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.
The weekend will continue with Round 2 on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT, with Ferraris on the pole for two of the classes for Sunday’s 90-minute race.
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 lap. 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.
Pierre Mulacek and Anthony Lazzaro placed second in the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3, followed by Christopher Cagnazzi and Brian Kaminskey in the No. 19 One11 Competition Ferrari 488 GT3.
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.
Race 2 on Sunday. The opening weekend of the season concludes with Race 2 on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. Ferraris will return to action at the next round of the Blancpain GT America series at Virginia International Raceway on the 26-28 of April.