Andy Lee in his mega Chevrolet Camaro claimed victory in the first GTS race of the weekend at Sonoma after holding off a determined Michael Cooper in his Chevrolet Z28.
It took two rolling starts to get the race underway after John Allen stalled his Porsche Cayman on the first rolling start, so the whole grid went round again.
Lee will be pleased they did as he jumped into the lead from second place with Cooper slipping down behind the Camaro. Kia Racing’s Mark Wilkins hoped to capitalise on any mistakes in third place with his team mate Ben Clucas sitting fourth.
By the fifth lap of the race, Lee and Cooper opened up a substantial lead over third and fourth place who were preoccupied with keeping Andrew Aquilante in fifth place in his monstrous Ford Mustang.
However, Aquilante didn’t keep fifth for long as Jack Baldwin – in the GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman S – took the place off him at turns 7a/7b.
He then went on an absolute charge claiming fourth and then third in the space of a handful of laps – with Aquilante slip-streaming his way behind the Cayman to also move up to fourth all at the expense of the Kia’s.
They couldn’t move up to challenge the leaders as Lee and Cooper held an 11 second lead over the pair of chargers whilst still battling hammer and tongs amongst themselves. Eventually they would take the chequered flag with only 0.336 seconds between them .
“It’s been a crazy couple of years, we used to be on podium every race and you start to take it for granted a little bit,” said Lee. “And somewhere along the lines, changes in the team and changes in other things, we kind of lost it for a bit. It’s amazing to be back, it’s a great feeling.”
Thankfully for Cooper, his second placed finish in race one maintained his lead at the top of the GTS points table. He said: “Having two podiums in a row for the first time this year is very nice (Round 14 win at Miller Motorsports Park). I don’t know if we had anything for Andy today, and if we did we would have burned it down trying to get by him, and that just wasn’t worth it to me at this point in the year for points. With two races left, your mind set is a little different than if there was only one. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, execute, make changes and just be smart.”