It was another thrilling battle in Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA competition as the series staged Race 4 at The Thermal Club on Sunday afternoon and the 23-car field put on quite the show around the 3.1-mile road course nestled among the San Jacinto mountains.
It was a big comeback for TruSpeed Autosport driver Jason Godfrey who didn’t have the finish he wanted in Saturday’s Race 3 when he had an off early in the race that left him at the rear of the field. Starting from third on the grid on Sunday, Godfrey took over the second position on the first lap and quickly began tracking down leader Robert Todd. The Diamond class leaders went head to head for the top honors through the first half of the race, with Godfrey in the BR Racing driver’s mirrors.
“It was great to come back from a tough day yesterday, when I got into the dirt on the backstretch while defending,” said Godfrey. “So as not to have a collision and take everyone out, I had to let the whole field go by before I could get back on track. In today’s race, I decided I’d follow Robb (Todd) for as long as I could and see if we could gap the field, while studying him to see if I had an advantage anywhere. Going into the chicane, I gave him a little gap, floored it coming out of the corner and got a run on him going into Turn 1. Once I got in front of him, I had a little pace on him and slowly pulled away. It’s always awesome to race with Robb, he races so clean. We have a lot of fun racing each other.”
It was ultimately Godfrey who would take the top spot when he finally got by Todd on Lap 14 for the race lead.
“Jay (Godfrey) and I raced clean and hard for a really long time,” said BR Racing’s Robert Todd. “I led more than half the race, but he got a good run out of the last corner onto the front straight. I tried to protect the line but he dove inside of me. I tried to give him as much room as possible; he was definitely on the brakes a lot later than I was because he carried all the way through the corner to the outside line. I didn’t have anywhere to go but it was a great pass. I tried to stay behind him, keep up and get back by him in traffic. Traffic played a role today; I had an incident with a slower car, locking up all four wheels to avoid hitting him. After that, I didn’t have anything for Jason. He had a great car and I always love racing him, he’s one of my best competitors. But it was a great points day for us. The BR Racing team worked really hard all weekend and we had great support from Snap-On and Racetech seats.”
Platinum driver Tom Haacker won his second race of the weekend at The Thermal Club when he came back from contact in the first turn that dropped him to 10th in the order. He masterfully maneuvered his way back up the field and behind the Platinum class leader John Krieg. Though Krieg didn’t make it easy, Haacker got by in the final laps to take the victory.
“I don’t know what happened behind me at the start but there were a lot of people that went wide, so I went completely off course and come back on in tenth,” said Haacker of the first corner incident. “Once we got back underway I just tried to avoid contact and had to fight my way back in. John (Krieg, race leader) didn’t want me to go by him! I got a good run on him coming onto the front straight and got him. We had some clutch issues, but the TruSpeed guys did a great job with the car.”
In the Platinum Masters category it once again came down to Jim Slavik in the No. 89 Grainger Porsche and Larry Schnur in his FuelSafe Porsche. The two had a fierce battle on Saturday in Race 3 in which Schnur took the victory. On Sunday though, it was Slavik who emerged on top as the two battled early on, with Slavik eventually putting a gap over the second place car as he paced the Platinum Masters field.
“There was a little gap between Larry (Schnur) and me today so I didn’t have him in my mirrors!” said an enthused Slavik following the race. “The Grainger car ran tremendously and the TruSpeed team did a great job. The whole race was about hitting my marks and not making mistakes. Yesterday I had a couple of really big mistakes that opened the door but not today. This is my home track and even the people who aren’t with the series here know me, so to get three first place finishes for the TruSpeed Autosport today is great.”
BR Racing’s Kevin Woods qualified on the pole in the Silver class with Race 3 winner Sean McAlister completing the front row. On the final lap, the racing came down to the wire as both Woods and McAlister vied for the race win. But in the close quarter racing, the two came together which resulted in both Porsches spinning off track and the third place No. 42 Porsche of Christopher Weir taking the surprise race win.
The result marked Weir’s first-ever podium and first-ever victory.
“I was shocked!” exclaimed Weir after receiving his winner’s trophy. “I was running third throughout the race and was just focusing on hitting my marks. I got lucky today, but I’ll take it! This is one of my favorite tracks. I just focused on my endurance and hitting the apexes and hopefully taking advantage of others’ mistakes and today that worked out in my favor.”
It was once again Steve Goldman who led the way in the Silver Masters division as he put on a similar performance to Race 3 in which he led flag-to-flag in both events.
“It was a very interesting race,” said Goldman. “I ran my pace, which was a bit slower than (Silver drivers) Sean (McAlister) and Kevin (Woods), but faster than the rest of the guys in my class. So all in all it was a great weekend!”
The Pirelli Cup GT3 Cup Trophy USA will next be in action for Round 3 on May 13-15 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
Source. Sunday Group