NEW ORLEANS (May 1, 2023) – It was another busy race weekend for RealTime Racing as it ran in both Fanatec GT World Challenge America and in GT America powered by AWS. Though there were some missed opportunities, the team came away from NOLA Motorsports Park with a pair of top-10 finishes and two victories.
The weekend saw a RealTime sweep of the Am-category in GT World Challenge America, where Bartone and Pilgrim share the No. 43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for a 90-minute race.
Saturday’s race was especially nerve-wracking, as heavy rain forced the series to delay the start by two hours. The rain stopped, but the track was still plenty wet when it was finally time to race. Bartone had never driven in the rain before, but handled it like a pro, with zero issues. By the time he handed the car over to Pilgrim, a dry line was well established, and slick tires went on the car. The RealTime Mercedes went on to be the uncontested winner in the Am-category.
“It was my first time driving in the wet,” Bartone said. “I think it went pretty well and I’m happy about that and happy we brought the car home in one piece.”
For Sunday’s GT World Challenge America race, Pilgrim took the start and kept his nose clean until it was time to pit and put Bartone in. From there, two full-course caution periods dotted the second half of the race, but Bartone managed the restarts well and avoided the carnage happening in other categories to finish ninth overall and get the Am-class win once again.
“The kid has a ton of natural talent,” Pilgrim said of Bartone. “He’s going to blow by me pretty soon but I’ll still be in his ear. That’s my job; to make him as fast as he can possibly be.”
Bartone scored his first GT America victory at Sonoma Raceway earlier in the month and was eyeing another trip to the top step of the podium in NOLA. It wasn’t meant to be, however, with a drive-through penalty in each race setting him back.
In Saturday’s GT America race, Bartone had a great start, making his way up to fourth. He then spent the first half of the race trying to put distance between himself and reigning series champion George Kurtz behind him. When the leaders hit traffic in the closing moments of the race, Bartone was ready to pounce and picked up two spots in one corner. Moments later, he found himself on the losing end of a similar scenario and fell to fifth. He made a bold effort on the final lap to grab fourth, but it resulted in contact. Thankfully Bartone was able to continue and crossed the line in fifth.
After the checkered flag, race officials deemed Bartone responsible for the last lap contact and issued him a 44-second drive-through penalty, which moved him to seventh in the final results.
Sunday’s GT America race held so much potential for Bartone, who started third thanks to his fastest race lap in Saturday’s event. An early drive-through penalty for improper pre-grid procedures, however, put Bartone on the back foot for most of the race. Despite this the newcomer forged ahead gallantly and was able to take the checkered flag in eighth.
“We had some ups and downs this weekend,” Bartone said. “At the end of the day as long we learned something, that’s the objective. In GT America Race One, I made a mistake and then in Race Two we got a penalty. I just went back out and worked on my race craft and got some guys. In Fanatec World Challenge we keep refining the car and getting more seat time for the future.”
“There are plenty of positives to take away from the weekend, including Anthony’s impressive pace and our top-10 finish overall in the second GT World Challenge America race,” team owner Peter Cunningham said. “This was a challenging weekend for everyone with the weather and a couple of penalties, but everyone responded well, and I think we’ve continued to improve with this new car, so we are very excited looking ahead to COTA.”
RealTime Racing is back at it in two weeks when it heads to Circuit of the America (COTA) May 19 – 21, in Austin, Texas.