PWC: Road America double features GT Sprint return, GTS and TC

Photo: PWC
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Pirelli World Challenge has a lot of options for classes and race formats in 2017 and it’s the Sprint version for its premier GT class that is the headline this weekend at Road America.

It’s been since Long Beach on April 9, when a car hit a fire hydrant and flooded the street course, that PWC’s “legacy” 50-minute format of one driver, one car and an all-out sprint has taken place. Three SprintX weekends at VIR, Lime Rock and CTMP have followed, and seen five different winners in as many races.

Memories might be fuzzy, then, of what happened before in the Sprint races but there’s now both the GT and overall championships at play. Alvaro Parente has won Rounds 1 and 3 at St. Petersburg and Long Beach, while Patrick Long won Round 2 at St. Petersburg.

This leaves the K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 driver one point clear of the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driver, 70-69, heading into this weekend’s doubleheader.

With third-placed Sprint driver Alex Riberas in his No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 not expected to attend, it leaves an opening for the rest of the drivers behind him to move forward.

The overall GT championship, including the three SprintX weekends, has the top four drivers separated by 29 points. Michael Cooper in his No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R leads that title overall with 145 points, with Long and Parente at 135, and Ryan Dalziel (No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) at 118.

It’s a home race for RealTime Racing with its new Acura NSX GT3s; Ryan Eversley and Peter Kox will look to bring home the bacon for Peter Cunningham’s team in its backyard. Eversley enjoyed a dream weekend here last year with a weekend sweep.

Beyond the 15 GT cars, there’s 11 GTA and 3 GT Cup entries making for a 29-car field for those two races, set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:55 a.m. Sunday.

The GTS season hasn’t really established a rhythm with Andrew Aquilante (St. Petersburg, Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302), Nico Jamin (VIR, ANSA Motorsports KTM X-BOW GT4), Jade Buford (CTMP, Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4) and Rodrigo Baptista (Lime Rock, Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 MR) having swept the first four weekends. But only Baptista is active this weekend as the other three are part-timers.

Consistency and a bevy of podiums have kept Lawson Aschenbach at the top of the GTS standings with 173 points in his No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, as he looks for both his and the new car’s first victory of 2017. Aschenbach holds a 46-point lead over Martin Barkey of Mantella Autosport, driver of the No. 80 KTM.

There are 10 Touring Cars added to the field this weekend as the trio of TC classes did not continue on the schedule this weekend. Still, selected TC cars are running here in a non-points event to add to the GTS grid. Classic BMW driver Gino Carini of Milwaukee adds local flare, and is one of eight BMW M235iR cars in the 10-car TC field.

The breakdown of cars is 9 GTS, 14 GTSA and 10 TC cars for these two races, for a total of 33 cars. These two races are set for 5:45 p.m. Saturday and 2:45 p.m. Sunday.

The entry list is linked here.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.