After a relatively dry Saturday (Sept. 21) at Road America, the rains came in time for the first Pirelli GT4 America SprintX and GT4 East race of the weekend. Murillo Racing’s Matthew Fassnacht and Christian Szymczak were able to keep themselves out of trouble and pull away late to claim their third overall victory of the year despite declaring for the GT4 East Am class. In class, it is their fourth victory of the season.
The rains began to pick up at a time in which everyone was forced to make a decision on which tire to start on. SRO America officials declared the race to be wet, but that simply means it’s a free choice for teams in regards to tire selection.
Pole sitter Kris Wilson in the AutoTechnic Racing BMW M4 GT4 chose to start on dry tires. Ultimately, it was a bad decision that didn’t hurt him. Meanwhile, Greg Palmer lost control exiting turn 3 and went across the nose of NOLAsport’s Matt Travis before hitting Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Michael Dinan. Both Palmer and Dinan slid through the wet grass and into the wall. Palmer was able to drive back to the pits before retiring, while Dinan’s car hit the tires and nearly rolled.
The crash drew a full course caution that quickly became a red flag to allow everyone to change to wet tires and maintain their position. The move also stopped the clock less than three minutes into the 60-minute race.
Just because everyone was now on rain tires doesn’t mean the crashing was complete. On the restart, Andretti Autosport’s David Donohue (making his first start in a major sports car series since 2013) and Park Place Motorsports’ Alan Brynjolfsson collided in turn 4 and slid off into the wall to bring out another yellow. Neither driver was injured, but they weren’t pleased with each other.
The cautions led to the mid-race pit window being adjusted. The window opened shortly after the restart at the end of lap 8. By this time, the rain had started to let up. Wilson chose to stay out as long as he could before pitting his BMW out of the lead and handing over to John Allen.
Allen came out of the pits on lap 11 with the overall lead over Szymczak. He then immediately spun the tires exiting turn 3 and slid off course, hitting the tire barrier nose-first. That was all Szymczak needed to take the overall lead. Allen was able to continue and eventually finished 12th overall.
From there, Szymczak had to deal with the similar Mercedes of RENNtech Motorsports’ Guy Cosmo. Cosmo made a couple of moves for the lead on Szymczak in turn 5, but was unable to get past. Eventually, Szymczak was able to pull away and take the win.
The margin of victory was 4.963 seconds over Cosmo and Patrick Byrne, who won the GT4 East Pro-Am class. Stephen Cameron Racing’s Greg Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan were third in their BMW, good enough to win the SprintX Pro-Am class. GMG Racing’s Jason Bell and Alec Udell were fourth, while Classic BMW’s Stevan McAleer and Justin Raphael were fifth. Team Panoz Racing’s Dr. Preston Calvert and Matthew Keegan finished 10th, good enough for the SprintX Am class win.
Race No. 2 for Pirelli GT4 America SprintX and GT4 East is scheduled to go green at 1:10 p.m. ET. It will be streamed live at GT4-America.com. It is the final GT4 East race of the season.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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