Race Weekend Central

Adam Adelson, Elliott Skeer Win Fanatec GTWCA Sonoma Race No. 1

Wright Motorsports’ Elliott Skeer ran down and took the overall lead away from DXDT Racing’s Jeff Burton with 30 minutes to go Saturday (April 6). From there, Skeer was able to hold on to win the season-opening Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS race of 2024 at Sonoma Raceway.

“[Wright Motorsports] gave us an unbelievable car,” Skeer told SRO America’s Amanda Busick after the race. “Adam [Adelson] did everything he could in his stint to hold off Luca Mars, which was awesome. Made my job as easy as it could be.”

The margin of victory was 14.393 seconds over CrowdStrike Racing by Riley’s Colin Braun and George Kurtz. ST Racing’s Bill Auberlen and Varun Choksey were third in their BMW, then teammates Samantha Tan and Neil Verhagen. Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley and Justin Rothberg were fifth.

In the Pro class, Adelson and Skeer won by 43.078 seconds over Auberlen and Choksey. Mars and Zach Veach were third.

Rule changes for 2024 allow teams to freely pick which of their drivers would be designated as Driver No. 1 and who is Driver No. 2. As a result, the Pro-Am class was a mix of Pro and amateur starting drivers instead of just amateur drivers at the start.

DXDT Racing’s Philip Ellis started from the overall pole in his Mercedes-AMG GT3 and led early. However, the safety car came out at the end of the first lap. Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Elias Sabo ran off-course on the inside of turn 6 and got stuck on the hillside, requiring a retrieval. He would continue, but lost a lap in the process.

For Ellis, the goal was clear. Run away from the rest of the pack and open up as big of a lead as possible. 17 minutes into the race, he’d opened up a seven-second lead.

Effectively, Ellis had a second on everyone and nearly two seconds a lap on everyone in the Pro-Am class. The new pavement at Sonoma Raceway eliminated the heavy tire wear that has marked previous races on the 2.505-mile road course. As a result, Ellis continued to post fast lap times well into the run. His best lap was the 25th lap of the race, more than 40 minutes in.

Unlike last year, there isn’t necessarily a pit window in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS. However, there is a 40-minute minimum drive-time for each driver and a 50-minute maximum.

Ellis chose to stay out as long as possible to give Burton the maximum possible advantage. At the time the stops began, Ellis had a 36-second lead.

Once Burton took over, he didn’t have anywhere near the same pace as Ellis. He was four to five seconds a lap slower than his immediate competition.

In the Pro class, Adelson started on pole in his Porsche, but lost the class lead early to Mars. Ultimately, he was able to retake the advantage, then settle himself in second overall with a small advantage over Mars. That advantage was just over a second, but Adelson was able to hold onto that gap.

During the mid-race pit stops, Wright Motorsports had a great stop with an overall pit lane time of 85.299 seconds, just under three-tenths of a second more than the 85-second minimum. That gained Skeer some time. In addition, the Racers Edge Acura got busted for speeding in the pit lane, taking them out of contention.

By the time the stops were complete, Burton’s lead was down to roughly 25 seconds over Skeer. It took 15 minutes for Skeer to run Burton down and take the overall lead. Once out front, Skeer quickly pulled away from the pack.

Burton still had the chance to claim the Pro-Am victory, but he had to deal with Braun. Braun was every bit as fast as Ellis was and easily ran down Burton for the lead just a few minutes later. Burton and Ellis ultimately had to settle for sixth in Pro-am.

Once Braun had the Pro-Am lead in second overall, he was nearly 18 seconds behind Skeer. Braun ran as hard as he could over the final 25 minutes, but simply could not run down Skeer.

Despite being unable to run down Skeer, Braun and Kurtz ended up taking the Pro-Am victory in second overall. Their margin of victory was 32.922 seconds over Tan and Verhagen. Foley and Rothberg were third, then Esses Racing with Mercedes-Benz of Austin’s Adam Carroll and Will Hardeman. DXDT Racing’s Bryan Sellers and Scott Smithson were fifth.

Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS: Sonoma Race No. 1 Results

Race No. 2 for Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS is scheduled to go green at 5:15 p.m. ET Sunday. Coverage will begin at 5 p.m. ET 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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