ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. (August 21, 2023) – RealTime Racing staged an epic comeback at its home track, Road America, to take its first Fanatec GT World Challenge Pro-Am podium of the season. Drivers Anthony Bartone and Adam Christodoulou finished third courtesy of a final lap pass by Bartone.
The thrill of Sunday’s GT World Challenge race made up for the heartbreak of Saturday’s. Bartone had qualified the No. 43 Mercedes AMG-GT3 fourth overall for Saturday’s contest, but the race ended in the pits for RealTime with a broken transmission.
On Sunday it initially looked like the bad luck would continue, when Christodoulou reported a loose wheel and had to pit early to tighten it. This sent him to the back of the field. The 90-minute race got intense after pit stops and driver changes. Multiple accidents, penalties and mechanical failures shuffled the order. By staying out of the drama, Bartone steadily picked up positions and when the white flag came out, he was up to fourth in Pro-Am.
“The second it went yellow, I started to do the math, and I thought it would be a long shot,” Bartone said. “On the last lap, they told me ‘in front of you is P3,’ so I was on his gearbox the whole time and I knew I had to make it work somewhere. I was faster in the back section, but I had to pick the right place, so what’s better than in the last corner.”
Indeed, Bartone pulled alongside the No. 007 Aston Martin exiting Canada Corner and dove to the inside at Turn 14 to claim the final podium position.
“I really, really wanted to get on the podium with RealTime and I wanted to do it with Adam, because everyone has been working so hard to get us there,” Bartone added. “I don’t think there’s a better place to do it than Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.”
Christodoulou likened the third-place finish to a win considering the difficulties the team faced in the first half of the race.
“The start was tricky,” Christodoulou said. “The BMW blasted by us on the straights. They’re really quick on the straight, we’re really fast in the corners, but you can’t overtake on the corner. We needed that safety car, because the front wheel worked its way loose and I thought our chance was over.
“With 60 minutes to go we were last, but we stayed out of trouble and chipped away. To get the final podium spot, on the last lap, on the last corner… it doesn’t get much sweeter than that. I feel like we won! Huge thank you to all the RealTime guys and their hard work this weekend. I’m so glad we could make this happen at their home track.”
In addition to his GT World Challenge driving duties, Bartone once again partook in both GT America races in the No. 427 Mercedes AMG-GT3.
He had a stellar qualifying performance, claiming the outside of the front row for Saturday’s race. He was unable to capitalize on the premium starting spot when he got swallowed up on the start. He recovered and was into fourth before a full-course yellow halted his progress. The race ended behind the safety car, which meant it was P4 for Bartone.
Sunday’s race saw Bartone drop a spot at the start, but with zero full-course cautions, he reeled in third place and nearly took the final podium spot in the closing laps. Unfortunately, he ran out of time to make the pass stick and had to settle for fourth again.
“It’s clear that at certain moments I have the pace to be in the front of that field,” Bartone concluded. “It’s about putting it all together for a race stint. This weekend I struggled a little bit with the pace over the whole stint in GT America. That was on me, because the car was perfect, and I didn’t maximize what they gave me.”
Next up for RealTime is Sebring International Raceway, September 22 – 24 in central Florida. All races will be streamed live on youtube.com/@gtworld.