Hart & Travis Return To Form In VIR SprintX Fight

0
45
Jason Hart and Matt Travis drove the No. 47 entry to victory in Sunday's Pirelli GT4 America SprintX event.
Jason Hart and Matt Travis drove the No. 47 entry to victory in Sunday's Pirelli GT4 America SprintX event.

ALTON, Va. – Jason Hart and Matt Travis returned to form at Virginia Int’l Raceway Sunday morning, scoring the Pro/Am Division and overall Pirelli GT4 America SprintX win.

The duo of Jarett Andretti and Colin Mullan captured the Silver Division win, while the Zac Anderson of Sean Gibbons pairing won in Am.

Sunday morning’s 60-minute race was the make-up for the cancelled Long Beach round. From pole, Silver division competitor Nick Wittmer led the field to the green and successfully launched to head the field through turn one. Behind him, Am competitor Kris Wilson slotted into second, while Mullan slotted into third overall.

James Walker Jr. looking for a three-race sweep on the weekend with driver partner Bill Auberlen, slotted into fifth overall and first in the Pro/Am class.

The leaders held position when on lap three race control issued a full-course caution for the safety crew to retrieve the No. 2 GMG Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 driven by Jason Bell that sat deadsticked in turn five. On the lap seven restart, Wittmer again pulled away successfully into the lead.

Behind him Wilson was being challenged by Mullan and with the driver of No. 36 McLaren looking for a way by, Tim Barber slipped by for third position overall in the race. Walker dropped from fifth to 11th after contact with another competitor on the restart, moving Travis, in the #47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, up into fifth overall and first in Pro/Am.

As the pit window opened at halfway point of race, Travis came in immediately for the driver changeover to Hart, while leaders Wittmer and Wilson remained out to maximize track position. Wittmer however would run wide coming out of the Oak Tree Turn allowing Wilson to swing by and grab the overall race lead.

With Hart and Andretti now out on track the two began an intense multi-lap battle for fifth overall in the race. Hart eventually passed Andretti through turn one to move up into fourth overall. By lap 14 and the pit window nearing its close both Wilson and Wittmer entered for the driver changeover.

With the window closed and driver changeovers completed, Harry Gottsacker, who took over the reins from Wittmer, returned to the lead and first in the Silver division, while Hart was now up into second overall and first in Pro/Am, with Andretti third and second in the Silver division. Behind them John Allen, who took over for Wilson, sat sixth overall and first in Am lead, while Auberlen, who took over the seat from Walker slotted into seventh overall, second in Pro/Am.

Am leader Allen would then go off track at Oak Tree Turn after contact with Vesko Kozarov. Anderson took advantage and moved up to first in Am. With Gottsacker up by five seconds over Hart for the overall lead on lap 19, race control issued a drive through penalty for a pit lane speed violation on the driver changeover.

With Gottsacker coming in to serve the penalty, Hart moved into the overall lead. Behind him Andretti held second while Cole Ciraulo, who had taken over for Barber, was third, and Auberlen was on a charge up to fourth overall.

By lap 21, Hart held a .337 second advantage over Andretti, with Auberlen continuing his charge up into third overall. While Andretti began a battle with Hart for overall lead on lap 22, behind them  Greg Liefooghe had moved up into third in Pro/Am. With Anderson still leading in the Am class and 14th overall, Derek DeBoer began hounding John Tecce for second in Am. DeBoer would execute a beautiful move on the outside of Oak Tree Turn to grab the position in class.

As Andretti pressed to look for a way around Hart, he would drop wheels coming off the final turn of the track, eventually regaining control to slot back into third overall. Auberlen moved up to second and began a pursuit of Hart.

In the final stages of the race, Auberlen would close the gap but at the checkered Hart crossed ahead by .776 seconds.  Andretti crossed third overall and first in Silver, Liefooghe (Sean Quinlan) was fourth overall and third in Pro/Am. Jon Miller passed Ciraulo on the last lap to secure second in the Silver Division, while Ciraulo/Barber finished third in class. In Am, Anderson crossed ahead of DeBoer and Tecce.

“I was going as fast as I could go, with a couple of mistakes. I had nothing left I gave everything for every lap and every corner,” said Hart after the race. “I thank Andretti for racing me clean. We had a good duel. Once I got clear of him the first thing, I heard in my radio was the delta ahead of Auberlen, and his pace to my pace. Man, I just rung it for everything I had left.”