Kuno Wittmer and Viper wins inaugural round of the US GT Championship.

Canadian Kuno Wittmer has won both races of the star-studded action-packed inaugural round of the North American Road Racing Association’s US GT Championship held on the weekend at Road Atlanta circuit, Braselton, GA.

A huge field of GT cars lined up for the inaugural round of the USGT Championship at Road Atlanta.

The Dodge Motorsports driver fended off furious competition, led by the MTI Racing Corvette of Reese Cox, from a maximum capacity 43 car field of BMWs, Corvettes, Mazdas, Porches, Ferraris and Vipers.

Both Wittmer and Cox also competed in the Whelen US Time Trial Championship during the weekend. Wittmer winning Saturday’s competition, Cox winning Sunday.

Kuno Wittmer commented; “I’m ecstatic to take home these fantastic trophies and to go down in history as the winner of the first US GT Championship race. And I believe the lap record holder, too.

This is one of the biggest fields I’ve ever raced against, with so many different marques. It’s true GT racing. We had a good battle on our hands with Reese Cox all weekend. I think the US GT Championship is going to be huge.

I’m sure the Dodge boys are happy we were triumphant over the Vettes and Porsches.
We (Dodge Motorsports) came here with a Dodge Viper Competition Coupe to test a new engine, but I can tell you I’ve just competed in one of the most enjoyable race meetings of my life.

Whether you’re a club racer or a pro, the US GT Championship is a blast.”

Famous faces in the paddock witnessing the inaugural US GT Championship race included Dodge President and CEO Ralph Gilles, Atlanta Falcons wide-receiver Dez White, award winning record producer Jim Jonsin, pro-skater Bucky Lasek, the voice of the US GT Championship and TV personality Tom Hnatiw, renowned sports car legend Randy Pobst, Mike Skeen and Australian racing driver Tom Drewer.
Local Reese Cox was Wittmer’s biggest challenger all weekend and started Saturday’s race in style, leading the pack to the green flag. He was joined on a revised front row by the ViperExchange.com sponsored Dodge Viper ACR-X of Ben Keating.

Saturday’s race began disastrously for Wittmer, however, who was lucky to make the start. After qualifying on pole position, his Dodge Viper Competition Coupe sustained damage from a blown tire while competing in the Whelen US Time Trail Championship. Dodge Motorsport worked franticly to repair the car, but Wittmer arrived late to the grid and was forced to start rear of field.

Wittmer charged hard and, in what was the drive of the weekend, powered through the entire field to catch Reese Cox’s Corvette in only six laps.

In the process Wittmer set the US GT Championship GT-Unlimited track lap record at Road Atlanta
with a blindingly fast 1:23.467 lap, averaging 110mph around the undulating 2.54 mile circuit.

Wittmer gained control of the race shortly after. A four lap caution period late in the race closed the field but, after fending off Cox on the restart, Wittmer took the flag and the GT-Unlimited class win.

Reese Cox finished 2nd, Jeff Courtney (Viper ACR-X) finished 3rd, while Ben Keating and David Leonard (Corvette) rounded out the top five in GT-Unlimited.

Jim Stout (Viper Competition Coupe) took out GT-1 from Doug Nash (Viper Competition Coupe) and rookie John Tober (Viper ACR AR Edition), who impressed by finishing on the podium in his first race.

The GT-2 class was won by Frank Barba (Viper Competition Coupe) from Steve Loudin (Viper Competition Coupe) and Fred Turner (Corvette).

Sunday saw Wittmer trade the number 10 Dodge Viper Competition Coupe with Dodge president and CEO, Ralph Gilles. The change in equipment had little effect on Wittmer who qualified first, this time in an ACR-X, with Ben Keating second and Reece Cox third.

A blistering start by Jim Garrett in his SpeedPromo/Motul sponsored car saw him briefly take the lead but by the end of the first lap Reese Cox was out in front, with Kuno Wittmer close behind. Mechanical issues later forced Garrett out of contention.

Oil created havoc for the field on lap six and handed the lead to Wittmer after Cox ran wide. Ben Keating suffered a similar fate while Billy Gropp (Viper ACR-X) capitalized on the chaos to move to third.

Reese Cox continued to push hard in his Corvette, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 13 with a time of 1:27.201, over half a second faster than Wittmer.

With 5 laps remaining Gilles, who had been moving up through the field all race, passed Gropp for third.
A lap later Gropp relinquished fourth overall to GT-1 competitor Jim Stout who set the USGTC GT-1 track lap record of 1:28.661.

The overall race and GT-Unlimited class win went to Kuno Wittmer. Reese Cox was 2nd and Ralph Gilles finished 3rd. Billy Gropp and George Whelen’s Marsh Racing Whelen Engineering Corvette finished 4th and 5th respectively in GT-Unlimited.

Jim Stout made it two wins from two starts in the GT-1 class, this time from Doug Nash and Fred Turner (Corvette).

Frank Barba won GT-2, and set the Road Atlanta USGTC GT-2 track lap record of 1:31.021, from Steve Loudin in his Tricel Honeycomb sponsored Dodge Viper Competition Coupe.

All the action was captured with over 30 GoPro cameras placed both on cars and trackside, and will be webcast exclusively on GoRacingTV.com, with commentary by the voice of the US GT Championship, television motorsport personality Tom Hnatiw.

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