Alegra Motorsports’ Michael Christensen was able to get past Race No. 1 winner Àlvaro Parente in Turn 6 on the very first lap of the race Sunday. From there, Christensen was able to open up a gap and maintain that advantage to win Race No. 2 of the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Road America.
By virtue of the fastest lap on Saturday, Parente started from the pole in his Bentley. At the start, Parente was strong, while Christensen was able to dispatch of Scott Hargrove‘s Porsche. Coming to Turn 5, Christensen attempted to make a move for the lead. He couldn’t get it done there, but stayed side-by-side with Parente up the hill and cleared him at the bridge. Behind the leaders, Hargrove was pushed off-track by Daniel Mancinelli and clogged up the grille on his Porsche. Luckily, the No. 96 Porsche did not overheat.
Once in the lead, Christensen quickly opened up his advantage over the field to a comfortable margin. It did not appear that he would be threatened. Then, the race’s one and only full course caution came out on lap 9 when Jason Bell spun and hit the wall after contact with Alan Brynjolfsson.
The wall gave a little, resulting in the left side of the No. 2 Audi R8 LMS GT4 being ripped apart. Bell walked away uninjured, but was clearly unhappy. Bell displayed his displeasure to Brynjolfsson by extending his middle finger to the Icelandic driver. That copped him a $500 fine. Brynjolfsson was given the black flag and parked for his role. He has officially been placed on probation for the next two races.
Once the green came back out, Christensen pulled a couple of seconds away from Parente, then held steady. In the last couple of laps, lapped traffic threatened to derail Christensen’s charge, but he held on for the win.
Christensen’s margin of victory was 2.21 seconds over Parente. Mancinelli was third, followed by Hargrove and Toni Vilander.
In GTA, the race was once again a battle between Squadra Corse Garage Italia’s Martin Fuentes and TruSpeed AutoSport’s Parker Chase. Fuentes led from the pole early, but Chase stayed right there. On lap 7, Chase made the move and actually took the lead in turn 5. However, Fuentes snatched it back a couple of turns later.
Ultimately, the lapped traffic helped to decide the race. Fuentes led right up until the final turn. Chase was able to get a better run exiting the turn and up the hill. In a drag race, Chase just nipped Fuentes at the line for the class victory.
The margin of victory was a mere eight-thousandths of a second for the 17-year old over Fuentes. Dream Racing Motorsport’s Yuki Harata was third despite spinning out early on in an incident that ultimately put Wright Motorsports’ Anthony Imperato out of the race. David Askew and Andy Wilzoch were fourth and fifth.
GTS was a battle royale for much of the race. Team Panoz Racing’s Ian James started from the pole and jumped right into an assault. First, Blackdog Speed Shop’s Lawson Aschenbach took his shot at James. Then, it was Racers Edge Motorsports’ Harry Gottsacker. The class lead changed three times on the second lap of the race. The first lap ended up being the high point of Aschenbach’s day as issues with the left rear of the No. 1 Camaro GT4.R cropping up from Saturday put him out.
Eventually, Gottsacker was able to get the lead and head the line on-course. James was far from done, though. After dropping as far back as fifth, the veteran racer drove back to the front and retook the class lead.
In the closing laps, Gottsacker put the pressure on James’ Panoz Avezzano GT4. Gottsacker tried his best, but could not make the move on James, who held on for the weekend sweep.
GMG Racing’s James Sofronas was able to get past Gottsacker on the final lap to finish second, while Gottsacker settled for third. PF Racing’s Jade Buford was fourth, while Robinson Racing’s Gar Robinson was a distant fifth.
In GTSA, Jeff Courtney led from the pole early, but had a pack of drivers right on his tail. Bell and Brynjolfsson were two of those drivers, but the aforementioned crash took both of them out.
On the final lap of the race, Klenin made an overly aggressive move at turn 7 on Clay for the lead. Contact was made that put Clay off the road.
Clay was able to keep his BMW M4 GT4 out of the wall, but then spun out. He would cross the line in seventh.
Klenin ended up 1.565 seconds in front of Courtney at the finish. However, Klenin was issued a post-race 70-second penalty for the contact. The penalty is the equivalent of a stop and 20-second hold penalty. That penalty dropped Klenin from the class win and 17th overall to seventh in class and 23rd overall.
Courtney inherited the class victory as a result of the penalty. Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Mike Hedlund was just over a half-second back in second, followed by Ian Lacy Racing’s Drew Staveley and Dr. Preston Calvert. George Kurtz was fifth.
Pirelli World Challenge teams take the next couple of weeks off. Portland International Raceway is the next venue on the schedule for the fourth SprintX weekend of the season on July 13-15.