Blancpain GT World Challenge Americas – Ferrari’s to the Front in Texas
Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina once again raced to another victory with the Ferrari 488 GT3 on Sunday. For the second time in as many visits, the Ferrari duo were victorious in Texas following a dominant overall victory in Sunday’s Round 2 of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America on Sunday at Circuit of The Americas.
PRO. Despite starting fourth, Toni Vilander needed only two laps to take the overall lead in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3. Once he took the lead, he never looked back before pitting. Co-driver Miguel Molina cycled back to the lead following the round of pit stops, and held a 14-second advantage when a full-course caution waved late in the race. The Ferrari driver was under attack at the restart by Saturday race winner Andy Soucek with less than ten minutes remaining. Soucek went to the inside and took a brief advantage, but Molina fought back and regained the lead in the Esses. From that point, the Ferrari went unchallenged all the way to the checkered flag, winning the 40-lap event by 1.249 seconds.
PRO-AM. Winners on Saturday, Jeff Segal and Wei Lu were well on the road to a second consecutive victory in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3. Segal started on the overall pole but fell back to fifth on the opening circuit. He fought back to the overall lead before his pit stop near the end of the pit window. Lu returned to the fray second in the Pro-Am class, and needed only six laps to regain the class lead. Lu enjoyed a four-second lead when the late caution closed the gap. However, Lu was hit and knocked off course on the restart, resulting in a ninth-place finish. Matt Plumb and Alfred Caiola led the Ferrari contingent in the category, finishing seventh in the No. 99 One11 Competition Ferrari 488 GT3.
AM. Picking off where they left off with their run to the title in 2018, Ferrari Challenge graduates Martin Fuentes and Caesar Bacarella completed a weekend sweep in defense of their championship following a come-from-behind drive in the No. 7 Squadra Corsa Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3. The opening lap was tough for Fuentes, who lost 11 positions at the green flag. The chaotic start forced him off track and deep in the pack. But he was able to consistently outpace the competition to move to the lead after 15 laps of hard racing. A smooth turn-over to Bacarella saw the duo lead the rest of the race. Ferrari Challenge racers Rich and Trevor Baek continued to make progress in Blancpain GT competition as they bettered their finish from Saturday one position, placing fourth in the No. 8 Vital Speed Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3. Fifth went to Pierre Mulacek and Anthony Lazzaro in the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3, one position ahead of Christopher Cagnazzi and Brian Kaminskey in the No. 19 One11 Competition Ferrari 488 GT3.
Ferrari Takes Two Wins in Season Opener
Ferrari Takes Two Wins in Season Opener" width="300" height="200" srcset="https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/enzari2018/enzari/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/04103856/030219_COTA_bcpix126212-300x200.jpg 300w, https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/enzari2018/enzari/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/04103856/030219_COTA_bcpix126212-768x512.jpg 768w, https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/enzari2018/enzari/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/04103856/030219_COTA_bcpix126212-1024x683.jpg 1024w, https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/enzari2018/enzari/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/04103856/030219_COTA_bcpix126212-135x90.jpg 135w, https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/enzari2018/enzari/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/04103856/030219_COTA_bcpix126212-600x400.jpg 600w, https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/enzari2018/enzari/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/04103856/030219_COTA_bcpix126212.jpg 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Ferrari teams won two of the three classes in the opening event of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America on Saturday at Circuit of The Americas.
PRO. Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander combined to finish fourth in the overall standings, co-driving the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.
Molina was involved in a heated battle early in the race. After falling to fourth on the start after qualifying third, he managed to regain the position on lap 12. Molina pitted with the lead on the 17th circuit. Vilander returned to the race in fourth, and fought for a spot on the podium all the way to the finish line but came up less than a second short.
PRO-AM. Wei Lu continued to impress at COTA as the former Ferrari Challenge racer once again delivered a huge performance at the Texas track. After starting from second on the Pro-Am grid, Lu took the class lead on the opening lap and cruised to a dominant victory with Jeff Segal in the no. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3. Segal will start on the class pole for Sunday’s race.
“I had a really good car to drive, and the team did the best pit stop ever,” Lu said. “My coach (Segal) is trying make me a better driver. This is the best weekend I can ever hope for.”
Lu debuted at Circuit of The Americas last year, finishing third with Segal in the opener before winning the Sunday finale.
“I can’t say enough about these TR3 Racing guys,” Segal said. “Everything came together pretty late, but we knew what we had, and it showed. The car was fantastic, but I have to say that the star of the day was Wei. Last year he raised some eyebrows, but he’s made an amazing transformation over the winter to get even better. Today, we were in the pro race. I can’t ask for a better co-driver.
Matt Plumb and Alfred Caiola finished eighth in the class in the No. 99 One11 Competition Ferrari 488 GT3, with the team expanding from Ferrari Challenge to enter Blancpain GT America with a two-car effort.
AM. Ferraris swept the podium in the Am class with a strong performance from drivers competing for three different Ferrari squads.
2018 Blancpain GT World Challenge champions Caesar Bacarella and Martin Fuentes opened the defense of their title with a dominant victory in the No. 7 Squadra Corsa Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3. The victory for the former Ferrari Challenge racers continued their impressive string of results in their Ferrari 488 GT3 dating back to last season’s championship.
“I love Austin, and we love this track,” Fuentes. “We always come here to test. Caesar drove amazing. He drove aggressive and gave me the car in P1. I just kept it there.”
“We’re super-excited to come back here so strong, because we love this track,” Bacarella said.
The No. 8 Vital Speed Motorsports with the father-son combination of Ferrari Challenge graduates Rich and Trevor Baek finished fifth.
Red flag. The one-hour, 30-minute race was red-flagged for 50 minutes on the fourth lap due to an incident that required barrier repairs. However, race officials stopped the clock so that competitors had another one-hour, 17-minutes remaining when the incident was cleared.
Qualifying – Ferraris in Contention at COTA
Ferrari teams turned competitive laps at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, putting the brand in promising starting positions for the opening races of the Blancpain GT World Challenge America season.
Qualifying consisted in a pair of 15-minute sessions on the 3.4-mile track, which was drying out following rain earlier in the morning. The opening group set the grid for Saturday’s opening race at 3:40 p.m. (all times Central), with the co-drivers getting behind the wheel next to set the field for Sunday’s race two at 2 p.m.
PRO. Ferrari factory driver, Miguel Molina saved his best for last in the opening session, turning in a time of 2:11.835-seconds on his final lap to secure the third starting position for the opening race. Molina, who led earlier in the session, is driving the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.
Fellow factory pilot Toni Vilander then took over the car for the second session, and was fourth overall but second in the Pro class with a lap of 2:07.691.
PRO-AM. Wei Lu took the outside front row in qualifying for the opening race, running a lap of 2:18.433 in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3. Jeff Segal took third in the second session, running a 2:07.754. The duo are no strangers to victory lane at COTA, having won together here in 2018, as they look to repeat the result for this year’s race.
Matt Plumb took the seventh position in qualifying for the Sunday event, running 2:09.009 on the No. 99 One11 Competition Ferrari 488 GT3. Alfred Caiola placed ninth in the opening session, turning a best lap of 2:23.455.
AM. Ferraris swept the top four positions in the second AM qualifying session and thus put the marque in an excellent position to achieve a strong result in Sunday’s race.
Martin Fuentes earned the pole in the second qualifying session with a lap of 2:07.957 in the No. 7 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3. Caesar Bacarella qualified second for the first race, with a lap of 2:23.744.
Anthony Lazzaro took the second position for Sunday’s race, running a lap of 2:09.011 in the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3. In the opening session, Pierre Mulacek qualified sixth, running 2:27.375.
Taking third for Sunday’s event was Christopher Cagnazzi with a 2:10.247 in the No. 19 One11 Competition Ferrari 488 GT3. Brian Kaminskey was also third in the opening session, running 2:24.972 on the damp track.
Vital Speed Motorsports has the father-son combination of Rich and Trevor Baek. The younger Baek qualified fourth for Sunday’s race, 2:11.298, while Rich Baek ran fifth in the opener, 2:26.267.
NEXT UP: VIR. The next action for the Blancpain GT America championship will be on April 26-28 at Virginia International Raceway.