Crowdstrike, Bimmer World take GT World Challenge victories at NOLA
A dramatic ending to race two at NOLA Motorsports Park for the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS had heads on a swivel. While race one was a story of preservation due to weather, race two was a story of attrition.
The PRO-AM Class led the field and kept the PRO Class behind it for much of the race as leaders stayed nearly bumper to bumper through the 90-minute run. Meanwhile, in the PRO Class, it looked like a repeat win for Steven McAleer and Eric Filgueiras until the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 911 GT3 R came in contact with Ashton Harrison and the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3. From there it seemed the fields all were steady but with five minutes remaining four cars experienced drama that took them out of podium contention.
The PRO Class had a steady start. Pole sitter McAleer and the No. 28 held onto the position for a majority of the opening stint. As the pit window neared, McAleer relinquished the position to the hands of Mario Farnbacher in the No. 93. The two stayed close in position with Trenton Estep in the No. 53 MDK Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R a few paces behind fighting off Alessandro Balzan in the No. 21 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 and Bill Auberlen in the No. 94 Bimmer World BMW M4 GT3.
After the pit window closed. The Filgueiras RS1 Porsche took over the lead but appeared to make contact with Harrison in the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura. Harrison spun and was relegated to the rear of the field to continue her race.
Filgueiras remained in the lead with Chandler Hull and the No. 94 BMW on his bumper after the incident. The restart came after Manny Franco in the No. 21 Ferrari 296 spun on his own ending his fight for a podium. Franco was stuck in the gravel but continued on after safety assisted him out. On the final restart, Hull pushed past Filgueiras for his first win of the season. Filgueiras finished second, fending off a stable and steady Seth Lucas in the No. 53 MDK Motorsports Porsche.
The PRO-AM field had the attention of the stands from the start. Valentin Hasse Clot in the No. 007 TRG Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 started from the pole and led for the duration of the race but that didn’t stop John Edwards in the No. 38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT3 from pushing him around. Edwards went side by side through a few corners but was never able to make a pass as Colin Braun and the No. 04 CrowdStrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3 put the pressure on Edwards. Braun was ready to pounce at any falter by Edwards.
Hasse Clot was brought in early in the pit window due to being light on fuel. Edwards pitted shortly after but Braun stayed out until a meager 10s remaining in the pit window. The strategy put Braun out front and gave the No. 04 Mercedes enough of a lead that George Kurtz inherited. Kurtz held the lead through to the checkered flag. Behind him, Samantha Tan was taking every curb on two wheels as she tried everything in her power to gain ground on Kurtz. However, a late run through a turn brought her No. 38 BMW to halt on track, the car reignited but the unknown issue took her out of podium contention.
Derek Deboer proved that there is something to experience. He inherited the second position after Tan fell back. DeBoer in the No. 007 Aston Martin Vantage AMR fought hard to keep in podium contention after falling back in the field from the early pit stop. Third place went to Charlie Luck and Jan Heylen in the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Luck made contact with Ziad Ghandour in the No. 9 TR3 Racing, who seemed to have begun to spin on his own before Luck finished the turnaround for the No. 9. Unphased, Luck moved forward proclaiming the podium position.
“Exciting race after a rough day yesterday,” Kurtz said. “We had a great drive. For a while, it was like, how many restarts can we do? I hope it made it exciting for the fans. We wanted to be back on top and here we are.”
The SRO Motorsports America return to the track again in three weeks at the home of SRO America — Circuit of The Americas in Austin, TX for rounds five and six of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS.