A little more than seven months after signing with ANSA Motorsports to drive the No. 13 ANSA KTM X-Bow GT4 in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS championship, Brett Sandberg finished third in round 18 of the 50-minute sprint race last Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships Finale Weekend presented by Nissan. The driver from Allendale, New Jersey, clinched his first Pirelli World Challenge GTS Driver’s Championship. It was an historic championship win, not only for Sandberg, but also for the ANSA Motorsports team, which was competing in its first season in the very disputed GTS championship.
Thanks to an outstanding ANSA Motorsports crew that did a fabulous job preparing the three KTM X-Bows that the team fielded all season, Sandberg was able to showcase his exceptional driving skills all year long and score an impressive collection of three wins, 11 podium finishes and nine pole positions.
ANSA Motorsports was also competing for the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GTS team championship at the season finale. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Bill Ziegler, driving the No. 9 Swisher Racing KTM X-Bow, was on his A game on Saturday in race 1 and scored a top-ten finish, the No. 12 car, driven by Jason Wolfe, suffered an unexpected technical issue during race 1 and was not able to score any valuable points for the championship. Moreover, the No. 12 was retired after race 1 and did not compete in round 19, leaving Roush Performance Road Racing with the team’s championship. ANSA Motorsports finished second in the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GTS Team’s Championship, only 56 points behind the champion team.
ANSA Motorsports introduced the KTM X-Bow GT4 race car to North America with a win in the FARA Miami 500 just a year ago, and all season long, scored great results with drivers Brett Sandberg, Bill Ziegler, Dore Chaponick Jr., Hugh Plumb and Jason Wolfe. That helped the Austrian manufacturer, KTM, win its biggest auto-racing success so far and its first big recognition in North America.
Following race 1, Sandberg was really happy, but took some time to settle down and realize that he had clinched his first Pirelli World Challenge championship.
“I don’t think it has really set in yet on winning the championship,” said Sandberg. “I was focused on trying to run a clean and smart race. We had real battle with the car all weekend. We finally got it working pretty well before qualifying. I didn’t want to get into any fights with anyone, as we knew the situation with the point championship. Overall, ANSA Motorsports, Reiter Engineering and KTM did an incredible job developing the car and making it a contender throughout the year. It has not been easy at all. We have had hurdle after hurdle and issues that we didn’t expect. The crew guys worked their rear ends off all year to improve the car. So this title is credit to the team’s hard work”.
Following two Pirelli World Challenge TCA championship titles in 2014 and 2015, Jason Wolfe was given a chance to make his debut in the GTS championship at Laguna Seca, where he made his first racing appearance with ANSA Motorsports’ KTM team. The youngster from Ohio was impressive and promises to be one of the top contenders to win in 2017.
Wolfe ran very competitively all weekend. Since he was not able to compete in race 2, because his 12 car was not available, ANSA Motorsports’ team owners, Alain Nadal and Patrick Otto Madsen, decided to enter the No. 13 KTM, driven all season by Sandberg, in the second SprintX GT race on Sunday, so Wolfe could get another chance to shine, and he did. Wolfe and co-driver Sandberg started last on the SprintX grid, since they did not participate in qualifying. Sandberg started the one-hour race, and Wolfe finished it. The duo missed the GTS podium by less than 4 of seconds. The No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM finished 4th on Sunday afternoon. The VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger award was issued to SprintX GTS Sandberg and Wolfe for their combined reclamation of 12 positions over the course of the race.
ANSA Motorsports was very busy at Laguna Seca, with three KTM X-Bow GT4 race cars entered in rounds 18 and 19 and one Porsche 911 GT3-Cup entered in the final round of the 2016 SprintX championship for Ludovico Manfredi and Jonathan Summerton.
Manfredi, who did not compete all season, was at his best driving the 911 Porsche, and Summerton did an impressive job setting up the car with the ANSA engineer. Summertonwas fast and reliable as expected and really helped bring an encouraging result for ANSA in preparation for 2017.
It was the first time ANSA Motorsports raced in the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX series, and the team did an excellent job of understanding the complex rules and regulations. Manfredi and Summerton were fast all weekend behind the wheel of the No. 27 ANSA Porsche 911 GT3-Cup, entered in the GT-Cup class. The two racers scored two third-place finishes and demonstrated that, with a few adjustments, the Porsche GT3-Cup has great potential for the 2017 season.
Now that the 2016 GTS championship is over, ANSA Motorsports is already working on selecting drivers for the 2017 season. The goal for ANSA Motorsports team owners is to continue to have a strong presence in the Pirelli World Challenge GT4 and SprintX GT series and to take the entire ANSA organization to the next level.
The Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship rounds 18 and 19 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will air on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m. EDT.
The Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will air on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m. EDT.
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Photos by Chris Green Copyright.