Walsh, Ricca, and Groenke Take Dominant Race 1 Wins

Walsh, Ricca, and Groenke Take Dominant Race 1 Wins
  • Chris Walsh, Carrus Callas Raceteam Extends Winning Streak in TCX
  • Jeff Ricca, Ricca Autosport Victorious in TC
  • PJ Groenke Back on Top in TCA
  • Final Results

The TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School field were back in action on Saturday morning as they sped around Circuit of The Americas in Race 1. The 40-minute sprint event saw battles for podium positions unfold across the grid, as well as dominant performances from the frontrunners in the championship. 

Chris Walsh drove to victory for the fifth consecutive time in the TCX class, while Jeff Ricca secured his third win in a row in the TCA class. PJ Groenke also returned to the top step of the podium in TCA. 

TCX Class

Chris Walsh started from pole position in his No. 104 Carrus Callas Raceteam BMW M2 CS (Cup) and never looked back, setting off on the clear track ahead as battles unfolded behind him.

Lucas Catania in the No. 17 Rigid Speed BMW M2 CS (Cup) overtook Celso Neto in the No. 22 Skip Barber Racing Acura Integra Type S for second place early into the race, but a spin from Catania at Turn 19 dropped him down the running order, allowing Neto to reclaim second place. 

However, at the halfway mark, Neto experienced an issue that forced him to make a trip down pit lane, promoting Catania back into second position in the running order, with Mike Lamarra following just behind in third in the No. 07 Precision Racing LA Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4 EVO. 

As Walsh crossed the finish line to add another win to his tally this season, he also clinched the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap of the race in the process with a flying lap time of 2:24.247. Lucas Catania finished second after completing a recovery drive following his early setback, and Mike Lamarra completed the podium in third. 

“For me it was all about managing the gap between myself and the rest of the field,” explained Chris Walsh. “It was all about taking care of the car and making sure my tires were in good shape all the way to the end.” 

TC Class

Jeff Ricca took the green flag from first in the No. 78 Ricca Autosport Hyundai Elantra N1 TC, leading the TC field before focusing on building a gap to his remaining competitors. It wasn’t long before he began to make his way through the TCX class traffic as well, building a buffer between himself and the rest of the TC drivers.

Christian Perocarpi had a strong start in the No. 37 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW TC Pro, moving up into third place and gradually began applying pressure on Joey Jordan in the No. 71 FTG Racing Mazda 3 for second. 

However, issues arose for Perocarpi’s machine, dropping him down the grid shortly before the halfway point of the race. 

Jordan continued to run in second place for the majority of the race, but came under threat from Ruben Iglesias Jr. in the 77 Ricca Autosport Hyundai Elantra N1 TC in the final minutes of the race. As the two ran side by side throughout multiple corners, Iglesias Jr. managed to move himself up into second place with just over two minutes remaining. 

Ricca took home the Race 1 win and the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap Award in the TC class, with teammate Ruben Iglesias Jr. making it a 1-2 finish for Ricca Autosport. Jordan claimed the final spot on the podium in third. 

“Consistency is key in sprint races,” said Jeff Ricca. “It’s important to know how to maintain a strong pace and manage the tires. There’s so much importance around getting a chassis properly set up, and working with a team that knows how to approach it. Working with a manufacturer like Hyundai USA is a fantastic experience.”  

TCA Class

PJ Groenke completed another dominant drive in the TCA class, leading for the entirety of the race in his No. 62 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW. He was able to maintain a solid five-second gap over second-place finisher Alex Garcia in the No. 14 Skip Barber Racing Honda Civic Si FE1. Maddy Lemke returned to the podium again in the No. 9 Ascent Racing Honda Civic Si FE1, crossing the finish line to claim third place. 

“The competition out here is tough, and it just makes it that much more worth it,” exclaimed PJ Groenke. “It’s that much more enjoyable to be able to go out there and battle with Alex Garcia, knowing that I have to push every lap and just drive to the best of my abilities to stay ahead of him. It's absolutely amazing!” 

Let’s Get Racing

The TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School will return Sunday, May 19th for Race 2 at 10:35 AM CT. 

If you can’t make it to Austin, 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 #GTCOTA.