of the No. 36 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 of British driver Charlie Postins and American James Volume.
Race 2 of the Pirelli GT4 America takes place at 10:55 am PT.
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