After Daytona’s sports car season opener, Multimatic Motorsports decided to dedicate themselves to helping customers with the new Ford Mustang GT4 instead of fielding one themselves. The car Multimatic ran at Daytona is in Europe for GT4 homologation testing. As a result, drivers Scott Maxwell and Jade Buford were moved to KohR Motorsports and raced at Sebring in a brand-new car.
On Friday afternoon, Maxwell and Buford won the Visit Sebring 120 to give the new Mustang GT4 its first-ever win, a picture-perfect race with a chassis that lived up to the hype.
“The car ran flawlessly and the strategy was perfect,” he said after the race. “It feels good to get the first win for the Ford Mustang GT4. We were so close at Daytona, and in my mind, Sebring is just as special. It was a good win for KohR [Motorsports] and Ford Performance and NanoProMT and we earned it.”
Dave Pericak, Global Director for Ford Performance, was overjoyed with the quick success of the Mustang GT4.
“It’s great to get that first win for the Ford Mustang GT4 race car,” Pericak stated. “In its two races so far, it’s showing beyond a doubt that it has the potential to carry on Ford Mustang’s winning legacy into the future. We can’t wait for customers to be able to race it around the world. Our congratulations to Scott and Jade on a terrific race today and to KohR Motorsports for their first win with us.”
Friday morning, Buford qualified the No. 60 on pole. Once the race started, Buford was able to hold off a McLaren brigade led by C360R’s Paul Holton. Meanwhile, the second KohR Motorsports Mustang GT4 of Jack Roush Jr. and Dean Martin was forced to start from the rear due to an infraction in qualifying. Roush appeared to have a great car, but was stuck having to charge through the field.
Roush was able to get up to fourth before a battery issue stranded the No. 59 on course. Roush’s issues brought out the first full-course caution just before minimum drive-time was reached. The pits opened about 20 seconds too early for the leaders, jumbling up the field. When the green came back out, it was CJ Wilson Racing’s Marc Miller in the lead and Maxwell back in fifth.
It took Maxwell all of three laps to get back to the overall lead. However, he made his final pit stop for a splash of fuel shortly afterwards. Maxwell’s move kicked off a series of different pit stop schedules, putting Automatic Racing/VOLT Racing’s Chris Hall in the lead. Hall swapped the advantage with Motorsport in Action’s Jesse Lazare until Lazare made his final stop.
The second and final full course yellow flew inside of 30 minutes remaining when the No. 34 Murillo Racing Mazda MX-5 of Christian Szymczak stalled in the runoff at turn 10. Hall and C360R’s Nico Rondet hadn’t stopped since the previous caution and were up front at the time. Maxwell was third, the best of those who had stopped.
On the restart, Hall couldn’t get going, allowing Rondet to sweep past. However, Maxwell was one of the fastest cars on track prior to the yellow and blitzed past both drivers up front. From there, Maxwell ran off into the distance for the win.
Motorsport in Action’s No. 69 McLaren for Lazare and Chris Green finished second, 2.548 seconds back. Rondet and Matthew Keegan were third in another McLaren, while CJ Wilson Racing’s Damien Faulkner and Russell Ward were fourth. The No. 76 McLaren of Holton and Matt Plumb were fifth.
In Street Tuner, the class came down to a five-car race for the win between Murillo Racing’s Eric Foss, Rennsport One’s Spencer Pumpelly, CRG-I Do Borrow’s Owen Trinkler, Connor Bloum in the No. 18 Porsche for Rennsport One and Greg Liefooghe in the No. 81 BMW for BimmerWorld Racing. However, the pack began to whittle away. Liefooghe dropped back with issues in the closing minutes, while Bloum lost the leaders.
Trinkler was able to get past Pumpelly for second just after the restart and pressured Foss for the lead. The two raced hard for laps at a time until Trinkler got a run exiting turn 13. Then, this happened:
Foss’ spin allowed Trinkler to briefly take the lead, but Pumpelly took advantage of the lost momentum to jump from third to first. From there, Pumpelly held off Trinkler for the final two laps and change to take the win.
CRG-I Do Borrow’s Sarah Cattaneo won the pole in her Nissan Altima Coupe, but it was BimmerWorld Racing owner/driver James Clay who took the lead on the first lap in his BMW 328i. Clay held the advantage easily while Cattaneo dropped back to fourth behind Murillo Racing’s Jeff Mosing and Bodymotion Racing’s Devin Jones. Freedom Autosport’s MX-5’s for Chad McCumbee and Robby Foley were fifth and sixth, followed by defending co-champion Nick Galante with a fresh nose on the No. 17 Porsche following a smash in Daytona.
Friday was just not the day for Murillo Racing’s No. 34 team. In addition to Szymczak stalling on course to bring out the last caution, co-driver Christopher Stone was involved in two incidents in Sunset Bend (turn 17). First, he spun out on his own and flat-spotted his tires. A disastrous pit stop afterwards put him a lap down. Shortly after rejoining the race, Stone was hit by the Automatic Racing Aston Martin driven by Rob Ecklin Jr. and spun again. Rennsport One’s No. 28 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR driven by Dylan Murcott was also collected.
Clay held the lead until the first yellow flew for Roush’s stalled Mustang. Once the pits were opened up for ST teams, the entire feel of the race was turned upside down. Clay pitted to turn over to Tyler Cooke, but trouble broke out on the stop. Clay didn’t seem to know what happened, but he wasn’t happy afterwards as the No. 84 BMW dropped to 13th.
After the stops, the No. 44 Nissan regained the lead with Trinkler now at the wheel. Behind Trinkler, Foss in the Murillo No. 56 and Pumpelly in the No. 17 Porsche Cayman for Rennsport One were close behind. Three laps after the restart, Foss was able to get past for the lead. Pumpelly tried to follow by, but was unable to do so.
Foss recovered from his spin to take third in the No. 56 Porsche Cayman he shared with Mosing. The No. 73 MINI for Mat Pombo and Derek Jones that won at Daytona finished fourth while Bloum and teammate Aurora Straus ended up fifth.
Race No. 3 for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will be May 6 at Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Tex.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.