SEBRING, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2023) – Under the blazing Florida sun, RealTime Racing soldiered through a difficult weekend at Sebring International Raceway but still came within striking distance of a podium finish. Drivers Anthony Bartone and Adam Christodoulou earned top-10 finishes across the board with a highlight of fourth-place in Sunday’s Fanatec GT World Challenge America race.
Bartone qualified fifth for both GT America sprint races. In Saturday’s race he hit cruise control from the word go. Bartone held steady in fifth as second, third and fourth battled ahead of him. In the end none of it would create an opportunity to advance and the No. 427 Mercedes AMG-GT3 finished where it started in fifth.
In Sunday’s GT America race, Bartone was under attack straight away and had to cede a spot on the opening lap. He held on to sixth from there, until a late-race error cost him position as he took the checkered flag in seventh.
“I was trying to stay with the pack and was pushing my maximum pace,” Bartone said. “Eventually I made a mistake.”
For Saturday’s 90-minute Fanatec GT World Challenge presented by AWS race, Bartone started the race second in the Pro-Am category. Immediately after the start, several cars made contact in Turn One. Bartone was one of them and spun out as a result. From the back of the field, Bartone did his best to make up positions. Despite zero caution periods, he was able to race forward to sixth in class when it was time for pit stops.
“We just focused on keeping the car in one piece and staying out of any more trouble,” Bartone said. “If anything happened ahead of us, we’d be ready to take advantage.”
Christodoulou climbed aboard and was already up a position as he returned to the race track thanks to a quick pit stop from the RealTime crew. The Brit held on to fifth but couldn’t stop the competition from catching him in the closing laps of the race. Ultimately, he drove the No. 43 Mercedes to a seventh-place finish.
RealTime’s final event of the weekend, Sunday’s GT World Challenge race, was an uphill battle from the start, but nearly ended in a podium finish. Christodoulou started from the back row and couldn’t make up much ground. The No. 43 was classified in seventh when he handed it over to Bartone.
After returning to the track, Bartone reeled in the next group of cars that were fighting for position. When two made contact in front of him, Bartone knew exactly what to do and picked up two positions in one corner. From there he faced no challengers on his way to a fourth-place finish.
“We had a great pit stop from the team that gained us three seconds,” Bartone said. “I was waiting for someone to make a mistake and luckily it happened at the end and we finished fourth.”
“This weekend was challenging for sure,” Christodoulou added. “I think not being able to do the test last week because of other commitments meant that we started on the back foot. We made changes and got closer and closer, but maybe a little too late. We ended up with a result of fourth on Sunday, which was better than expected considering the qualifying position.”
Sebring marked the end of the season for RealTime as further schedule conflicts will prevent the team from participating in the season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“This was a season with a lot of challenges and unknowns for RealTime, but watching the team acclimate to the Mercedes and seeing Anthony’s [Bartone] progress made it a rewarding one,” Team Owner Peter Cunningham said. “I think this year proved that RealTime can adapt quickly while still performing at the top level.”