LONG BEACH, Calif. – The Racers Group’s Spencer Pumpelly went flag-to-flag on the Streets of Long Beach to win round three of Pirelli GT4 America competition on Sunday.
The No. 66 Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR driver took the top spot with a record-setting qualifying lap and never looked back from the drop of the green flag, finishing .687 of a second ahead of second place.
“We had a pretty good car right off the bat,” Pumpelly remarked. “But I had a great car setup from TRG, so I just kept making sure I hit my marks while seeing where Ian (James) was. I couldn’t do anything to get over the sinking feeling that (his) car was growing in my mirrors and sure enough, in those last laps, he got really close and I had to turn it back up to hang on. This is a really cool first win of the season for myself and the team.”
Team Panoz pro Ian James put on a late charge for the win, closing the gap down from as much as 1.5 seconds, but didn’t have enough to capture the win from Pumpelly, finishing in his original starting position of second place in the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT4.
“We had a pretty good start; there was a little bit of defense, but we’re always on the attack toward the end of the race,” James noted. “At the beginning I was focusing on the McLaren and I thought that if he got ahead of me that I would have to attack to get that back but I managed to stay with Spencer and it ended up with a second place finish.”
Veteran Michael Cooper maximized the race start and drove from seventh to third before the end of the second lap, managing to hold off a charging Matt Keegan to take the last step on the podium.
It marked a first this season for the Blackdog Speedshop Team, with Cooper taking his new No. 10 McLaren 570S GT4 to a podium appearance.
“I started in seventh and managed to get past a few cars into fourth, and then I passed Matt (Keegan) and got into third, but I couldn’t catch up to Spencer and Ian,” said Cooper. “Early on I was able to hang with them a little bit, but after the cautions I just got left in the dust so I basically ran my own race and just watched my mirrors from there.”
On the Amateur podium, James’ teammate Matt Keegan piloted the No. 51 Panoz Avezzano to a team double-podium between the two classes, which saw Keegan in first place in category and just outside contention for the overall podium in fourth.
“It was very cool to win here,” Keegan said. “I have my friends and family here this weekend to support me, and it’s my first race at this track so it’s really exciting (to win.)”
The second step on the amateur podium went to Jarett Andretti in the No. 18 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4. Andretti started fourth overall on the grid and managed to fight out of traffic that found him as far back as 10th before finishing seventh overall and as the second highest ranking amateur.
Drew Staveley fought his way back from the last row on the grid due to a technical infraction and onto the amateur podium in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang GT4.