Saturday Reports: PWC SprintX, GTS & TC from VIR


The Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) takes to Virginia. In this race recap, we look at the SprintX, GTS and TC classes. For our photo gallery, look here.

PWC printX at VIR

ALTON, Va. – The Italian driving combination of Daniel Mancinelli and Andrea Montermini captured Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge SprintX season opener in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 in a wild 60-minute, two-driver sprint event that saw a variety of scenarios at VIRginia International Raceway.

No less than seven two-driver teams miscalculated the 60-second pit lane minimum during the driver change and were forced to serve “drive through” penalties in the second half of the one-hour contest include the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes AMG team of Ryan Dalziel and Daniel Morad, the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Long and Jörg Burgmeister, the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of Alex Riberas and Kyle Marcelli and the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATV-V.R. of Johnny O’Connell and Ricky Taylor.

At the checkered flag, the Ferrari of Mancinelli and Montermini held off the No. 82 McCann Racing Audi R8 LMS of Mike Skeen and Andrew Davis to win by just 0.239-seconds in the Pro-Pro class.

Montermini fought his way to the lead from sixth to win the crowd-pleasing SprintX opener at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road circuit in southern Virginia. Earlier in the race, Mancinelli and Pierre Kaffer of Germany made contact before the driver change with both drivers’ machines spinning off the track. Mancinelli was able to make it to the pit area to switch with Montermini in the Ferrari’s cockpit.

“Fortunately, the last lap before the pit stop, I was overtaking a GT4 car at the back of the track on corner 8-9,” said Mancinelli. “Kaffer was running quicker but I was overtaking the GT4 car and we made contact and spun off the track. The car wasn’t damaged too much and then I dropped the car off to Andrea (Montermini) and he did a good job. After the caution, and factoring in the penalties for the pit stops for the other cars, we ended up with a fantastic win.”

“I was racing in the Blancpain Series in Europe,” said Montermini, a veteran with IndyCar and U.S. Endurance racing experience. Luckily, I was called by the guys and I was so happy to be back here in the U.S. It’s like a second home to me. I had some great days here in the past. I had a good feeling about the racing since I jumped on the track Thursday. Everybody is so nice and professional, and it’s so competitive. To be honest, this is the kind of racing you can’t find in Europe.”

Skeen of nearby Charlotte, won the pole Saturday morning with a new PWC track record of 114.3 miles per hour average and held the early lead in the SprintX event Saturday before tangling with a back marker. Davis, a late addition to the roster after team owner Mike McCann became ill, made a superb drive back up the field to take the runner-up spot in the Pro-Pro division.

“My race started off nice and smooth and we got the lead through turn one,” said Skeen. “I was able to manage a little bit of a gap to (Ryan) Dalziel. Just as the pit window opened we got run off by a lap car and lost a lot of time. Unfortunately, we lost 15-20 seconds before I handed it over to Andrew (Davis). Fortunately for us, some other guys messed up the pit stops so we were able to capitalize. We were able to get the pole earlier and then end up with a podium, but we’re a little more hungry than that and want to get more tomorrow.”

“I was here at VIR to coach my friend, Preston Calvert, when Mike McCann said he needed a driver for him,” said Davis. “Pirelli World Challenge has always been crazy competitive. Last year I was amazed how fast everyone was and how competitive the teams were throughout the series. The driving is very professional too. I think the SprintX format is great. Now you have 35 entries, great driver pairings, I was really impressed the way it worked.”

Rounding out the podium for Saturday’s SprintX event at VIR was the Pro-Am duo of James Sofronas of California and Laurens Vanthoor of Belgium, who finished third overall in the 33-car field and won the Pro-Am division in the No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

“I knew the guys I was racing with were all the Pro-Pro class in the 10th to 15th place,” said Sofronas, the GTA class winner at Long Beach. “So I knew that if I made contact and knocked the car’s alignment out that Laurens (Vanthoor) wouldn’t have a chance. So, I gave up some positions to the pros and then stayed with them knowing that if it went green the whole way, Laurens would get a good car. We had a good strategy on our pit stop and the allowed adjustments we were going to make. There are no easy passes in this series. I was fighting for fifteenth place with some pros – it’s an amazing competition.”

“I had quite a few close calls,” said Vanthoor. “There were a few moments where I would try to make a pass and think to myself ‘I hope this is going to work out.’ But it did work out, I didn’t touch any cars, managed to get through the field quickly and finished first (in class) so it was good.”

Another Pro-Am contingent placed fourth overall with Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., and Jan Heylen of Tampa, Fla., in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with fifth going to the Cadillac Racing Pro-Pro duo of Michael Cooper of Syosset, N.Y., and Jordan Taylor of Orlando, Fla., in the No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R.

Also claiming class wins in the SprintX contest Saturday were Kris Wilson and Drew Regitz in the No. 007 Lasalle Solutions/Abode Road Winery/TRG-AMR Aston Martin GT3 in the GT Am-Am class; Yuki Harata and Allesandro Bressen in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan in the GT Cup Pro-Am; Joe Toussaint and Cory Friedman in the No. 90 Autometrics Porsche 911 GT Cup in the GT Cup Am-Am; Adam Merzon and Trent Hindman in the No. 017 Case-It Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in the GTS Pro-Am; and Cameron Cassels and Phillip Bloom in the No. 018 Case-It Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in the GTS Am-Am.

Sunday’s SprintX Round 2 feature will take place at 1:15 p.m. EDT.


ALTON, Va. – Young French driver Nico Jamin is making a name for himself in U.S. racing already in 2017 following another impressive win Saturday at VIRginia International Raceway in the GTS division in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM Xbow at the Pirelli World Challenge Nissan Grand Prix of VIR.

Jamin, 21, started second in the 17-car GTS presented by Case-It field and grabbed the lead from pole sitter Jeff Courtney and never really looked back as he took the checkered flag over Courtney by 3.396 seconds.

The victory for the talented, young driver was his third in the last six weeks in a variety of motorsports series including a PC class win at Sebring, an Indy Lights victory last week at Barber Motorsports Park and Saturday’s wire to wire GTS triumph at VIR.

“I knew I had to make a very aggressive move on the first lap to grab the lead,” said Jamin. “I went into turns one and two very deep under braking to get the lead from Jeff. My KTM car doesn’t have the straight speed of the Maserati and I needed to get a clean run in the lead. The car is fun to drive and I really enjoyed the race today. I hope to drive it in the future.”

Jamin will start on the pole for Sunday’s GTS presented by Case-It feature beginning at 11:10 a.m. EDT at the popular 3.27-mile, 17-turn road circuit.

Courtney, the PWC veteran, stunned the GTS division in qualifying when he stole the pole position late in the 15-minute session in his No. 99 Maserati GT4 with a track record of 1:55.144 (102.23 mph). The Milwaukee driver finished a solid second Saturday and will start next to Jamin on the front row in Sunday’s GTS feature.

“We have worked on the setup of our car a little and it is extremely strong in the esses here at VIR,” said Courtney. “I had a feeling that Nico was going to deep into the first corner very deeply and that’s exactly what he did. We know what the KTM is capable off too. That won the GTS championship last year. Now, we’ll try to have another strong race Sunday here.”

Third in the 50-minute GTS sprint event was four-time PWC series champion Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4R after a poor qualifying effort in the morning due to broken differential. In fact, Aschenbach’s teammate, Tony Gaples, sacrificed his Saturday race to donate the rear-end from his Camaro to Aschenbach’s machine.

“We had a problem in qualifying and I want to thank Tony for swapping the differential in his car so I could compete today,” said Aschenbach, a two-time GTS champion. “I had a great battle with Martin Barkey and Rodrigo Baptista today. It felt good to finish on the podium and collect important points today after the difficult morning. I think we learned some things too for Sunday’s race.”

Barkey, the Canadian veteran, drove his No. 80 MBRP Performance Exhaust/Mantella Autosport KTM Xbow GT4 to fourth Saturday with Baptista rounding out the top-five and running third for much of the race in the No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.

GTS competitors next take to the track on Sunday at 11:10 a.m. EDT. for Round 4 of of the championship series. Live timing and scoring, as well as live streaming of the race, is available from links found on


ALTON, Va. – Young driver Paul Holton of Orlando, Fla., had a variety of things happening during the 40-minute Touring Car Round 1 event Saturday as he scored the first all-new Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport victory at VIRginia International Raceway in the Pirelli World Challenge Nissan Grand Prix of VIR in difficult 90-degree conditions.

Matthew Fassnacht of Madison, N.J., and young Canaan O’Connell of Chandler, Ariz., son of sports car legend Johnny O’Connell, captured their first PWC wins in the TCA and TCB classes respectively.

Holton became sick in his new No. 71 360R Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport machine halfway through the TC opener but was able to still record his fourth PWC career win over Greg Liefooghe in the No. 20 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR by 0.878-seconds in the 18-lap race.

The event was red flagged on lap 14 when TC driver Jason Fichter of Jupiter, Fla., flipped his No. 7 Mother’s/Shea Racing Honda Accord numerous times in turn 13. Fichter was able to exit his race car and was transferred to Danville Medical Center for observation.

Holton, Liefooghe and veteran Nick Wittmer put on a sensational battle in the early portion of the Touring Car event before Holton took the advantage after the red flag period.

Following the TC event Saturday, Holton was unable to celebrate the victory in the winner’s circle as he asked to be transported to the track medical center for treatment of heat exhaustion-like symptoms.

“I was getting sick in the middle of the race from the heat inside the Audi,” said Holton. “I told the crew to have the medical staff ready after the race because I felt like I was dehydrated and was going to vomit. Then the red flag came out and I really felt worse. To be honest, I lost my lunch during the red flag time and was able to hang in there to the finish. The Audi was awesome today and I’m very happy to take the first win for the new Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport.”

At the finish line, it was Holton, Liefooghe and Wittmer in the No. 91 ST Racing BMW M235iR followed by Anthony Geraci in the No. 69 S.A.C Racing Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport, Rodrigo Sales in the No. 8 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR, Aristotle Balogh in the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR and Karl Wittmer in the No. 99 Honda Ste-Rose Racing Honda Accord.

Fassnacht came back from an early incident to pass his teammate, defending TCA champion Elivan Goulart, in the No. 70 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5 late in the 18-lap contest. Goulart held the lead for a portion of the event before Fassnacht’s move to the lead on the last few laps.

Third went to Eric Powell in the No. 23 Tech Sport Racing Mazda MX-5 followed by Spencer Patterson in the No. 79 Patterson Racing MX-5 and PWC rookie Sarah Montgomery in the No. 65 Shea Racing/Lemons of Love Honda Civic Si.

“I was hit earlier in the race and fell well back into the field,” said Fassnacht. “I was catching up to the leaders. So, when the red flag came out, I was thinking ‘this is it.’ Then I heard that we were going to continue the race and I was pretty happy. It’s a longer race than you think. Thank goodness for that because the adversity I faced today was getting pushed off the track. I actually hit the wall and came into a dead stop and I fell back – someone said dead last but I think at least tenth. But the race was long so I stayed calm and focused on executing each turn and that’s something that I’ve learned from all the technique in my career.”

O’Connell also made a late race move to take the top spot in the TCB division Saturday as he defeated his teammate P.J. Groenke in the No. 25 Tech Sport Racing Chevrolet Sonic and pole sitter Jake Pipal in the No. 6 Pipal Racing Honda Fit.

“Actually that was one of the most fun drives that I ever had to do,” said O’Connell. “It felt really good going into it. I had a little bit of contact by a faster TC car going into turn 17 in a spot where nobody would really make a move. He tried to do it anyway and that caused me to go off the track. I’m going to be back at Lime Rock and CTMP. I’m still trying to get the rest of the season going. My dad has done a great deal for me in the sense of coaching me and teaching me everything that he knows as far as driving. He also says ‘if you want it, you have to make it happen like me’ so I make sure that I work with the ‘big shoes to fill’ mentality and that I was ready when I stepped into a race car.”

In the TC class, Anthony Geraci, driving the No. 69 S.A.C. Racing Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport, turned the fastest lap time with a 2:01.874 lap at 96.59 m.p.h. TCA division best lap was recorded by Elivan Goulart in the No. 70 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5 at 2:11.444 (89.55 m.p.h.) Finally, Taylor Handwerk turned a 2:25.870 (80.70 m.p.h.) lap in the No. 77 Indian Summer Racing MINI Cooper to lead the TCB division.

Sunday’s Touring Car 40-minute feature is scheduled for 2:40 p.m. EDT. Catch live timing and scoring and live streaming of the next round of Touring Car competition at