Saturday’s GTS Round 15 at Circuit of the Americas for Pirelli World Challenge originally had a feel-good story in Victory Lane. Scott Dollahite, who has spent 2017 driving the pace car at Pirelli World Challenge events, charged up from sixth on the grid to take a sweet victory in his hometown race.
However, Dollahite’s Lotus Evora flunked post-race technical inspection. As a result, World Challenge officials were forced to disqualify Dollahite. Ian James, who originally finished second after starting on the pole, inherits his fifth victory of the season.
For Dollahite, he has been stripped of his points, money and lap times from the race as a result of the DQ. He will be eligible to start Round 16 on Sunday, but he’ll have to do it from the rear of the field.
Regardless of the result, James had a lot of fun out there Saturday afternoon.
“This is good racing – 50 minute, flat-out, no cautions – that’s how we like our racing,” James said after the race. “This place is a bit more forgiving and you can definitely get to the limit and if you step slightly over it, it costs you lap time but it doesn’t end up with you in the wall – typically. I’m very fortunate to have the team. We’ve been able to take something that was a pile of tubes back in February and put it together and turn it into a racy new car.”
James started from the pole in his Panoz Avezzano GT, but ANSA Motorsports’ Dakota Dickerson, making his series debut, was right on him early. Dickerson was actually able to get past James to take the lead on the first lap in his KTM X-Bow GT4 and open up a gap on the field.
It took well into the second half of the race for the leaders to run down Dickerson, but it wasn’t James who did it. It was Dollahite, who had moved up the order in his Evora from sixth. With 20 minutes to go, Dollahite was able to get past Dickerson to take the overall lead. From there, Dollahite was able to maintain his gap and take the checkered flag first.
The drivers on the move in the race were the aforementioned Dollahite, but also Performance Management Group’s Parker Chase. A technical infraction put both Chase and teammate Harry Gottsacker to the rear of the field for the start. From there, Chase was on the move, charging through the GTSA field relatively quickly and scything through the lower reaches of the regular GTS field.
Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Rodrigo Baptista was the only driver that could give Chase a proper battle. The two youngsters battled for multiple laps before Chase was able to get by for third.
With Dollahite’s DQ, Chase is now credited with a second-place finish. Baptista was third, followed by Gottsacker. Points leader Lawson Aschenbach was fifth.
In his own charge from the rear of the field, Gottsacker turned in the fastest lap of the race (139.981 mph, 88.23 mph). That will allow the New Braunfels, Tex. native to start from the pole on Sunday.
In GTSA, the race was dominated by Dickerson. In his series debut, Dickerson took the overall lead on the first lap from James and held on to the advantage for over half of the race. Eventually, Dollahite was able to snatch the overall lead away, but Dickerson had a dominant 20 second lead.
Unfortunately, the race fell apart for the 20-year old late when the car died with just a couple of laps to go. GMG Racing’s George Kurtz was the recipient of good luck as he slipped past the stricken Dickenson to take the lead. From there, Kurtz held on to take his seventh win of the year.
Kurtz’s margin of victory was a huge 31.865 seconds over Blackdog Speed Shop’s Tony Gaples. GMG Racing’s Carter Yeung was third, followed by Frank Gannett and Mark Klenin. Dickerson can take solace in the fact that he turned in the fastest lap in the GTSA class during the race. As a result, he’ll start on the subclass pole.
GTS Race No. 2 at Circuit of the Americas is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday morning. The race will be streamed live at World-Challenge.com.