AUSTIN, Texas (May 22, 2023) – In the latest rounds of GT America powered by AWS and Fanatec GT World Challenge America, RealTime Racing’s results did not match the team’s potential. Still, drivers Anthony Bartone and Andy Pilgrim took away plenty of positives from a weekend that didn’t necessarily look successful on paper.
In the 40-minute GT America races, Bartone is the sole driver, and Saturday’s race was an exercise in frustration for him. He started from third on the grid, but a cautious start dropped him down the order. He had the pace to be leading the race, but unfortunately the parts of the track where he was strongest were not conducive to passing.
“I tried to hold position at the start,” Bartone said. “I had some contact at NOLA (the previous race), so I was just trying to keep my nose clean and give everyone space. People were out there racing hard, but I was thinking about the checkered flag, not leading on the first or second lap.”
When the leaders in front of him started to battle, he was poised to take advantage of any mistakes or contact, but it didn’t happen and Bartone crossed the finish line in fifth.
“I think I had a lot more pace in certain areas, however, where I had runs weren’t in my opinion places for a 100 percent clean pass,” Bartone added. “Honestly, with the driving ahead of me I thought they were going to connect, and I’d drive around, but it never happened.”
Bartone’s Sunday GT America race showed promise early on. After starting fifth, he was up to third by the second lap in slightly damp conditions. Again, the battle for the lead in front of him was fierce, but this time there was contact. When two cars spun off track, Bartone slipped through into the lead. A full-course caution came out with his No. 427 Mercedes AMG-GT3 leading the way, but the track was getting wetter.
On the restart, Bartone got sideways exiting the last corner and was hit by another car.
“I’d like to say I was just overzealous but that wasn’t my game plan,” Bartone explained. “I wasn’t trying to hit the corner hard or anything. I just lost the rear. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did.”
Bartone was able to continue, but the handling on the car suffered. Thankfully, another full-course caution came out and the race finished behind the safety car. When the checkered flag came out Bartone was eighth.
“In this sport it’s a very fine line between too aggressive or too weak,” Bartone concluded. “That being said, the show was on in front of us and you have to maximize when stuff hits the fan, today we maximized that opportunity until the last restart.”
In Saturday’s GT World Challenge America race, where Bartone and Pilgrim share a car, Bartone started eighth overall but had to serve a drive-through penalty for contact early in his stint. The pit stop and driver change to Pilgrim was not flawless and thus Pilgrim went back out on track without anyone to fight for position. The team finished outside the overall top 10, but they did take home another win the Am category.
Sunday’s GT World Challenge America race had a strong potential for rain, but the precipitation was never enough to make the switch to wet tires.
“It got a little slippery, but not to the point where you couldn’t run,” said Pilgrim, who started the race. “You were maybe two seconds off what you were trying to run. You had to brake a tiny bit earlier because the ABS woke up.”
Pilgrim completed his opening stint without issue and handed the car over to Bartone. Upon exiting the pit box, Bartone was unable to engage the pit-speed limiter and was hit with a drive-through penalty. This put him to the back of the pack, but he made up for it by turning impressive and consistent lap times, ensuring the leaders never had a chance of catching him.
“We were waiting for a yellow but it never came,” Bartone said. “We were pretty far back. I took a penalty. I did qualifying pace from there and tried to extend the gap to the leader just for a measurement of how we’re doing.”
When the race came to a close, RealTime collected its sixth-straight Am-category win.
“For Anthony this has just been a great learning experience and he did fantastic today,” Pilgrim said. “A lot of times he was the second-fastest car on track including the Pro-Am cars and even some of the Pro-Pro cars he was faster than. I’m so proud of the kid.”
RealTime continues its 2023 SRO season June 16 – 18 at VIRginia International Raceway.