Kris Wilson, driver of the #07 Aston Martin Vantage GT4, returned to the top step of the podium yesterday after winning the second GTS race of the Pirelli World Challenge‘s visit to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
Wilson started on the front row, next to the #73 Porsche Cayman of Jack Baldwin. The second row was made up of Ben Clucas, in the #36 Kia Optima and Andrew Aquilante in the #32 Ford Mustang Boss 302.
Baldwin took the lead from the start, but Wilson overtook him at Turn 8. Baldwin suffered from a transmission failure and his car stalled at Turn 4 on the second lap, bringing out the race’s first caution.
The top five for the restart on lap 5 were: Wilson, Aquilante, Clucas, Kurt Rezzetano (#37 Ford Mustang Boss 302) and Mark Wilkins, with the #38 Kia Optima. Wilson once again took the lead, with Rezzetano challenging him. However, Rezzetano was given a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line, moving Dean Martin, and the #50 Ford Mustang Boss 302, into 5th place.
A few laps later, Lou Gigliotti moved his #28 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 into 5th, passing Martin and then Lawson Aschenbach, driver of the #1 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.
On lap 14, Wilkins’ Kia Optima had an issue moving him back to 14th, and a lap later he retired on track, bringing out another caution.
Restarting on lap 17, Wilson led, followed by Clucas, Aquilante, Spencer Pumpelly (#87 Ford Mustang Boss 302), and Gigliotti. This remained until lap 22, when Pumpelly moved up to third. Over the next few laps, he constantly made moves trying to pass Clucas, and finally did so on lap 27, moving up to 2nd.
With no traffic, Wilson was able to pull away, making a seven second lead over Pumpelly by the end of the race.
The final top six stood as: Wilson, Pumpelly, Clucas, Aquilante, Gigliotti and Brandon Davis, who is of note for starting 23rd but skilfully moving up to 6th throughout the 30 lap race. The fastest lap of the race was set by Rezzetano on lap 13, a 1:32.400.
“I was hoping that we wouldn’t have such a hard race again today, but the field was so strong and I had to work hard,” said Clucas, 3rd place. “We had really, really good pace especially in the first half of the race. We were able to more or less run second for that time. The front tires began to go away and I just sort of waited for the guys behind me to make their moves. I saw that Spencer was a second a lap faster and he finally got me. Pretty happy with the points that come with this finish.
“First off a huge thank you to everyone at DWW Motorsports for the great Mustang,” said Pumpelly, finishing 2nd. “A lot of people considered us an underdog, but I never did. Hats off to the team. I am having so much fun racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. The race was only disappointing because of our finish yesterday we had to start back a bit. The car was excellent and really good in long stints. We had a hard but clean race to get to the finish. Great race!”
“The guys on the team at TRG did a great job today for us,” said Wilson, winner of both GTS rounds this weekend. “We just really had to manage the race until with 20 minutes to go my team informed me that Spencer was coming. With the battle behind me though I didn’t have to work too hard to keep the lead at the end. Again thank you to the crew.”
After winning both GTS races this weekend, Wilson has 661 points, and leads over Aquilante with 530. The next race weekend for the GTS class in the Pirelli World Challenge will be held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, on May 15-17.
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