Race Weekend Central

Jason Bell, Michael Cooper Win COTA Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Race No. 2

Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Jason Bell and Michael Cooper used an alternative pit strategy Sunday (May 21) to get themselves into the overall lead. When the caution came out that ended the race, Bell and Cooper were in position to win Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Race No. 2 at Circuit of the Americas.

“The Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin has been excellent all weekend. I thought we’d have a chance for the Pro-Am win, but to win it overall means a lot,” Cooper told SRO America’s Amanda Busick after the race. “Awesome to come back to [Pirelli] GT4 America and perform so well.”

Hanley Motorsports’ Daniel Hanley and Parker Thompson finished second, followed by AutoTechnic Racing’s John Capestro-Dubets and Zac Anderson, Saturday’s overall winners. BimmerWorld Racing’s Tyler McQuarrie and James Walker Jr. were fourth, while NOLAsport’s Jason Hart and Matt Travis were fifth in their Porsche.

Bell and Cooper won the Pro-Am class in addition to the overall win. McQuarrie and Walker were second, followed by Hart and Travis. ACI Motorsports’ Curt Swearingin and Kay van Berlo were fourth, while SMOOGE Racing’s Kevin Conway and John Geesbreght were fifth.

Black Swan Racing’s Jeroen Bleekemolen started from the overall pole in his McLaren Artura GT4, but lost the advantage in the first corner to Thompson, the Silver class pole sitter, in his Toyota GR Supra GT4. Cooper followed into second.

Once the tires got up to temperature, Bleekemolen was able to get back past Cooper and ran Thompson back down for the lead. Fourteen minutes into the race, Bleekemolen made the move in turn 1 and got the overall lead back.

The mid-race pit window always throws up a wildcard and Sunday was no exception. TechSport Racing’s Eric Powell stalled his Nissan Z GT4 in between turns 7 and 8. That triggered a land rush as teams didn’t want to get caught out by a safety car period.

Cooper chose to stay out as long as possible, along with McQuarrie and Van Berlo. For a moment, it seemed like they were going to be fine. Then, Rooster Hall Racing’s Johan Schwartz also stalled in the Esses.

Cooper was able to get into the pits right before the yellow flew to switch to Bell, then managed to beat Bleekmolen’s teammate Tim Pappas out to retain the lead before the yellow flew.

The green came back out with 19 minutes to go, but it wasn’t long before trouble broke out. STR38 Motorsports’ Jon Miller, who restarted 11th, appeared to suffer some kind of mechanical failure. He was unable to slow down his BMW M4 GT4 and slammed into Pappas and Random Vandals Racing’s Kevin Boehm at turn 1. JMF Motorsports/Conquest Racing’s Jesse Webb was also involved.

Boehm, Miller and Pappas were all able to get out of their cars under their own power. They were also out of the race on the spot and the safety car was back out. Webb was able to continue, but ended up at the back of the field. He and Michai Stephens would eventually finish 33rd overall, fifth in the Silver class.

Unfortunately, all three cars required rollback tow trucks in order to be removed from the track. The safety crews were unable to get all three removed from the racing surface in time for the race to resume.

In the Silver class, Thompson led for the entire first half of the race before pitting and handing over to Hanley at the same time Bleekemolen handed over to Pappas. Hanley ended up restarting third overall and just managed to avoid the chaos at turn 1.

That was all Hanley and Thompson needed in order to take their first Silver-class win in second overall. Anderson and Capestro-Dubets were second, then Copeland Motorsports’ Tyler Gonzalez and Tyler Maxson. OGH/Valkyrie Velocity’s Dominic Starkweather and Chris Walsh were fourth.

STR38 Motorsports’ Chris Allen, fresh off of a class victory on Saturday, led the Am class to green in 17th overall. However, the veteran racer Terry Borcheller had the fastest car in class early on.

Borcheller, 57, managed to snag the class lead from Allen, then put a number of other cars from other classes between himself and BimmerWorld Racing’s James Clay.

A relatively slow pit stop for Carras Callus Raceteam allowed Clay’s teammate Charlie Postins to jump over Nick Shanny and take the Am lead. The chaos boosted Postins up to ninth overall as he took the class victory.

Allen and Robert Mau ended up finishing second, followed by TR3 Racing’s Jon Branam and Paul Kiebler. Van der Steur Racing’s Brady Behrman and Coby Shield were fourth in their Aston Martin, while Borcheller and Shanny had to settle for fifth.

PIRELLI GT4 AMERICA SPRINTX: COTA RACE NO. 2 RESULTS

GT4 America teams will be off for the next few weeks before returning to action at VIRginia International Raceway. Race No. 1 from VIR is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on June 17 and 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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