ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Figge, of Denver, Colo., was declared the GT class winner following post-race technical inspection, while Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., made a late-race pass to take the GTS win in the opening round of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships on Friday at the St. Petersburg Sports Car Challenge presented by StopTech.
On the track, Ryan Dalziel made the most of a late yellow flag brought out by the stranded No. 51 Nissan/Motul/OSGiken/SPL/Sparco Nissan 370Z GTS of Ric Bushey on lap 26. Dalziel got the jump on the lap 31 restart and passed the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 of Figge for the lead, taking the checkered flag in first.
The front splitter of Dalziel’s No. 46 Privacy Star/Entrust Porsche 911 GT3 was declared out of compliance in post-race technical inspection, however, resulting in a disqualification and elevating Figge to his third career victory.
After leading the opening 28 laps from the pole, Figge pushed wide coming off Turn One on the restart, opening the door on the inside for Dalziel to take the lead.
Figge had spent the early part of the race lengthening his lead, until the yellow was displayed on lap 26. By lap 21 Figge had extended his lead to six seconds over the field, finding a way to get through the on-course traffic without losing much time. Figge picked up rubber from the track behind the pace car during the wave-by for GTS cars under yellow, causing him to lose grip on the exit of Turn One.
“I don’t know what to say about winning a race in the tech shed,” Figge said once the results had been made final. “Ryan and I are close friends, and I’ve known the guys at TrueSpeed for a long time. I know they didn’t do anything intentional, and you hate to win this way. It’s nice to get the points, but I’m looking forward to getting another shot at doing it on the track tomorrow.”
James Sofronas, of Villa Park, Calif., had a strong race in the No. 14 GMG/Mobil 1 Audi R8 LMS. Sofronas was passed at the start by Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R, eventually moving back around the Cadillac and the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 of Randy Pobst – inheriting second after the infraction.