Blackdog Speed Shop’s Michael Cooper earned a weekend sweep in Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Sunday morning (Sep. 22). The race was cut short after 27 of the scheduled 50 minutes due to heavy rains. Since the race was declared complete at less than 75 percent distance, half-points were awarded.
“Definitely a strange race,” Cooper said afterwards. “Conditions were fine to start the race, but it was definitely starting to rain [more] heavily. We were starting to get some puddling down the backstraight in really high speed areas going into [Canada Corner]. I think [the officials] made the right call going yellow, but once we did that, it just started getting worse.”
Due to those rains, SRO America officials made the decision to start the race behind the safety car. That said, you can’t do whatever you want while at reduced pace. You must maintain a cautious pace. The Racers Group’s Spencer Pumpelly could not do that. During the pace lap, he briefly slowed down in order to reset the electronics on his Porsche Cayman GT4 MR. That dropped him from second to fifth for the green flag on lap 2.
Once the green flag came out, Cooper was able to open up a nice gap over Robinson Racing teammates Shane Lewis and Gar Robinson. Meanwhile, Pumpelly was on the move. He showed that he had the best car in the very slippery conditions. In just over a lap under green, he moved back up to second and was running down Cooper for the lead by lap 3.
However, the conditions were just too wild. At the beginning of lap 5, SRO America officials put out the safety car due to standing water on the course. After three laps around the 4.048-mile road course behind the safety car, the cars were brought to pit road and put under the red flag.
After a brief stoppage to wait for conditions to improve, the red flag was displayed, ending the race.
Pumpelly ended up finishing second, followed by Lewis and Robinson in what will be the final race for Robinson Racing. Andrew Davis finished fifth in his Audi.
In the Am class, Ian Lacy Racing’s Drew Staveley started sixth and held onto that position for the whole race until right before the caution flew. Right before it was displayed, Staveley spun in Canada Corner after getting tapped by Jarret Andretti. Andretti was judged by SRO America officials as being responsible for the incident. As a result, he was assessed a post-race drive-through penalty that relegated him to 17th overall.
As a result of the contact, Staveley spun into a gravel trap. Thanks to all the rain that had fallen overnight and on Sunday morning, he was able to work his way out of the trap and continue. However, Park Place Motorsports’ Alan Brynjolfsson was able to get past before Staveley could get out. That move gave Brynjolfsson the victory in seventh overall. Staveley ended up second, followed by Marko Radisic, Michael Dinan and Tony Gaples.
The Pirelli GT4 America Sprint season will conclude with two races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 19 and 20. Cooper currently leads the Pro standings by 7.5 points over Pumpelly and 8.5 over Team Panoz Racing’s Ian James. Staveley clinched the Am title by winning Race No. 1 on Saturday.