It was a night to remember in Las Vegas as the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America season closed with a huge double header event on Saturday.
Martin Fuentes took a victory in the Pro-Am class while Pro class driver champion Toni Vilander joined Miguel Molina in a third-place finish to secure the Blancpain GT World Challenge America season manufacturer title for Ferrari.
R. Ferri Motorsport. Molina and Vilander took second on the final lap in Saturday morning’s opening race, gaining points in the manufacturer standings that proved crucial in the evening event. In Saturday’s nightcap, Molina took the lead at the start of the 90-minute race on the tight 2.5-mile circuit in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3, but was forced to yield the position due to exceeding the track limits on the opening lap. Subsequently, Molina held on to second and was only 1.2 seconds back at the pit stop. The stop didn’t go as planned, however, with Vilander returning to the track 15 seconds behind the lead. Despite storming past several Pro/Am combinations, he was unable to overtake either of the two Bentleys.
As the checkered flag flew, Ferrari came out ahead in the provisional manufacturer points, 285-282, with the R. Ferri team taking second in the team standings.
Squadra Corse. Martin Fuentes passed for the lead with 15 minutes remaining and went on to win the Pro-Am category in the No. 7 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 started by Renger van der Zande. Fuentes finished fourth overall in his fourth race in the Pro-Am class. It was Fuentes’ ninth victory of the season, previously winning all eight of his starts in capturing the championship in the Am Cup class.
Van der Zande started fifth but took fourth on the opening lap, and challenged fellow Ferrari driver Alessandro Balzan throughout the opening 30 minutes. Another quick pit stop by the Squadra Corse crew put Fuentes back in the race in third position. Fuentes worked his way up to the lead with a pair of on-track passes on the narrow circuit, winning by 3.384-seconds.
Originally scored in fifth in Saturday’s opening race after van der Zande lost a position by contact, a post-race review resulted in unnecessary contact by the competitor and the Squadra Corse Ferrari was elevated to a fourth-place finish.
Scuderia Corsa. Alessandro Balzan and Bret Curtis teamed to finish sixth in the No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 – one position better than their finish in the Saturday morning race.
Balzan started third and ran with the Pro-Am class leaders throughout his stint. Curtis took over in fifth, and held that position for much of his stint for the Las Vegas-based team, making his first event of the Blancpain GT World Challenge America season.