St Pete GT4 America: Buford dominates, all-action race behind him
Jade Buford dominated the second Pirelli GT4 America Sprint stanza on the streets of St Petersburg in Florida on Sunday in his PF Racing Ford Mustang.
Buford, who threw away a likely victory yesterday when he outbraked himself while leading, started from pole due to his fastest lap in that race. He outdragged Saturday winner Ian James’s Panoz into Turn 1, with James holding off Spencer Pumpelly’s Porsche Caymen and a charging Michael Cooper (McLaren).
Gar Robinson repassed Cooper for fourth on lap two, and his Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro teammate Shane Lewis did likewise a few tours later.
Buford extended a 4-second lead by lap five, as James, Pumpelly, Robinson and Lewis duelled over second. Pumpelly dived past James at Turn 4 just before half distance of the 50-minute race, by which time Buford enjoyed a 6.5s lead, and James also tumbled back behind the two Camaros on the following tour.
The battle for second heated up yet further in the closing minutes as Robinson barged his way ahead of Pumpelly at Turn 1. Stewards ordered him to give the position back a lap later, but Robinson found a legal way through a few laps later.
Lewis completed the podium, passing Pumpelly at Turn 1 on the final lap, while James fell away to a distant fifth place.
An entertaining battle for Am class honours, and sixth overall, went the way of Preston Calvert's Panoz who pulled a last-lap pass on Jarett Andretti’s McLaren, with Marko Radisic (BMW) also jumping ahead of Andretti before spinning on the slowing-down lap!
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When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March, one of the European countries hit most hard was Italy – the home of Pirelli. As lockdown spread around the world, it also meant months of downtime for the brand’s American motorsports operation – before restarting a season that would be condensed into a rescheduling nightmare.
Spencer Pumpelly’s polesitting TRG Porsche 718 Cayman CS led from start to finish to clinch the Pirelli GT4 America win at Long Beach, holding off Ian James’ Panoz Avezzano in the closing laps.
SRO chief Stephane Ratel believes this year’s bumper grid for the revamped Blancpain GT World Challenge is due to a revised format that offers teams better value for their race programs.