Wright Motorsports’ Jan Heylen and Madison Snow led nearly flag-to-flag from the overall pole Saturday (Sept. 23) to win Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Race No. 1 at Sebring International Raceway. It is Snow and Heylen’s first win of the season.
Heylen and Snow won by 6.512 seconds over BimmerWorld Racing’s Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull. MDK Motorsports’ Trenton Estep and Seth Lucas were third, then Rennsport One’s Stevan McAleer and Eric Filguerias were fourth on the road. A penalty dropped them to fifth and elevated Racers Edge Motorsports’ Mario Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison to fourth.
Wright Motorsports’ Madison Snow led the field to green and beat BimmerWorld Racing’s Chandler Hull to turn 1. Meanwhile, a collision further back in the field resulted in both RealTime Racing’s Anthony Bartone and DXDT Racing’s Jeff Burton spinning out. Triarsi Competizione’s Justin Wetherill was forced to stop to avoid Burton. All three drivers were able to continue, but were significantly delayed.
Snow was quickly able to pull out a two-second lead over Hull before things stabilized. Towards the end of the run, Snow began to extend the advantage again.
After the mid-race stops, Auberlen was able to cut the lead over Heylen to less than two seconds. However, after the first half of the run, Heylen was able to increase the lead once again.
Behind the lead duo, McAleer and Farnbacher battled hard for third. With four minutes to go, Farnbacher was able to take the spot away.
Shortly afterwards, McAleer got a little loose on the curbs and ended up hitting Farnbacher in turn 16. Farnbacher spun into the runoff, while McAleer continued.
In the confusion and dust that resulted from the incident, Estep was able to take third away. Meanwhile, Heylen was able to comfortably take the win.
In Pro-Am, Crowdstrike Racing with Riley Motorsports’ George Kurtz started from the pole and led early. Samantha Tan Racing’s Samantha Tan was supposed to start right behind him, but she lost her qualifying time due to a manifold pressure violation in post-qualifying inspection. As a result, Bartone started second in Pro-Am.
Bartone and Burton coming together and spinning in the first corner gave second in class to Wright Motorsports’ Adam Adelson. Meanwhile, Tan was given a drive-through penalty for moving out of the starting lineup columns prior to the start-finish line.
Kurtz was able to hold onto a small advantage over Adelson for the entire first half of the race. Then, disaster struck in the pits.
Kurtz chose to stay out longer than anyone else before pitting to put Colin Braun in the car. The crew had serious trouble getting the right rear wheel off of the Mercedes. That easily allowed the No. 120 Porsche of Elliott Skeer to take the lead.
The issue dropped the Crowdstrike Mercedes from leading the class by two seconds to more than 10 seconds behind. Meanwhile, Neil Verhagen in the Samantha Tan Racing BMW was the fastest driver on track despite being 10 seconds behind.
Over the next 35 minutes, Verhagen ran down Braun. A back-and-forth battle erupted that lasted multiple laps. In the closing minutes, Verhagen was able to muscle his way past to take second.
Meanwhile, Skeer, driving the previous generation Porsche 911 GT3 R, had a decent advantage and held on to take the class win in fifth overall. It is Adelson and Skeer’s fifth Pro-Am win of the year.
Adelson and Skeer’s margin of victory was 6.491 seconds over Tan and Verhagen. Braun and Kurtz were third, then The Racer’s Group’s Derek DeBoer and Ross Gunn. DXDT Racing’s Bryan Sellers and Scott Smithson were fifth.
Race No. 2 from Sebring is scheduled to go green at 1:45 p.m. ET. Coverage from Sebring will be streamed live on the GT World YouTube channel starting at 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
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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