Lawson Aschenbach speeds at Sonoma
GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach won the final race of the 2017 season at Sonoma. | Photo: Pirelli World Challenge

Blackdog Speed Shop’s Lawson Aschenbach capped off a championship-winning Pirelli World Challenge GTS season with a victory at Sonoma Raceway.

Aschenbach trailed pole sitter Ian James for the first 33 minutes of the race.

Bob Michaelian into wall at Sonoma
Bob Michealian suffered a hard crash into the wall coming out of Turn 11 at Sonoma Raceway. | Photo: Ben Hinc / The Apex

The tide turned when a caution came out for the No. 45 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 after 17 minutes of green-flag running. The car of Bob Michaelian made hard contact with the inside wall coming out of Turn 11. The impact pushed the barrier back and caused significant damage to the car.

Following a lengthy yellow-flag period, the race went back to green with 17 minutes to go. Aschenbach made an excellent restart and passed James up the hill to take the race lead.

Aschenbach looked to have the pace to hold off James and cruise to the checkered flag. However, a second caution came out for Tony Gaples whose No. 11 Blackdog Camaro GT4.R made hard contact going through the esses.

The amount of track damage coupled with the debris field left in the wake of Gaples’ car prompted PWC officials to throw a red and checkered flag, bringing an early end to the final GTS race of 2017.

James finished second in the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT. He won the first race of the weekend ahead of Martin Barkey.

Rodrigo Baptista of Flying Lizard Motorsports completed the podium in the No. 3 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR, an improvement on his Race 1 performance where he finished fifth.

Nate Stacy finished fourth behind his teammate in the No. 14 Flying Lizard Porsche while Drew Staveley rounded out the top five in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55.

Gaples finished first in GTS Am followed by the No. 04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4 of George Kurtz and the No. 62 KPR McLaren of Mark Klenin.

The class will be out of action until the 2018 season commences on the streets of St. Petersburg in March.

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