ALTON, Va. (June 20, 2023) – In its first Fanatac GT World Challenge powered by AWS race in the Pro-Am category this season, RealTime Racing came away with a top-five finish and fastest race lap at VIRginia International Raceway. Newcomer Adam Christodoulou joined full-season driver Anthony Bartone in the 90-minute endurance races, while Bartone took home a pair of seventh-place finishes on his own in the GT America series.
Having previously run as the only Am-category entrant in Fanatac GT World Challenge thus far, the addition of Mercedes ace Christodoulou bumped the No. 43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 into Pro-Am, the largest and most competitive category in the championship.
Saturday’s World Challenge race was a rollercoaster for the team. Bartone qualified the car third on the Pro-Am grid and held his own on the start, but a fuel pump failure mid-way through his stint cause him to drop rapidly. He was able to rebound to fifth however, before handing the car over to Christodoulou.
“I exited the Oak Tree turn in third and the car laid down, lost power,” Bartone said. “I had to switch fuel pumps and by then I had lost a handful of places.”
In clear air once he returned to the circuit, Christodoulou soon turned the quickest lap of the race, which would stand all the way to the checkered flag. His pace helped RealTime hold on to fifth place all the way to the finish.
“The car felt really good,” Christodoulou said. “It’s a shame we had a little glitch that cost us 10 or 15 seconds. We’ve been working really hard all week and I think we could have had a podium there, but we’ll try again tomorrow.”
Sunday’s World Challenge race was tame in comparison for RealTime as the No. 43 started seventh in the hands of Christodoulou and finished seventh with Bartone behind the wheel.
“We had a good weekend with some small things costing us track position,” Bartone said. “I had an issue with the pedal settings in this afternoon’s race, that was more of an annoyance than an issue. I was happy with our performance after Adam [Christodoulou] got shove off in Turn One at the start.”
“It’s been a character-building weekend to say the least,” Christodoulou said. “We definitely deserved a podium this weekend. The pace was there. We had a bit of contact in Turn One, sort of got used as a brake, which put us back a few positions. We had some great fights though and I’m looking forward to getting back in, in a few weeks.”
Both GT America races held so much promise at the start, but Bartone was unable to capitalize on his impressive qualifying performance when both races were repeatedly slowed by full-course cautions.
In Saturday’s 40-minute GT America race Bartone was up to P2 after the second full-course yellow and was able to hold his own on the following restarts. It was Bartone himself that caused the final safety car period, however, after sliding off track at South Bend and hitting the tire barrier. The race ended under yellow with Bartone’s No. 427 Mercedes-AMG GT3 classified in seventh.
On Sunday, Bartone started the GT America race from second on the grid and was able to pull away from the rest of the field while giving chase to the leader. Shortly after setting the fastest lap of the race at the time, a full-course yellow was issued. On the restart, South Bend bit Bartone once again and he slid wide, letting several cars through. Thankfully, this time, Bartone saved it and was able to continue, eventually finishing seventh.
Coming away from VIR with top-10 finishes in every race is confidence inspiring for the team, especially the fifth-place finish and fastest race lap in GT World Challenge Pro-Am.
“This was a really strong weekend for RealTime,” team owner Peter Cunningham said. “The pace from both Adam [Christodoulou] and Anthony [Bartone] is very impressive and with a little luck we might have come away with a podium this weekend. As Adam settles in with the team and Anthony continues to learn his race craft, I think we have every reason to be excited for what the rest of the season has to bring.”
Next up, GT World Challenge will head to RealTime’s home track; Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 18 – 20