ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 7, 2023) – SRO GT America powered by AWS veterans RealTime Racing came away with three top-five finishes in their first-ever race event with Mercedes-AMG GT3 machinery last weekend. Drivers Anthony Bartone and Andy Pilgrim showed great speed and composure on the streets of St. Petersburg.
For the 2023 season, RealTime Racing has teamed up with Bartone Bros Racing to run the No. 43 and No. 427 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in GT America. Each GT America event consists of two 40-minute sprint races without pit stops or driver changes.
In Friday’s race that finished as the sun set on St. Petersburg, Bartone started and finished sixth. Bartone displayed the perfect combination of aggression and cautiousness, knowing the perils of street course racing and the importance of starting Saturday’s race with a healthy car.
“I know what typically happens in Turn 1 here, so I was just going to stay to the outside,” Bartone said. “If someone gets by me that is ok. Before the green flag those guys were getting into each other on the pace lap. I was just going to stay back and be careful. Then in Turn 3 it all broke loose, there was a tire on the track. I think I lost two positions at the start and then gained two from that crash. I was in fifth and Andy [Pilgrim] was fourth at the restart. I wanted to just stay with him, don’t do anything silly and make sure we both maximized our points and bring the cars back in one piece.”
Like his teammate, Pilgrim anticipated and successfully avoided the chaos to go from seventh at the start to fourth at the finish.
“I gave myself a little extra breathing room at the start,” Pilgrim said. “I had a feeling that Jason [Daskalos] was going to be coming. He has been here, he won the race last year, and I knew he would be coming. At the exit of Turn 3 there was chaos. There was smoke everywhere and a tire bouncing on the track. I had to do a quick flick to miss the tire and the wall. Then two guys got together in Turn 4, and I had to really get in the brakes and the ABS. It was a great race. Anthony [Bartone] was pushing me around and he was driving really well. He was quicker than me in some places and I was quicker than him in sections and then the traffic came into play.”
The grid for the Race Two on Saturday was set by each driver’s fastest lap from Friday’s race. This put Pilgrim fifth and Bartone fourth on the grid. Saturday’s race was slowed by two, long full-course cautions. In the limited green running, however, Bartone set the fastest lap of the race and was able to hold off his teammate to finish fourth, one spot ahead of Pilgrim.
“Not a very exciting race,” Bartone said. “We were all out there for 30 minutes under yellow. The green laps I had were good. We were pretty spread out at the front. I had Andy [Pilgrim] behind me, and we were able to bring the cars back and put them on the trailer in perfect shape for Sonoma. Andy won the Master’s Class in both races and I set fast race lap today, so we load a few trophies and know we have good Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars going forward.”
Pilgrim agreed it was a strong start to the season.
“It’s a win when we can load two both cars on the trailer in perfect condition after two street races,” Pilgrim said. “We also got two first place Master’s Class trophies on the truck too. I completely forgot about the Master’s Class from last year. My thought to myself is ‘this isn’t in the AARP manual,’ but I am happy to win them! Anthony’s [Bartone] progression this weekend was measurable, with him posting the fast lap of the race today. Thanks to the Bartone Bros and the RealTime crew for giving us fast cars this weekend.”
The strong results and flawless teamwork in the first outing with Mercedes-AMG showed how dynamic RealTime Racing is, taking on a new manufacturer and partner in Bartone Bros Racing.
“I’m sure many were surprised to see RealTime running two Mercedes in GT America this year,” team owner Peter Cunningham said. “It was a new challenge that we knew we were equipped to undertake and an opportunity we wanted to pursue. This is our 30th year with Red Line Oil. And now our debut with Mercedes and Bartone Bros Racing is certainly something we can build on.”
Next up for RealTime Racing in GT America is Sonoma Raceway, March 30 – April 2.