Record Entry Delivers Fantastic Racing
On what was a beautiful, sunny autumn weekend, International GT took to the track at Road Atlanta to race in the “eight-month-Covid-delayed” second round of the season this past weekend. With all the changes to the schedule due to the pandemic, Road Atlanta had extra importance as a double points event in the closely contested Championship.
A record entry of 30+ cars descended on the red clay Georgia hills at Road Atlanta. Known for its elevation changes and technical turns, the drivers and teams came prepared for a fabulous weekend of racing, and were not disappointed!
GIANO TAURINO #88 raced with his Lamborghini Huracán and won both sprint races overall in the Exhibition category. However, the nail-biter at the front of the field was in the Mission Foods GT3 Cup 4R category where past IGT champion, JUAN LOPEZ-SANTINI #74 (901 Shop) and race veteran CORY FRIEDMAN #014(Autometrics) were joined by, SHANNON HERFORD #515 (Autometrics), current champion, TOM PANK #42 (Ultra Performance), JUAN GONZALEZ #81 (Mission Foods, Car Amigo) and newcomers MARK MATHYS and AARON QUINE#77 (splitting the sprint races and co-driving in the enduro) to put on a fantastic battle in both sprint races! Cory Friedman came out victorious in the Sprints and teamed up to drive with Shannon Herford in his #515 to win a very closely contested endurance race with Lopez-Santini on Sunday. Completing the enduro podium was Mathys and Quine.
MISSION FOODS GT3 CUP 4, 3.8 AND 3.6 LITER
Georgia based Goldcrest Motorsports trio – Halcome, Willingham and Still
Not to be outdone, both the Mission Foods GT3 Cup 4 and 3.8 liter categories were full of lead changes and close competition. New to the series, MATT HALCAME #55 (Goldcrest Motorsports) was on the heels of the 4R cars, winning in the 4 liter category in both Sprint races. Goldcrest Motorsports was well represented at Road Atlanta with GRADY WILLINGHAM #21 and JOE STILL #08 also in the 4 liter category. Willingham had a pair of second place finishes while Still completed the podium in both sprint races.
The racing at Road Atlanta also caused a shake up in the Mission Foods GT3 Cup Trophy championship points battle. The races in the 3.8 liter category were epic on track with BEN JOHNSTON #51 (swapping his usual Ferrari 458 for a Porsche 991) took class victories in both sprint races followed closely by MICHAEL CHIARAMONTE #1 (Hyper Sport) finishing second in all three races on the weekend. Sunday’s enduro was a thriller with TED GIOVANIS #64 (Team TGM) and co-driver HUGH PLUMB taking the win. Flying a bit under the radar but making a podium appearance in each race on the weekend, BOB WISEN #27 (Ultra Performance) made everyone take notice by taking over as the points leader in the Championship with only one race remaining! But the battle is tight and will come down to the December 11-13 event at Daytona with four real contenders: Wisen, Pank, Giovanis and Randy Cassling. CASSLING #70 dominated in the 3.6 liter category throughout the weekend sweeping the category in all three races, allowing him to leap up in the point standings with Road Atlanta being a double points event.
STUTTGART CUP – Caymans
Road Atlanta had a record entry in the Stuttgart Cup Cayman category. Slowly growing in entries all year, there were several new faces at Road Atlanta. Dominating the 3.4 category was newcomer from SpeedSport Racing, DAVID KUCHRAWY #225. Pressure was constant for Kuchrawy from LAWRENCE TRUNK #338, WILL WACHS #05 and father/son duo JOE and JOEY SULLIVAN #14. Wachs who had a mishap with his Cayman while setting a track record at Birmingham the week prior obtained a new car for Road Atlanta. Some mechanical gremlins plagued him throughout the weekend however a couple podium finishes helped Wachs clinch the 2020 Stuttgart Cup Championship, repeating from 2019! In the 3.8 liter category, Atlanta local RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO #381 was unbeatable on his home track. But giving Assuncao a run for his money was IGT first-timer, FRANK VITIELLO #311 (SpeedSport Racing) who took a pair of second place finishes.
MARANELLO CUP – Ferraris
BENOIT BERGERON #127 (Etcetera Racing) returned to IGT competition at Road Atlanta in his Ferrari 458. Coming into the weekend with only a one-half point advantage in the Maranello Cup Championship over COLIN COHEN #15 (Norwood Auto Italia), the Ferrari category is the closest in the three IGT Championship categories. While Bergeron had slim victories over Cohen in the sprint races, both teamed up with pro drivers for Sunday’s enduro. Cohen co-drove with JASON HART and Bergeron with Canadian racing champion, JF DUMOULIN. It was the duo of Cohen and Hart who won their second enduro race of the season however, with double points on the line, Bergeron expended his championship lead slightly to five points. It will all come down to the final (and again double points) race at Daytona, December 11-13.
Updated September 22, 2020