Sebastian Priaulx took a lights-to-flag victory in the opening round of the 2021 Porsche Carrera Cup North America series, an action-packed race saw the new Porsche 992-based Cup cars do battle around the Sebring International Raceway.
The Kelly-Moss Road and Race driver drove a steady race to hold off his team-mate Kay van Berlo who was tucked up under his wing for the duration of the race.
At the start of the race Priaulx timed things perfectly as he pulled out an immediate gap, second-place Leh Keen was caught out and as a result, dropped down to fourth place within opening corners as Kay van Berlo and Riley Dickinson got the jump on him.
There was early drama as Max Root spun as a result of a puncture, leaving him facing the wrong way as the rest of the field careered towards him, unfortunately for the young driver, his car was clipped by passing traffic, damaging his suspension and putting him out of the race.
It was clear from the opening lap that it was going to be near impossible for the field to catch the Kelly-Moss duo at the front of the pack as they pulled out a gap from the chasing cars, Priaulx doing his best to defend from his team-mate.
Jeffrey Majkrzak had a scare after straying on to the dirt in his previous generation 911 GT3 Cup car, thankfully he managed to get going again. It wasn’t long before another spin, this time it was Phillip Martien who collided with another car as they headed into the final corners, one high-speed spin later he resumed as if nothing had happened.
Frank Raso’s race came to a premature end, after spinning in the early stages of the race, the Pro-Am 991 driver was forced to retire with just 8 laps of the race under his belt.
By lap 12 Priaulx was starting to catch traffic, now it wasn’t just the pressure from van Berlo he had to deal with, it was lapping the backmarkers.
At this point of the race, the Kelly-Moss due were out front with a comfortable lead, that was until TJ Fisher saw his car propelled into the air after running wide on a corner; For a moment it looked as if he had survived the initial off as he looked to get back on track, that was until his car hit an access road and the elevation change forced the rear of the car into the air, coming down with a massive impact, this would cause a full course yellow, bringing the field together once again.
It was a bad time for Topp Racing, after seeing Fisher suffer difficulties, their Pro-Am driver Bill Smith ended up in the middle of the track after suffering a puncture. He would get going again but lose the tyre from the rim on the way back to the pits, delaying the restart of the race further.
As the clock counted down the lights on the safety car went out and the drivers got ready to get going again; as the field neared the end of the lap Priaulx closed everyone up as he looked to make the most of the restart. Heading into the final corners there was almost a collision between the two Kelly-Moss cars as Priaulx slowed while he was warming his tyres, causing van Berlo to take avoiding action, thankfully there would be no incidents on the restart.
While the top two positions looked set in stone there was an emerging battle for third and fourth places between Keen and Parker Thompson, and a battle for fifth and sixth between Dickinson and Dylan Murry. Keen would get the better of Thompson, but it was Murry who would make the most of things and gain a position on the final lap.
As the clock counted down and the white flag was flown, Priaulx remained in control at the front, the battle for victory in the Pro-Am class wasn’t quite as clean-cut though as Alan Metni and class pole-sitter Efrin Castro battled to the finish; Metni would take the class victory by 0.201 seconds.
In the Pro-Am 991 class, it was Kurt Hunt who drove a steady race in the ACI Motorsports car, picking up a class win on the opening race of the season.
Porsche Carrera Cup North America – Race 1 – Sebring International Raceway*
|1||Pro||15||Seb Priaulx(J)||Kelly-Moss Road and Race||19||45:09.5|
|2||Pro||3||Kay van Berlo(J)||Kelly-Moss Road and Race||19||+1.238|
|3||Pro||12||Leh Keen||311RS Motorsport||19||+2.727|
|4||Pro||9||Parker Thompson(J)||JDX Racing||19||+3.446|
|5||Pro||38||Dylan Murry(J)||BGB Motorsports||19||+4.130|
|6||Pro||53||Riley Dickinson(J)||Team Hardpoint EBM||19||+7.072|
|7||Pro||27||Sebastian Carazo(J)||Kelly-Moss Road and Race||19||+8.259|
|8||Pro||2||Sean McAlister(J)||JDX Racing||19||+8.537|
|9||Pro||11||Ryan Gates||311RS Motorsport||19||+13.387|
|11||Pro-Am||65||Efrin Castro||Team Hardpoint EBM||19||+14.401|
|12||Pro||88||Hutton McKenna||Wright Motorsports||19||+14.835|
|13||Pro-Am||17||Curt Swearingin||ACI Motorsports||19||+15.841|
|14||Pro-Am||69||Thomas Collingwood||BGB Motorsports||19||+16.388|
|15||Pro-Am||54||Tim Pappas||JDX Racing||19||+18.913|
|16||PA991||24||Kurt Hunt||ACI Motorsports||19||+19.287|
|17||PA991||55||Matt Halcome||Goldcrest Motorsports||19||+19.408|
|18||PA991||21||Grady Willingham||Goldcrest Motorsports||19||+20.271|
|19||Pro-Am||10||Vernon McClure||TPC Racing||19||+20.670|
|20||PA991||8||Joe Still||Goldcrest Motorsports||19||+22.033|
|21||PA991||29||Jeffrey Majkrzak||Goldcrest Motorsports||19||+22.370|
|22||PA991||97||Craig Conway||Irish Mike’s Racing||19||+32.878|
|23||Pro||14||Erik Johansson||MRS GT Racing||19||+62.307|
|24||PA991||72||Phillip Martien||Goldcrest Motorsports||19||+93.404|
|25||PA991||64||Ted Giovanis||ACI Motorsports||18||1L|
|26||PA991||92||Joseph Lombardo||Kelly-Moss Road and Race||17||1L|
|27||Pro-Am||84||Rene Robichaud||Kelly-Moss Road and Race||17||2L|
|28||Pro-Am||42||Bill Smith||Topp Racing||15||3L|
|29||Pro||58||TJ Fischer||Topp Racing||13||5L|
|30||Pro||16||Jeff Kingsley||MRS GT Racing||13||5L|
|31||PA991||59||Tom Balames||Kelly-Moss Road and Race||9||9L|
|32||PA991||56||Frank Raso||Topp Racing||8||10L|
|33||Pro-Am||57||John Goetz||Wright Motorsports||3||15L|
|37||Pro||7||Maxwell Root(J)||Moorespeed-Wright Motorsports||—||18L|