(Milwaukee, WI: March 19th, 2018) - The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge GTS Sprint season kicked off on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida with a massive grid of GT4 cars in front of an equally massive crowd of rabid race fans.
After two practice sessions, JCR Motorsports went into Saturday’s qualifying session anxious but prepared to see where their Maserati GT4s truly stood against the competition. At the end of the 20-minute qualifying session, team owner/driver Jeff Courtney layed down a best lap of 1:19.967 around the tight and twisty street course -- good enough for 6th in class in his #99 Kenda Tire/X-Analytics machine. Due to mechanical issues, Fred Roberts and the #89 Enercare Maserati was not able to set a time for qualifying, missing the first race.
Race 1 started late on Saturday afternoon under cloudy skies. As soon as the green flag flew, Courtney powered up to 5th position. After rain started to fall just 9 minutes into the race, Courtney found grip on the slippery street circuit to move up to 4th in class. Late in the race the 2nd place running Audi punctured its right front tire, allowing Courtney to sweep by to get on the podium in class and finish 10th overall. The Milwaukee-based driver set a fastest time of 1:20.733 during the race to give him a starting position of 6th for Sunday’s round 2. “We expected to struggle here a bit as a street circuit is not the greatest fit for our Maserati’s, especially without the electronic goodies the new GT4 cars have, but a few things fell our way and we ended up on the podium. It’s a great way to kick off the season with the exception of Fred’s rough luck.” said owner/driver Jeff Courtney.
Race 2 started early Sunday morning with fans geared up to see the 28 GT4 machines fly by one more time. As soon as the race went green, both JCR motorsports drivers were on it! Courtney moved up to 5th position; Fred Roberts, who started last due to not racing on Saturday, jumped to 13th in class. On lap 6, Courtney’s Maserati was spun by an imprecise move from a rival BMW at Turn 1 and he dropped to 12th in class. Luckily, the car did not face any damage and could continue racing. Roberts and the #89 took advantage of the mele to sneak up to 10th position in the GTSA class, where he would ultimately finish. With fire in his eyes after being spun, Courtney fought his way back through the field to finish in an impressive 5th position. Speaking on the second race, Courtney said, “Obviously not the way we wanted Race 2 to go but unfortunately street course races tend to promote those low percentage moves! Fortunately we were hit in a place on the car that allowed us to continue and salvage a reasonable finish, in the end we had a great weekend with the awesome people from SSIC / X-ANALYTICS and all their guests in attendance.”
The team now heads to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas to kickoff the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX season with two 60-minute races on the 3.4 mile, 20 turn circuit.
GTS SprintX Race 1 will take place on Saturday March 24th at 1:20pm Central with Race 2 on Sunday March 25th at 10:15am Central. Both races can be streamed live on world-challenge.com.