Although the challenges of 2020 have impacted everyone including the motorsports world, at International GT we are very grateful for the races we’ve had and for a fantastic season finale at Daytona International Speedway!! The racing was great and the paddock full of new faces and old friends.
The on-track action was intense starting with three sprint races on Saturday. However, hanging over the event was the ongoing see-saw battle for the 2020 Mission Foods GT3 Cup Trophy Championship. With the Stuttgart Cup and Maranello Cup Championships already clinched, the close battle for the Mission Foods GT3 Cup title was tense with calculations, projections, speculations and a whole lot of “what if” being postulated in the garages. To end the anxiety and guessing, spoiler alert…TED GIOVANIS (on left in photo) was the ultimate Championship winner, more details later.
The first sprint race set the tone for the weekend with a fierce battle out front where a blanket could cover the first six finishers. Taking the overall win was JUAN LOPEZ-SANTINI #74, 901 Shop, in his Mission Foods GT3 Cup Trophy 4R, followed by MARK SANDRIDGE #58, Team Salad, who we welcomed back to IGT competition for the first time since kicking off 2020 at Sebring. Juan would repeat the overall victory in Sprint Race 3 however newcomer to International GT SIMON GREGG #59 Exhibition class from Burtin Racing, in his AMG would capture the overall victory in a rainy Sprint Race 2 just beating out Lopez-Santini. The excitement heated up literally in the enduro where the #74 experienced an engine fire in the weaning laps, causing a late race full-course caution. Gregg had a great weekend, winning the Exhibition category in every race on the weekend. Another new face to IGT was MATT DALTON #331, RS1 Racing in an Aston Martin Vantage taking the second step of the podium in the Exhibition class for Sprints 1 and 3 and the enduro. Like many he chose to sit out the wet second sprint race. DAN REED #18 joined the Exhibition class in his McLaren 650S. The IGT first-timer experienced a few mechanical gremlins throughout the weekend but is looking forward to returning to IGT competition in 2021.
Benoit also gets honorable mention for the coolest mask – a nod to the prancing horse he drives. Our favorite Canadian, repeated at Maranello Cup Champion for 2019 and 2020!
The 2019 and repeat 2020 Maranello Cup Champion BENIOT BERGERON#127, Etcetera Racing, swept the Ferrari 458 category spending most of his time running near the front adding to the diversity and competitiveness of the IGT field.
The Stuttgart Cup was well represented at Daytona with several return competitors and a few newcomers. TIM HORRELL#145, RS1 Racing swept the 3.8 category winning all three sprint races where FRANK VITIELLO #311, Speedsport Tuning was runner up each time. In the enduro MIHAIL MIHAYLOV #623 also from the RS1 camp debuted with International GT pulling off the upset win with Horrell second and Vitiello third. Vitiello took a bit of good ribbing after three runner-up finishes, then going to third. In fun he explained that his crew chief told him he really needed to change steps on the podium, the crew chief just never made it clear which direction! In the 3.4 liter category, repeat Stuttgart Cup Champion WILL WACHS #017 saw the return of his old friend and rival, RUSSELL WITTENBERG #33 and the two would split the wins. Wachs taking Sprint Race 2 and the enduro wins, while Wittenberg won Sprints 1 and 3. Another 3.4 Cayman competitor was first-timer, SCOTT SEWELL #14 from Quirt Racing out of Texas. Scott was Mr. Consistency taking the final place on the podium in all of the races on the weekend.
The highlight of the weekend was the edge-of-your-seat intense battle in the Mission Foods GT3 Cup 3.8 and 4 liter categories. International GT was delighted to welcome six entries from Competition Motorsports out of California to the field. Led by shop owner and veteran sportscar racer, BOB FAIETA #41. The California gang came to win and as a force made many podium appearances. But it was IGT regular MARK GREENBERG #421 from Extreme Velocity Motorsports who won the first sprint race in the Mission Foods GT3 Cup Trophy 4 liters. Competition Motorsports completed the podium with Faieta taking second followed by PAUL NEMSCHOFF #4 in third. The wet Sprint Race 2 was won by MARK MATHYS #77 with second going to NICHOLAS GROOMBRIDGE from Speedsport Tuning out of Connecticut and third to DAVID KUCHRAWY #88 also a Speedsport entry. The California group came back in Sprint Race 3, where Faieta took the win, this time followed by teammates HUTTON McKENNA #8 in second and Nemschoff in third. In Sunday’s enduro Nemschoff took the outright overall race win with co-driver MARC MILLER. Second went to Faieta and third to PRESTON CALVERT #771 another Competition Motorsports entry.
But as we said at the start of this report, the battle of the weekend took place in the Mission Foods GT3 Cup 3.8 category. Going into the weekend, BOB WISEN #27 from Ultra Performance had the lead in the points but the points system only recognizes the top 10 sprint and top 5 enduro race finishes. TED GIOVANIS #644 and Team TGM knew their only hope was to have an almost flawless weekend. The Sprint Race 1 victory went to Florida local and newcomers to International GT, TLM Racing owner DAVID TUATY #68, followed by Giovanis and Tuaty’s TLM teammate JAMES HAMMAN #176. In the rain it was Giovanis taking the second sprint race win followed by points leader Wisen and third went to IGT regular ANDREW UZAROWSKI #112 from ZOTZ Racing. The third sprint race was also won by Giovanis, with JOHN BLEAZARD #330, Quirt Racing, finishing second and Wisen completing the podium. It all came down to the enduro and Giovanis with co-driver HUGH PLUMB took their Porsche to victory and secured the Championship for Giovanis. Dr. John (Bleazard) with co-driver JASON HART was second in the enduro with Tuaty and co-driver JOSE BONILLA finishing third.
This race report would not be complete without the not-so-silent appearance of TOM PANK and his multiple Ultra Performance entries. Pank never once stood on the podium but he raced in an Audi R8, his Porsche 4 liter Cup car, his son Lukas’s 3.8 Porsche (while Lukas finishes out the term at Virginia Tech) and even found time to co-drive with Wisen in the enduro. Any other year this would have us scratching our heads but it all makes perfect sense in 2020!!
You may want to consider a race weekend photo from IGT Series Photographer John Kernodle, or a unique photo product using such a photo, as a Christmas / holiday gift for a loved one, friend, or yourself. Prints, discounted IGT digital photo packages (both single race and a new “season” package are available) home decor items (including metal prints and art prints), and other photo products can be purchased from John’s website. Gift certificates are also available.
John is offering holiday/year end 15% discounts from December 16 through January 15. Use code “holiday_2020” at checkout to obtain the discount. The discount offer is not applicable to digital downloads purchased from the “shop” pages of the website or to the digital photo packages (which are already discounted).
Click on the photo above for more information and for links to the galleries, photo packages, and gift certificates.
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