Scott Maxwell and, taking the car to the chequered flag, Jade Buford took the first GTS SprintX victory in the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge, driving the #55 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4.
Second across the line in the Pro-Am category, after having taken the position in the closing seconds of the 60-minute race, was Harry Gottsacker in the #69 Racers Edge Motorsport SIN R1.
Taking the final podium position in the Pro-Am class was Michael Cooper, driving the #11 Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4 he shared with a much-slimmed Tony Gaples, the Libertyville, IL driver having shed some 40lbs in the off-season.
In the AM category, the victory went to the #12 Ian Lacey Racing Ginetta G55 GT4, driven by Drew Staveley with second in class going to Al Carter and Aurora Straus in the #36 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4. The German manufacturer took two podium positions after Greg Liefooghe finished third in class, driving alongside Henry Schmitt in the #88 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4.
The race got underway to a frustrating start after poorly timed move by Randy Mueller in the #3 Epic Motorsports BMW put Mike Hedlund in the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4 into the pitwall and retirement. The Flying Lizard team worked hard throughout the remainder of the race to get the car back out but to no avail while Randy Mueller was called to the race officials office after the chequered flag had fallen.
The race had barely got underway after a 10-minute safety car period before there was a further coming together between the #50 Team Panoz Racing Avezzani GT4, which had spun at T1 with Matt Keegan at the wheel, and an unsighted Elias Sabo in the #8 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4. With carbon fibre strewn across the track, the safety car was required for another 11 minutes.
The race went green just before the pit-window opened and after the driver changes and compulsory stops had cycled through, it was the #55 PF Racing entry, now with Jade Buford at the wheel, which took the overall lead. With less than five minutes to go, a hard-charging Harry Gottsacker in the #69 entry passed Michael Cooper in the #11 Blackdog Racing entry for second place.
A mad scramble to the line in the Am category saw Al Carter in the #36 ST Racing BMW snatch second, ahead of the #88 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 with Greg Liefooghe at the wheel.
Maxwell and Buford were delighted at their win.
I wasn’t really expecting a win first time out but we’ll take it. Jade had to work really hard at the end for it – I really didn’t have to do too much,” said Scott Maxwell. “This is Jade’s win and PF Racing did a really good job.”
“We earned that one for sure,” said Jade Buford. “Some cars had the outright pace on us but we just executed the perfect race. We knew that our strength was going to be consistency and we just went out and executed the best we could. Some cars have got the outright pace on us and if the cards fall differently, we’ll be a sitting duck but the Ford Performance Mustang GT4 performed flawlessly.”
Race Two for the 2018 GTS SprintX series takes place on Sunday March 25 at 10:15 local time with pole position going to the #38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 driven by Samantha Tan and Nick Wittmer.