GRANTSVILLE, Utah (August 12, 2017) – The Acura NSX GT3 team of Peter Kox of The Netherlands and Mark Wilkins of Toronto, Ont., Can., held off the challenge of the Ferrari of Daniel Mancinelli and Niccolo Schiro of Italy to score the first win for the new Acura sports car in the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX 60-minute race Saturday at Utah Motorsports Campus in the Security National Mortgage Supercar Grand Prix of Utah.
Driving the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3, Kox and Wilkins’ victory was the sixth different team and manufacturer in the first six SprintX races of the 2017 PWC campaign. Round 4 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was rained out and will be made up at the Circuit of the America on Sept. 1.
The Acura victory was the first in PWC competition with the new NSX GT3 model which debuted this year in the season opener at St. Petersburg. It was the first win for Acura in PWC since Ryan Eversley took the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura TLX to victory last year at Road America.
Kox, the veteran racer who developed the new Acura NSX GT3 last year, started from the pole position Saturday and fought off Mancinelli’s challenges in the first half of the contest before turning the Acura over to Wilkins, a former GTS winner at Utah. Wilkins and Schiro put on a sensational battle with the young Italian trying to grab the lead various times late in the race around the 3.048-mile, 14-turn permanent circuit.
However, Wilkins was able to hold off Schiro by 0.228 seconds at the checkered flag in the closest SprintX race of the season. Round 8 will take place Sunday at 12:30 p.m. MDT at Utah Motorsports Campus.
“It’s nice to get this win for Acura,” said Kox. “I think it’s important to note that the competition has been out there longer than this Acura and that we’re catching up so quickly. So, thanks goes out to RealTime Acura and to HPD to give us the opportunity to drive this car. In this race, I had to concentrate on the start because this is the first time that I’ve done it with the flag from the pole. I think I just timed it well. I knew it was crucial to get into the first corner first and then I had the luxury of the race line through the first section. It’s very rewarding to be selected to the program and then to be involved in the development was an honor. Then to even race the car this year with RealTime was really a unique opportunity. Finally, to get to take the trophy home is great.”
“I have a love-hate relationship with this track,” said Wilkins. “Peter and RealTime Racing have done a great job with this car all weekend. Throughout the season we’ve just been developing it. We’re plugging away at it, one race at a time. It helped that we had the right track position. I was a little bit nervous hopping in there with the pressure to keep it up front. I just focused forward and I had a great car to do that. So, thanks to RealTime for that and we’ll just try to keep it up tomorrow. It’s a great win for the Acura NSX and the team and I really enjoy working with these guys.”
Third Saturday in the Pro/Pro division went to current Overall GT point leader Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and veteran Jorg Bergmeister of Germany in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R followed by Ricky Taylor of Apopka, Fla., and four-time GT champion Johnny O’Connell of Flowery Branch, Fla., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. Rounding out the top-five Saturday at Utah was Eversley of Atlanta, Ga., and Tom Dyer of Corte Madera, Calif., in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3.
In the Pro/Am category, the duo of Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., and Jan Heylen of Tampa, Fla., scored their fourth SprintX win of the year in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 over GTA point leader James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., and Mathieu Jaminet of France in the No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Completing the podium in Pro/Am was the local team of John Potter of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Marco Seefried of Austria in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi RS8 LMS.
“I’m happy to be leading the championship and extend the points today,” said Schein. “That was our goal. We knew that the Nissan was quite a bit ahead of us so we wanted to stay ahead of the GMG car. Jan drove great and Wright Motorsports gave us a great car to work with, the best it’s been so far this weekend. We’ll try to do it again tomorrow.”
“I wasn’t happy with the setup yesterday but the team did a great job and the car was a lot better today,” said Heylen. “The track is very different from most of the places we go to so it’s a bit of a challenge to set up the car. But I’m really happy with the progress we made from yesterday and the day before. We didn’t think that we would be sitting up here so it was a nice job and team effort from the team. What I really like about the series is that you’re always on – there’s never just a time where you’re just cruising around. It’s really fun, as it’s a bit of a switch from doing the long endurance races.”
Other class winners in the SprintX division Saturday at Utah Motorsports Campus was Henrique Cisneros and Jonathon Ziegelman in the No. 30 MOMO/NGT Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3 in Am/Am; Andy Lee and Erich Joiner in the No. 95 Tool Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in GT Cup Pro/Am; Joe Toussaint and Cory Friedman in the No. 90 Autometrics Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in GT Cup Am/Am; Adam Merzon and Trent Hindman in the No. 017 Case-It Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in GTS Pro/Am; and Jason Hart and Matt Travis in the No. 47 NOLAsport Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
Sunday’s Round 8 SprintX event is set for 12:30 p.m. MDT at Utah Motorsports Campus. The event will be live-streamed for free at World-Challenge.com and MotorTrendOnDemand.com.