GRANTSVILLE, Utah (August 12, 2017) – Rodrigo Baptista had never seen Utah Motorsports Campus until this week but you would have thought he was a regular with his dominating performance Saturday in the 50-minute GTS sprint race in the Security National Mortgage Supercar Grand Prix of Utah, round 13 in the Pirelli World Challenge championships.
Baptista, a young driver from Barcelona, Spain, started on the pole position and piloted his No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR sports car to his third Pirelli World Challenge GTS victory at the 3.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road circuit southwest of Salt Lake City.
A double race winner last May at Lime Rock Park, hadn’t seen UMC until the Thursday testing session but picked up the course quickly by scoring his first pole Saturday morning then leading every tour of the track in the 22-lap contest.
“It was a really good race and the car was almost perfect,” said Baptista. “It would slide a little bit when I pushed hard, but the KTM and the Maserati behind me were really fast. I tried to push to the max, and we did it again. Thanks to everyone at Flying Lizard and Porsche for all their hard work. We had a great car out there today. We’ll try to do it again tomorrow (Sunday).
Veteran Jeff Courtney of Milwaukee, Wisc., made a great comeback after a tough weekend at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago in the No. 99 RecStuff.com/KENDA Maserati GT4, securing the runner-up position Saturday to Baptista. Courtney also set the fastest race lap Saturday and will start from the pole Sunday in the Round 14 50-minute race set for 10:30 a.m. MDT.
“We’ve been knocking on the door but things haven’t been going our way like everyone else up here,” said Courtney. “We have a pretty fast hot rod for lap times but raceability can be an issue so we got some good breaks on the track at just the right time today. I’m happy to be up here because the crew has been working really hard. I owe the sponsors for Mid-Ohio because it was a pretty important deal for us. I feel like I let them down there a little bit but the conclusion today is awesome. So I look forward to tomorrow(Sunday).”
Completing the podium (top-three) Saturday in the GTS event was three-time race winner Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT.
“The BoP has affected us a little bit but the car was great,” said James, who won twice at Road America and one at Mid-Ohio this year. “We started seventh, then got a couple of spots back early on. I got all the way up to just behind Jeff (Courtney) but stalled there. I couldn’t quite find a run on him and couldn’t get by him. We had a good race for many laps. Rodrigo (Baptista) checked out since the Porsche was in a different class today. That was his turn to win today. He led from the front from pole but we’re super happy to get back on the podium.”
Rounding out the top-five were Martin Barkey of Huntsville, Ont., Can., in the No. 80 Mantella Autosports KTM X-Bow GT4 and local Drew Staveley of Salt Lake City in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55.
GTS Am point leader George Kurtz of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in the No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG McLaren 570S captured his sixth consecutive GTS Am race to extend the series point margin.
Second in the GTS Am division was Frank Gannett of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in the No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 followed by Mark Klenin of Lone Tree, Colo., in the No. 62 KPR/Tender Belly McLaren 570S, Tony Gaples of Libertyville, Ill., in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R and Adam Merzon of Greenwich, Conn., in the No. 017 Case-It Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
GTS overall point leader Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., suffered a flat left rear tire midway through the 22-lap event and was forced to place ninth in Round 13.
Sunday’s Round 14 competition will be live-streamed from World-Challenge.com and MotorTrendOnDemand.com for free.