Baptista Takes GTS Race 1 in Utah

Baptista corners in Flying Lizard Porsche
Rodrigo Baptista won the first of two GTS Races in 2017 at the Utah Motorsports Campus. | Photo: Pirelli World Challenge

Rodrigo Baptista started on pole for Flying Lizard Motorsports and survived two cautions and an early challenge from Martin Barkey’s KTM to take the victory in the first of two Pirelli World Challenge GTS races at the Utah Motorsports Campus.

Baptista’s pole-winning performance allowed him to get a jump at the start of the 50-minute race but Barkey, who started third, remained close throughout the first 40 minutes. Two cautions for on-track incidents did not help Baptista’s case with the field brought to together on both restarts.

At the halfway point, Jeff Courtney, Ian James and Nate Stacy completed the top five in Maserati, Panoz and Ginetta machinery, respectively, behind Baptista and Barkey.

Courtney speeds in Maserati at Utah
Jeff Courtney surged to the second position in the first 2017 GTS race in Utah. | Photo: Pirelli World Challenge

The race’s second caution came seven minutes past the halfway point to set up a restart and sprint to the finish with just over seven minutes remaining. On the restart, Baptista retained the lead in the No. 3 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR while Barkey dropped back allowing Courtney to surge to the second position in the No. 99 Maserati GT4.

Barkey continued to drop back, allowing Mid-Ohio winner Ian James to move into podium contention behind the wheel of the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT.

Baptista grabbed the white flag and sped to the checkers without a serious challenge from Courtney, crossing the finish line with a one-second advantage over the JCR Motorsports Maserati.

Behind Courtney, James completed the overall podium while Barkey hung on for a fourth-place finish in the No. 80 KTM X-Bow GT4. Drew Stavely rounded out the top five in the No. 12 Ginetta G55.

James exits corner at Utah
Ian James finished third in the first GTS race at the Utah Motorsports Campus. | Photo: Pirelli World Challenge

George Kurtz finished sixth overall and first in the GTS Am subclass in the No. 04 McLaren 570S GT4. Frank Gannett and Mark Klenin completed the GTSA podium in the eighth and 10th positions, respectively.

The GTS competitors will be back in action on Sunday, Aug. 13 at 10:30 a.m. MDT for the second race of the weekend in Utah. Live streaming will be available at world-challenge.com.

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