Lawson Aschenbach, driving the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4, won the first race of the weekend for the GTS class in Pirelli World Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Second across the line was the Ian James in the #50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT. Taking the final podium position was Harry Gottsacker in the #69 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55.
Starting from second on the grid, Aschenbach took the lead in an incident-filled start which saw contact between the #3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR driven by Rodrigo Baptisto and Fred Roberts in the #89 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 result in a lengthy FCY while Roberts was carefully extracted from his car. Thankfully Roberts was shaken but uninjured.
Baptisto in the #3 car was able to continue but was black-flagged and asked to report to the race stewards.
The race went green after being neutralised for over 20 minutes and Aschenbach took full advantage, immediately pulling out a gap of over four seconds from Gottsacker in the #69 car.
A further Safety Car period was required after contact between the #11, #99 and #62 cars which resulted in Jeff Courtney in the #99 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 and Mark Klenin in the #62 McLaren 570S GT4 stopping out on the circuit. Tony Gaples in thre #11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4 continued to circulate with damage to the front-right corner but retired the car after being served a penalty resulting from the incident.
Lawson Aschenbach was understandably delighted after the victory.
“This track is our track. This is Blackdog’s track – we do so well here every year. Our Chevrolet Camaro GT4 was fast – it was fast straight off the trailer and it feels good to finally get our first win of the year. We’ve got a lot of success but no wins.”
“The key to the race was the re-starts,” continued Aschenbach. “The start was a bit of a cluster and we didn’t know what was going to happen but at the re-starts you had to hit it hard right away. Fortunately they worked out for us and won us the race. I’m not sure if we were truly the fastest car but I’m really happy to put Chevrolet back on top of the podium.”
George Kurtz in the #04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4 won the GTSA category and finished fourth overall.
“We’ve got a great team and great car and luck was on our side,” said Kurtz. “We weren’t the fastest in qualifying but I knew a consistent race using the speed of the McLaren would give us good results and we did.”
Race 2 of the weekend for the GTS class will be at 09:05 local time (14:05 BST) On Sunday July 30.