Samantha Tan Racing’s Neil Verhagen and Samantha Tan drove up from the rear of the field Sunday (Sept. 24), took the lead during the mid-race stops and held on to win Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Race No. 2 at Sebring International Raceway on the track.
However, the No. 38 BMW flunked post-race inspection. As a result, the team was moved to the rear of the Pro-Am class in 13th overall.
Heylen and Snow’s margin of victory was 11.911 seconds over BimmerWorld Racing’s Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull. Adam Adelson and Elliott Skeer were thirdin the second Wright Porsche. Triarsi Competizione’s Ryan Dalziel and Justin Wetherill and Crowdstrike Racing with Riley Motorsports’ Colin Braun and George Kurtz rounded out the top-five.
In the Pro class, the top two finishers were in the Pro class. Rennsport One’s Eric Filguerias and Stevan McAleer were third, then MDK Motorsports’ Trenton Estep and Seth Lucas. Conquest Racing’s Alessandro Balzan and Manny Franco were fifth.
Tan and Verhagen’s disqualification resulted in Adelson and Skeer taking the weekend sweep in the Pro-Am. They ended up 2.316 seconds ahead of Dalziel and Wetherill at the finish, then Braun and Kurtz. RealTime Racing’s Adam Christodoulou and Anthony Bartone were fourth, while The Racer’s Group’s Derek DeBoer and Ross Gunn were fifth.
Verhagen originally won the pole for the race. However, his BMW failed post-qualifying inspection. As a result, Dalziel started from pole in his Pro-Am Ferrari.
Once the green came out, Dalziel was able to open up a small lead over Wright Heylen and Skeer. Meanwhile, Racers Edge Motorsports’ Mario Farnbacher had wisps of smoke coming from the back of his Acura.
At first, it seemed like it was just a fluid overflow issue. However, Farnbacher lost power on the second lap of the race and slowed.
The determination was that the engine overheated and expired, leaving oil everywhere. It was the end of the day for Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison and the end of their championship chances.
Early on, the man on the move was Verhagen, showing that his pace earlier in the weekend was not a fluke. Three laps into the race, he had already moved up to seventh overall from 14th. 15 minutes in, Verhagen was fifth.
When Verhagen was able to get past Heylen for third overall, he was around nine seconds behind. With a series of fast laps, Verhagen was able to close that margin to under four seconds. By the time the mid-race stops occurred, Verhagen was up to second. He stated to Busick that it was the best stint he’d ever raced in his career after getting out of the car.
During the mid-race stops, Triarsi Competizione had issues with a faulty door latch and lost multiple spots. Meanwhile, Samantha Tan Racing had a quick stop to put four fresh tires on the No. 38 BMW and Tan in the seat.
Once the stop sequence was complete, Tan ended up with a five-second lead over Adelson. That lead eventually expanded up to 12 seconds.
Meanwhile, Snow was able to drive up and take second overall away from Adelson with a little less than 30 minutes remaining. At that point, Tan’s overall lead was 12.2 seconds.
Snow appeared to have the faster car, but not that much faster. Snow was able to take a couple of tenths of a second out of Tan’s lead per lap.
Further back, a battle for fifth in Pro-Am ended in tears when DXDT Racing’s Scott Smithson collided with DeBoer in turn 10 with 11 minutes to go, resulting in DeBoer spinning out.
DeBoer’s Aston Martin was not significantly damaged and was able to continue. Smithson was given a drive-through penalty for the contact.
In the Pro class, Snow and Heylen were in control from the drop of the green flag. Heylen qualified third overall and kept himself in that spot until Verhagen ran him down. His closest immediate rival was Farnbacher and Farnbacher was done with engine problems almost immediately.
The rest of the Pro class was mired down the order due to bad qualifying efforts on Saturday. With no cautions to bunch up the field, Heylen was able to drive away from his competitors.
When Snow got in the car, it was no different. Snow had the fastest car in the Pro class and was never threatened en route to the Pro class weekend sweep in second overall.
There is only one Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS race remaining in 2023. That is the Indianapolis 8 Hour, also a round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
That race will be held on Oct. 7 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, starting at 12:15 p.m. ET. The race will be streamed live on the GT World YouTube channel and SpeedSport1. Parts of the race will also be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
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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