Roman De Angelis got his quest for the Platinum Cup championship off to the best possible start at Barber Motorsports Park with a flag-to-flag victory in the 45-minute, season-opening race. Sunday’s race was a carbon copy for De Angelis in the No. 79 Racing for Children’s Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, securing a podium sweep for the young driver.
“I think people underestimate how difficult it is when you have that big of a lead, or just to pull it,” De Angelis said. “It’s not easy to be that quick. Even with a really good car, you still have to hit all your marks, all your braking zones and just focus on what you have to do. But the hard thing is, when there’s no one around you, just keeping focused on hitting all your marks. I think we executed pretty well and it’s a good learning experience.” With the April weekend sweep, De Angelis comes out of the season-opening doubleheader as the early leader in the Platinum Cup championship standings with the maximum 70 points.
Alan Metni scored his first overall top-five result ever and his second consecutive win in the Platinum Masters class. Metni, who drives the No. 99 GT3 Cup, is the reigning Platinum Masters champion and got his title defense off to a perfect start at Barber. “It feels great,” Metni said. “’I’ve never finished in the top five before and I’ve been looking forward to this time, so I’m really quite happy. It was tough to reel in the young kids, and I never did, so it was a little bit more than what I had today, but I’m learning. The gap’s getting closer and closer and I’m hoping to eventually bring it to them.”
In the Gold Cup class, Kurt Fazekas scored his first victory of the season in the No. 52 Porsche and preserved the sweep of all three class victories for Kelly-Moss Road and Race. Fazekas also earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award as the Gold Cup driver who improved the most overall positions from start to finish, gaining a total of nine spots in the 45-minute race and finishing 10th overall. “We were really fortunate to get there,” Fazekas said. “We had such a poor qualifying effort. It’s really difficult pedaling through all these young guys. I’m too old for this stuff. I’ve got to start working on cardio, because I’m winded. But I’m really happy to finish first. If you finish second, the only person who remembers that is who finished second. We’re pushing, we’ve got some points, we’re leading the championship, but there are 14 more races.”
The entire Kelly-Moss Road and Race team operated as a well oiled machine all weekend, which speaks to the amazing team dynamics and pre-season prep heading into Barber. A podium sweep makes a few long nights all the more worth it. Jeff Stone, President of KMR said, “To say our weekend at Barber Motorsports Park was amazing is an understatement. Starting with the new car roll out at Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, spending time with all the heroic children and their families fighting their battles with cancer along with the doctors and staff that work tirelessly to cure them. Next came the annual charity dinner at the Barber Motorsports Museum Friday night raising money of the hospital for cancer research. As always this was a fantastic event.”
Stone also added, “The entire KMR team arrived in Birmingham firing on all cylinders and ready for battle. To see Roman DeAngelis win Platinum overall, Alan Metni win Platinum Masters and then Kurt Fazekas start from near the back of the field, suffer a big hit in turn 1 and then drive his heavily damaged #52 car for 45 minutes to a solid second place was just amazing. Scott Welham and Dave Brule both put in strong performances as well. To do all this at Barber Motorsports Park with our friends from Racing for Children’s, Children’s Hospital of Alabama and our supporters and friends from Medical Properties Trust was a dream come true. This is going to be a truly exciting year for the entire IMSA GT3 paddock.”
NBCSN will have tape-delayed television coverage of the Barber Motorsports Park doubleheader on Friday, April 19 at 12 p.m. ET.
Next up for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is a pair of races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the weekend of May 3-5 as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.