St Pete PWC: Aquilante beats Aschenbach in GTS opener

Andrew Aquilante won the opening round of the Pirelli World Challenge’s GTS class on the streets of St Petersburg in his Ford Mustang Boss 302.

St Pete PWC: Aquilante beats Aschenbach in GTS opener
#11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4: Tony Gaples
#3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4: Rodrigo Baptista
#9 ANSA Motorsports KTM Xbow GT4: Bill Ziegler
Car of #11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R: Tony Gaples

The race ‘started’ under yellow flags to allow drivers to recon the new-look Turn 3 following issues with the track surface.

At the single-file restart on lap four, poleman Aschenbach’s all-new Chevrolet Camaro GT4 led Parker Chase’s Ginetta, as Aquilante’s bid for second around the outside of Turn 1 failed to come off.

The KTMs of Martin Barkey and Frankie Montecalvo were the big losers as the race began, dropping outside of the top eight from top-six starting spots.

Aquilante passed Chase for second at Turn 1 on lap six, and quickly latched on to the back of leader Aschenbach. Two laps later, Aquilante outbraked Aschenbach at Turn 4 to hit the front.

Chase dropped from third to fifth on lap 12 when his Ginetta’s engine cut-out on the exit of the final corner. That promoted Buford to third, ahead of Rodrigo Baptista’s Porsche Caymen. A few laps later, Chase tumbled out of the picture completely when he ran straight on at Turn 4 when his engine cut-out again.

Out front, the leaders all closed up while lapping traffic at half distance. But another gaggle of slower cars allowed Aquilante to gain a big advantage over Aschenbach, while Buford almost pounced for second at Turn 1.

The final laps were a shootout between the two American muscle cars, with Aschenbach squeezing every ounce from his Pirellis but it wasn’t enough for Chevy to overcome Ford – and Aquilante not only scored victory but also set fastest lap for pole position in race two on Saturday.

Baptista was a very distant fourth, ahead of Barkey and Nate Stacy’s Porsche.

Ian James ran sixth in the new Panoz Avezzano early on, until a cloud of smoke signalled its demise with transmission issues.

GTS race results 

Cla DriversCarLapTimeGapInterval
1   united_states  Andrew Aquilante  Ford Mustang Boss 302 36 51'24.163    
2   united_states  Lawson Aschenbach Chevrolet Camaro GT4 36 51'26.713 2.550 2.550
3   united_states  Jade Buford  SIN R1 GT4 36 51'27.842 3.679 1.129
4   brazil  Rodrigo Baptista  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 36 52'04.867 40.704 37.025
5   canada  Martin Barkey  KTM XBow GT4 36 52'13.386 49.223 8.519
6   united_states  Nathan Stacy  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 36 52'16.023 51.860 2.637
7   united_states  Tony Gaples  Chevrolet Camaro GT4 36 52'18.021 53.858 1.998
8   united_states  Jason Bell  SIN R1 GT4 36 52'18.674 54.511 0.653
9   united_states  Frankie Montecalvo  KTM XBow GT4 36 52'19.630 55.467 0.956
10   canada  Anthony Mantella  KTM XBow GT4 36 52'38.258 1'14.095 18.628
11   united_states  Mark Klenin  McLaren 570S GT4 36 52'42.647 1'18.484 4.389
12   united_states  George Kurtz  McLaren 570S GT4 35 51'35.687 1 Lap 1 Lap
13   united_states  Adam Merzon  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 35 52'07.455 1 Lap 31.768
14   united_states  Cameron Maugeri  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 35 52'08.015 1 Lap 0.560
15   united_states  Bill Ziegler  KTM XBow GT4 34 52'12.455 2 Laps 1 Lap
16   canada  Cameron Cassels  Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR 32 51'35.151 4 Laps 2 Laps
17   united_states  Parker Chase  Ginetta G55 32 51'50.873 4 Laps 15.722
18   united_states  Harry Gottsacker  Ginetta G55 24 35'17.057 12 Laps 8 Laps
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