All weekend at Lime Rock Park, Pirelli World Challenge’s GTS class has been a heads-up battle for supremacy between the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R of Blackdog Speed Shop’s Lawson Aschenbach and the ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4 of Brett Sandberg. The two spent all of race No. 1 Friday fighting each other. Race No. 2 was more of the same with a different outcome.
By virtue of the fastest lap in Friday’s first race, Sandberg started on the pole. However, just like Friday, Aschenbach used the power advantage of his Camaro to jump around the outside of Sandberg in Big Bend to take over the lead. From there, the battle was on. Sandberg would move in on Aschenbach as the tires would wear off. However, once he got there, the X-Bow GT4 would heat up. That would force Sandberg to drop back in order to cool his car down.
Like on Friday, an early caution gave Aschenbach a chance to cool his tires. In this case, Mantella Autosport’s Anthony Mantella and Performance Motorsports Group’s Harry Gottsacker collided exiting turn 4. Both drivers then stalled while trying to get back to the pits. Gottsacker was able to get back on track briefly, but Mantella was out on the spot.
Behind the two leaders, Gottsacker’s teammate Parker Chase was third, but he was being pressured heavily by Hugh Plumb, who replaced Dore Chaponick, Jr. in ANSA Motorsports’ No. 12 KTM X-Bow GT4. The two fought hard for the third spot until contact was made exiting Big Bend. Plumb spun out into the grass, while Chase continued on minus a small piece of the right rear quarterpanel. Plumb ended up resuming as well, but not before losing a lap to the leaders.
Pirelli World Challenge officials considered that to be avoidable contact and gave Chase a drive-through penalty. The penalty thrust Racers Edge Motorsports’ Jade Buford (just signed for the remainder of the season) into third.
Sandberg continued to press Aschenbach as the laps wound down. With about eight minutes to go, Sandberg got alongside Aschenbach for the lead. Aschenbach fought back and the two drivers raced side-by-side for a full half lap around the short circuit. Aschenbach was able to get the advantage back, but it laid the seeds for another attempt by Sandberg.
A couple of laps later, Sandberg was finally able to get to the inside go on the frontstretch. Here, Aschenbach could do nothing to prevent Sandberg’s KTM from going into the lead.
A half a lap later, Aschenbach tried to get the lead back entering the chicane that bypasses the Climbing Turn. Contact was made and both drivers spun and damaged their mounts. Buford was running a few seconds back and was able to avoid the wreckage and take the lead.
Aschenbach rejoined the track in fourth spot and immediately put the pressure on Scott Dollahite in the Lotus Evora. He was able to take the spot before the full course yellow came out for Sandberg, who had failed to get back underway.
With only a couple of minutes to go at the time, the race ended under yellow. As a result, Buford coasted to his third win of the year in only four starts.
Afterward, Buford was cognizant of his good fortune.
“We definitely took advantage of some attrition today,” Buford said in the pits. “Some drivers made mistakes today and we took advantage of them. We just needed to run our best race possible, and that’s what we did. The Racers Edge [Motorsports] guys gave me a great car, and I couldn’t be happier to get another win for SIN Cars.”
Behind Buford was Martin Barkey for Mantella Autosport in a season-best second. Aschenbach was able to drag his stricken Camaro to third. Dollahite was fourth, while Chase came back from his pass-through penalty to finish fifth. The late crash allowed Plumb to get back on the lead lap, where he finished 10th. Sandberg ended up 11th, four laps down.
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