Ian James, driving the #50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT, came home to take his third victory of the season in Race Two, Round Twelve of the GTS class of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge at Mid-Ohio. Second across the line was the pole-sitter and winner of Race One, Lawson Aschenbach in the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.
Taking the final podium position was Harry Gottsacker, driving the #69 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55.
Aschenbach led the field away from pole-position and appeared to be controlling the race from the front but James, in the #50 car, was on Aschenbach’s rear bumper after twenty minutes of racing, pushing the Floridian driver to the point where race officials were starting to become concerned about Aschenbach’s defensive tactics.
The decisive move came at the start of the eighteenth lap when James took the lead going into Turn One. James then managed to pull out a lead of just under three seconds but Aschenbach remained a threat for the remainder of the 50-minute race, crossing the line 1.917 seconds behind the #50 car.
Ian James knew he was going to have to work hard to pass Aschenbach.
“I had a great battle with Lawson,” said James. “They set their car up to go fast on short stints and we did the opposite and it went in our favour.”
“I was working him round the back of the circuit so I was hoping to get him by surprise. I knew I would only have one chance as I know he’s a pretty good defensive driver, let’s say.”
The Am class was won by George Kurtz in the #04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4, passing Tony Gaples in the #11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4 on the final lap to win by .615 seconds. Third in the Am class was Bob Michaelian in the Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 Gt4.
“It was a great win,” said Kurtz. “We didn’t have a great start – we got checked up at the beginning but we were able to get our heads down and hustle through. It was a long way to go to beat Gaples. Unfortunately I had to wait until the last lap but that’s the only lap that counts.”
“I figured I could get him in the back straight-away and I really just wanted to stay tight and keep the gap close. It was the ‘King Of Late Brakers’ between the two of us! He’s a great driver and it was clean so we were able to get through and we got the win.”
The 50-minute race was largely incident-free with no yellow flags or Safety Cars. The sole retiree was Rodrigo Baptista in the #3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR following damage the car sustained in Race One.
Following his second place, Achenbach maintains his considerable lead in the GTS Drivers Standings on 268 points. Ian James, however, moves into second place in the standings on 181 points, two points ahead of third-placed Martin Barkey in the #80 Mantella Autosport KTM Xbow GT4 on 179 points.
George Kurtz’s win means that he extends his lead over Tony Gaples in the Am class Drivers Standings by two points to 10 points.
Rounds 13 and 14 for the GTS class take place at Utah Motorsports Complex on August 11 – 13.