GRANTSVILLE, Utah (August 13, 2017) – Ian James and Drew Staveley, two of the most experienced drivers at Utah Motorsports Campus, put on a sensational two-man show Sunday in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Round 14 50-minute feature before James drove his No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT to his fourth 2017 victory.
After making an excellent standing start, James held off a charging Staveley, who pressured the Paradise Valley, Ariz., resident in his No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 GT4 for the last 14 circuits of the 24-lap contest at the popular 3.048-mile, 14-turn road course southwest of Salt Lake City.
James, a former driving instructor at UMC, and Staveley, a current UMC instructor, battled within tenths of each other before Ian was able to hold his advantage at the checkered flag. It was James’ fourth GTS win in the past six rounds including a double victory at Road America in June.
“A few races ago, we spent half a day practicing our standing starts and it’s been paying off,” said James. “We had a great start at Road America and here, so I managed to sneak into the lead there. It was just good racing today. We didn’t have the fastest car, but sometimes if you get out front and be consistent, that’s what counts. (Staveley) was right on my bumper and I couldn’t make any mistakes. My last lap was my fastest lap and I gave it everything I had. It was a fun race – no contact, clean racing, this is how racing should be.”
Staveley, who placed fifth in Saturday’s GTS feature, tracked down James from his fifth starting position but couldn’t make the pass to gain the lead. A newcomer to Pirelli World Challenge, Staveley enjoyed a spectacular racing weekend in front of friends and family in his hometown.
“We got passed early and went back to fourth or fifth,” said Staveley. “I got to Ian (James) on the first long green run and it was exciting. We were just going as fast as we could go. We were nose-to-tail all the way to the end. I thought maybe I might be able to have something for him, at least get alongside of him on the last two corners but he drove a great race and it was all I could do to be second. I’m super happy for me and the team. This is our home track and all our wives and friends are here so this is a win for our new Pirelli World Challenge team.”
Taking third Sunday in the GTS main event was 17-year-old Nate Stacy of Owasso, Okla., in the No. 14 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR with a brilliant last corner move to nip George Kurtz by inches at the line.
“I pulled off a pretty nice move on the inside of the Maserati (Jeff Courtney) and the Ginetta (Staveley) at the start and held it for a little while,” said Stacy. “We went three wide a few times into turn one which is generally not a great idea but we all raced clean. George (Kurtz) had the straightaway speed. He would hit the top of his motor and just barely keep him out of the reach of the Porsche in the breaks. I didn’t think I would hold it for long but it was a good race.
It’s definitely been a bit of a change from a big, heavy pony front-engine car (Mustang) to a mid-engine European sports car (Porsche).”
Kurtz, the GTS Am point leader, finished fourth overall Sunday but won his GTS Am category for the seventh consecutive race in the No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG McLaren 570S. The business entrepreneur made the start of the race by coming from ninth starting position to grab the overall lead in turn one.
“We had the perfect start,” said Kurtz. “It was a monster start and we cleared four rows. I slotted in behind Ian (James) and figured out I’ll just go with him and it worked out really well. We had to learn (the McLaren 570S) from the beginning of the season and we made some setup changes for today. We’re lucky to run with these guys since they’re all great drivers and I hope to harass them a couple more times before the end of the season. In that last turn, I got a little bit sideways and (Nate Stacy) got a run on me and it ended up within inches.”
Rounding the top-five at Utah Motorsports Campus Sunday was GTS point leader Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. Unofficially, Aschenbach leads James after 14 Rounds of GTS competition, 296-227.
Taking second in the GTS Am division at Utah was Staveley’s Ian Lacy Racing teammate Frank Gannett of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in the No. 24 Ginetta G55 followed by Adam Merzon of Greenwich, Conn., in the No. 017 Case-It Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
The Round 14 action will be televised on Wednesday, Aug. 23, on CBS Sports Network at 9 p.m. EDT. Rounds 15 and 16 for the GTS class will take place on Sept. 2-3 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tex.