Walsh, Ricca, and Groenke Master the Sebring Bumps in Race 1

Walsh, Ricca, and Groenke Master the Sebring Bumps in Race 1
  • Chris Walsh, Carrus Callas Raceteam Dominates in TCX
  • Jeff Ricca, Ricca Autosport Wins in TC
  • PJ Groenke Continues Winning Streak in TCA
  • Final Results

The TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School field returned on Saturday morning for more on-track action as they took on the Sebring bumps in Race 1. The 40-minute sprint event featured battles for podium positions across all classes. 

Chris Walsh and PJ Groenke each grabbed their third consecutive race wins in their respective TCX and TCA classes, and Jeff Ricca earned his season win of the season in the TC class.  

TCX Class

Pole sitter Chris Walsh got off to an excellent start in his No. 104 Carrus Callas Raceteam BMW M2 CS (Cup), getting a clean run into the first corner, where he was able to focus on the clear path ahead. He began gradually building a gap to the competitors behind, which only continued to grow as the race progressed. 

There was an early battle for second place between Celso Neto in the No. 22 Skip Barber Racing Acura Integra Type S and Lucas Catania in the No. 17 Rigid Speed BMW M2 CS (Cup). The two went side by side across multiple laps, with Joseph Catania looming just behind waiting for a chance to strike in his No. 16 Rigid Speed BMW M2 CS (Cup). After 10 minutes of battle, Lucas Catania was able to complete the overtake on Neto for second position.  

Walsh took the checkered flag in dominant fashion to pick up the Race 1 win, maintaining over a 13-second gap to the rest of the field and earning the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap of the race in the process. Lucas Catania finished in second after a strong drive, and Celso Neto took third place after fending off a fierce challenge from Joseph Catania all the way to the line. 

“ I could see the battles playing out in my rear view mirror, so I took advantage of that,” said Chris Walsh. “I focused on setting a pace that I knew it would be tough for the others to hold on to and that built enough of a gap. After that, it was just about managing the gap and the tires for the rest of the race. Thanks to the team, they gave me a great car and I couldn’t do this without them.” 

TC Class

Jeff Ricca led the pack in the TC class on board his No. 78 Ricca Autosport Hyundai Elantra N1 TC, with Cristian Perocarpi following him in the No. 37 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW TC Pro. As the time ticked away, Ricca utilized class traffic to establish a barrier between himself and Perocarpi. 

Ricca went on to clinch the Race 1 win and the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap Award in the TC class, with Perocarpi joining him on the podium. Meanwhile, there was a tight battle for the final podium position between Joey Jordan in the No. 71 FTG Racing Mazda 3, Sally McNulty in the No. 780 Ricca Autosport Hyundai Elantra N1 TC, and Ruben Iglesias Jr. in the 77 Ricca Autosport Hyundai Elantra N1 TC. The trio fought hard for positions, but it was Ruben Iglesias Jr. who came out ahead to claim the final step of the podium. 

“We tried to get another chassis ready and prepared for this weekend, but it just wasn't going to happen,” explained Jeff Ricca. “We ended up using a backup chassis, which we’ll be running at COTA as well. A lot of effort went into this, and I just want to say a big thank you to everyone at Hyundai USA, Hyundai Korea, and Ricca Autosport, they do awesome work.” 

TCA Class

PJ Groenke executed another great race in his No. 62 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW, leading from start to finish as he went on to collect his third consecutive win in the TCA class. He was once again joined on the podium by Maddy Lemke in the No. 9 Ascent Racing Honda Civic Si FE1. Alan Grossberg completed the podium in third place with his No. 63 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW. 

“Sebring is just a magical place,” exclaimed PJ Groenke. “It has that history, the heritage,and the bumps. To finally step on the podium here, on the top step, it's just, is a dream come true.”  

Let’s Get Racing

The TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School will return Sunday, May 5th for Race 2 at 9:45 AM EST. 

If you can’t make it to Sebring, be sure to tune-in to SRO’s free live streams all weekend long on YouTube (GTWorld) and Twitch (SROMotorsports) and follow all the action through our social media channels and the event hashtag #GTSebring.