The season opener for Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Saturday (April 1) at Sonoma Raceway ultimately looked like a Pirelli GT4 America SprintX race from last year. Rennsport One’s Eric Filguerias and Stevan McAleer led flag-to-flag to take their first victory in the series.
Filguerias and McAleer’s overall margin of victory was 1.538 seconds over the Pro-Am entry of Wright Motorsports’ Adam Adelson and Elliott Skeer. Crowdstrike Racing with Riley Motorsports’ Colin Braun and George Kurtz were third, then ACI Motorsports’ Porsche for Spencer Pumpelly and Pedro Torres. BimmerWorld Racing’s Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull were fifth.
In the Pro class, Filguerias and McAleer won by 14.538 seconds over Auberlen and Hull. Racers Edge Motorsports’ Mario Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison charged from 14th on the grid to finish sixth overall, third in class.
“It’s incredible. Our first GT3 race together as a team and our first win,” Filguerias told SRO America’s Amanda Busick. “RS1 has done an incredible job. Stevan [McAleer] has been fantastic.”
Filguerias started from the overall pole in his 992-based Porsche 911 GT3 R and quickly pulled off to a decent advantage. BimmerWorld Racing’s Chandler Hull was able to move into second overall on the second lap.
DXDT Racing had a terrible opening to the race. Scott Smithson spun in turn 3a on the first lap and nearly got stuck in the grass. Teammate Jeff Burton then spun in turn 2 on lap 3 and hit the tires to bring out the race’s only safety car period. Burton was ok, but his Mercedes was done for the day, continuing a tough season for the Utah racer.
Once the green came back out, Filguerias ran off and hid, putting five seconds between himself and Hull. By the mid-race stops, he was eight seconds ahead.
Once McAleer got in the car, he ran well, but Bill Auberlen was able to slowly reel him in.
In Pro-Am, Wright Motorsports’ started on pole in his 991-based Porsche 911 GT3 R, second overall. Adelson was able to hold on to the class lead before the first yellow.
Just before the yellow, GMG Racing’s James Sofronas was given a drive-through penalty for improper tire mounting. A spin for Wright Motorsports’ Charlie Luck also dropped some contenders down the order.
That left Crowdstrike Racing with Riley Motorsports’ George Kurtz to take the fight to Adelson. Kurtz was able to hang out with Adelson for a while, but eventually dropped back by nearly eight seconds.
During the mid-race stops where Elliott Skeer took over for Adelson, the team jumped the BimmerWorld BMW to get back into second overall. Colin Braun took over for Kurtz and quickly made up the eight-second deficit.
Eventually, Braun got past Auberlen for third overall, then set out to get Skeer. Skeer was catching McAleer for the overall lead, but Braun was catching both of them. Unfortunately for Braun, he ran out of time as Adelson and Skeer held on to claim their maiden Pro-Am wins.
Race No. 2 is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. ET Sunday afternoon. The race will be streamed on the GT World YouTube channel.
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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