ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – One of the two Nissan entries in the first round of the Pirelli World Challenge in St. Petersburg started like a freight train, and both cars finished the race ahead of where they started.
In GT Class, Mike Skeen of Charlotte, NC had difficulties in qualifying, unable to get a hot lap before time ran out in the CRP Racing Nissan GT-R. Starting at the back of the 23 GT cars, Skeen showed why he's considered a young star in the series by passing nine cars on the first lap in the red and white GT-R. Skeen spooled the GT-R's turbos and blew by Vipers, Ferraris, Audis, Porsches and Lamborghinis as he picked off nearly half the GT field on lap 1 at the St. Pete street circuit. Skeen finished the 32-lap sprint an impressive 11th, on the same lap with the race winning Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 of Tomas Engel.
In GTS, the 370Z NISMO of Ric Bushey started ninth behind pole sitter and veteran racer Jack Baldwin and his Porsche Cayman. Bushey battled a strong push from the Mustangs, Camaros and Aston Martins behind him, hit his marks on a challenging 1.8-mile St. Pete street circuit and nail down a solid seventh place finish for the Motul/SPL Racing Nissan. The finish capped a good weekend for Bushey and his Z.
"We experienced some minor mechanical issues that prevented us from participating in the practice sessions and weren't able to perfect our set-up for race day," said the Virginia Beach-based driver. "Without a doubt, we are looking forward to Long Beach because we know the car has more potential."
Brian Kleeman of Baltimore, MD had his Nissan 370Z as high as seventh fastest time in practices before a last-minute engine mechanical issue prevented him from racing.
The St. Petersburg race will air on NBC Sports Network Sunday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m. EDT/4:30 Central. The teams now move on to rounds two and three at the Long Beach Street Circuit on April 11-13.
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