Race Report by Mark Dizon
November 16, 2020 – Champion Motorsports ACC heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA for the third round of season five! It was a warm overcast evening at race start and track conditions were optimal for close GT racing. The evening event commenced just right before sunset and finished 65 minutes later in the dark of night.
Hamza Gulzar #14 Bentley Continental GT3 sealed another victory at Laguna Seca! Shawn Campbell #98 Porsche 911 GT3 was not far behind and finished 0.779 seconds after Hamza in P2! Dirk Groeneveld #136 Porsche 911 GT3 kept it clean and consistent throughout the race finishing in P3.
Jonathan Lee #8 Porsche 911 led the GT3 field from pole position at the start of the race but lost the lead to Hamza Gulzar at the Andretti Hairpin after receiving a bump from Matheus Freitas #728 Mercedes-AMG GT3 causing Jonathan Lee to go wide into turn 1 on the opening lap. Lee then lost P2 to Matheus Freitas on lap 4 after unsettling his Porsche coming down the infamous Corkscrew.
A charging Shawn Campbell #98 Porsche 911 GT3 takes P2 from Matheus Freitas #728 Mercedes-AMG GT3 on lap 9 after going side by side with the Merc behind a BMW GT4 into turn 11. Matheus Freitas then had to retire on lap 14 due to technical issues.
Strong performances from Andreas Maier #123 Audi R8 Evo driving from P8 to finish P4 and Michael Parker #231 Ferrari 488 GT3 climbing from P11 to finish at P5. Fastest lap of the GT3s goes to Andreas Specht #77 AMR Vantage GT3 with a lap time of 1:23.730 slightly edging Brandon Chan #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 by 0.003 seconds! Andreas Specht, despite starting from the pitlane, managed to fight up the grid to finish P13 overall.
It was a very close opening few laps in the GT4 class with the whole GT4 train only within a few hundredths of a second interval between each racer. Troy Barman #55 Camaro GT4 clinches the victory and the fastest lap of the race while Michael Kundakcioglu #56 AMR Vantage GT4 secured the second-place finish.
Nicole Umbarger #6 Camaro GT4 started from P8 and captured the third-place podium with a clean pass on Zach Kunin #300 BMW M4 on lap 31, turn 3. Contact made by Zach Kunin with Nicole Umbarger on tun 11 enabled Takis Weekes #35 BMW M4 to overtake Zach Kunin at the start of lap 32. Zach Kunin eventually took back P4 after Takis Weekes went wide on turn 11 in lap 36.
It was an exciting final lap of the GT4 race as a fierce battle for 4th place ensued between four BMW M4s of C. Bruno #909, Takis Weekes #35, Zach Kunin #300 and Matthew Marlow #549. Zach started the final lap in P4 with the other BMW M4s within seconds behind. The corkscrew however claimed Zach Kunin’s M4 as it became unsettled and lost control heading down the spiral allowing C. Bruno to claim P4 while Takis Weekes and Matthew Marlow move pass up in the rankings.
It was a tightly contested GT3 grid for Split 2 in Laguna Seca! Renato Coelho #99 Ferrari 488 GT3 who started from P5 secured the first-place finish followed by Scott Newell #18 Lexus RC F GT3 who drove from P6 to P2. Josh Herrin #696 Lexus RC F GT3 displayed a strong drive rising from P12 and claiming the third-place podium! Paul Seymour #101 Lexus RC F holds the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:24.324.
Scott Newell drove his way to P2 at the early stages of the race catching Paul Seymour #101 Lexus RC F GT3 who started the race in pole position but lost the lead to Scott after losing control in turn 3 of lap 26. Scott Newell maintained P1 fending off Renato Coelho until lap 29 when Scott’s Lexus was pushed wide and off track at the Corkscrew by a Cayman GT4 following contact. This allowed Renato to claim P1 and maintained the position for the victory.
A standout performance came from Josh Herrin who drove his #696 Lexus RC F GT3 to P3 from P12 gaining 6 positions in the first 10 laps of the race. Josh secured P3 after overtaking Edward Chan’s #587 AMR Vantage GT3 at the Rahal Straight on lap 25 and thundered his Lexus to within 0.872 seconds of P2 in the last lap of the race. Contact was made with Scott Newell on turn 11 in the final lap after Josh made a late brake attempt to take P2 but had to concede for third-place.
In the midfield, a tough battle between Abe Duarte #913 BMW M6 GT3 and David Merriman #19 Lexus RC F GT3 ensued on lap 25 as David Merriman intensely defended his position from the charging BMW M6. Abe Duarte was then able to pass after taking the inside line at the Corkscrew on lap 32 when both racers got caught behind GT4 traffic.
Milan Plachy #199 AMR Vantage GT4 managed to take the win in the GT4 class despite losing the lead on lap 1 and lap 21 from hits by GT3s at the Corkscrew. He also takes fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:31.497. Matt Largi #31 KTM X-Bow GT4 comes in at P2 and Zach Morgan #421 AMR Vantage GT4 finishes in P3 after starting the race in P7.
It was a very eventful race for the GT4 class in split 2. A head on collision occurred at the entry to Rahal Straight on lap 17 as Neil Sutherland #68 Cayman was not able to avoid a beached Adam Stark #66 Cayman. Multiple incidents of contact and damage also occurred at the Corkscrew and elsewhere on the track involving both GT4s and GT3s.
Join Champion Motorsports on November 23, 2020 for Round 4 at the home of the Green Hell in the Nurburgring!
Race Results – Split 1
Race Results – Split 2