After fighting all the way to the finish line, Ferrari driver Toni Vilander clinched the Pirelli World Challenge combined GT championship in Saturday’s opening round of the season-ending weekend at Watkins Glen International.
The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge campaign will close with Sunday’s 50-minute Race 2 on the 11-turn, 3.4-mile circuit, starting at 1:15 p.m. ET.
GT. Daniel Mancinelli added to his strong podium collection for the year with an uninterrupted run to second place in the No. 31 Oprena Ferrari 488 GT3. Starting second, the driver from Fabriano, Italy, held the position for the entire 50 minutes to claim his fourth podium result of the season.
Vilander’s race was anything but uneventful. After running sixth for the opening 25-minutes, Vilander fell to seventh on lap 19, but then gained a pair of positions on the following circuit when a pair of competitors pitted. Then, third-place driver Alvaro Parente cut a tire with three minutes remaining, promoting the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari of Ontario, Toronto and Alberta/Zekelman Industries Ferrari 488 GT3 to fourth position.
Vilander made a last lap charge to try to take third place from Michael Christensen, but came up just 0.360 seconds short at the checkered flag to finish fourth.
Entering the race with a 29-point lead in the GT Sprint and GT SprintX combined standings, Vilander added to what is now an insurmountable lead to clinch that title. He also recently wrapped up the SprintX championship in the final race of that season at the Utah Motorsports Complex.
GTA. Entering the final weekend with a solid 18-point lead, Martin Fuentes clinched the title prior to the green flag after his fellow GTA class combatants withdrew from the event. The championship sealed an incredible season for Fuentes, who piloted the Squadra Corse Garage Italia No. 07 Hublot/Alpha Prime/Italia Independent Ferrari 488 GT3 to four victories and three second-place finishes in seven races.
Fuentes had already captured the GT SprintX-Am title with co-driver Caesar Bacarella, winning nine of the 10 races in addition to a runner-up finish.
Qualifying. Mancinelli put on a late-session charge to qualify second on Saturday morning in the No. 31 Ferrari, with a best lap of 1:43.348. He came up just 0.568-seconds short of the pole time.
Vilander qualified fifth in the No. 61 Ferrari, with a best lap of 1:43.721-seconds.