The Gathering of Tweakers Endurance Series returned to action last weekend for the second round of the season at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. After being swept up in a late-race crash during the first race at Road America, KRT Motorsport was looking for redemption in the 3 Hours of Imola.
The comeback trail started with a solid second-place qualifying effort by Karl Modig, putting him on the front row of the GTC class starting grid next to polesitter Mika Eshuis in the Team Buschfink Racing Ruf C-Spec.
In the first stint of the race, Karl, Mika, and Black Adder Motorsport’s Joel Hafner engaged in an exciting three-way battle for first place. The lead changed hands several times as the trio fought both traffic and the tricky Imola circuit, resulting in occasional off-tracks particularly through the Acque Minerali section.
At the first pit stop, Karl led Joel and Mika into the pits, and while the other two teams kept their starting drivers in the car, KRT swapped out Karl for Corey Davis. As he got up to speed, Joel got past to take the lead while Corey and Mika battled for second place.
Late in the stint, with Corey running third and a pit stop approaching, the KRT team called an audible. Needing a splash of fuel and a short stint at some point in the race, and with Davis fastest on older tires and a light fuel load, they pulled him in the pits on lap 59 for a quick fuel fill.
The competition made their stops in the next few laps, opting for full pit service and driver changes. That put KRT into the race lead with Corey pushing hard to build the 20-second gap even further. After a short 11-lap stint, he pulled the #380 C-Spec back into the pits on lap 70 for the final stop.
Karl got back behind the wheel in fourth place and running nearly 50 seconds behind the leading Black Adder car. But with a mostly clear track ahead of him and running some of his fastest laps of the race, he pulled back nearly 15 seconds of that margin.
As the race entered the final 10 laps, the leading three cars hit the pits one-by-one for their splashes of fuel. Thanks to the team’s unconventional strategy and a solid drive during his stint, Karl emerged as the leader with a 12-second gap over second place, which seemed to catch the competition by surprise.
The final laps ticked off, this time without incident, and Karl crossed the finish line to score KRT’s first class victory in GES. Second place went to Black Adder and Buschfink took third, while KRT was joined on the top step of the podium by Prototype winners Simracing for Holland and GT3 winners Pure Racing Team.
The win tentatively moves KRT into a tie for third in points and the final qualifying spot for a bid in the NEO Endurance Series’ 24 Hours of Le Mans in March. Three races and 11 more hours of GES competition await before then, though, so there’s plenty more racing, battling, and, of course, strategizing to be done this season.