R. Ferri Motorsport took the lead on a fast pit stop and Toni Vilander led from there all the way to the checkered flag in Saturday’s Blancpain GT World Challenge America opening race at Watkins Glen International, extending his lead in the championship. Martin Fuentes continued his unbeaten streak in leading Squadra Corsa Garage Italia to the Am class victory, unofficially clinching the championship in the process.
PRO. Daniel Serra shadowed the leader throughout his opening stint from his front-row start in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3. Vilander took over during a quick pit stop by the R. Ferri Motorsport crew, passing the leading Bentley while exiting the pits and coming out with a 2.2-second lead.
Vilander then retained the lead throughout his stint for his fourth victory of the season, winning by 2.860 seconds to unofficially extend his lead in the championship to 21 points. “It was not easy, with difficult conditions, but R. Ferri Motorsport today again did an awesome job,” Vilander said. “It was not easy for Daniel to come into the middle of the championship. Even if you know the car, there’s still some tricks in this championship, and he did a good job. It was an awesome race, and I’m happy for everyone at R. Ferri Motorsport. Let’s see how the weather will be for tomorrow, and we will build up our strategy from there.”
Serra, a two-time class winner in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was making his first start in the series, substituting for Miguel Molina. “I know the car very well, and I know Toni and the engineers,” Serra said. “It is a new championship for me, and they did a really good job explaining the rules. They did an amazing job on the pit stop.”
“Daniel is very good – he’s a pro, and he’s driven a Ferrari in the past,” said team owner Remo Ferri. “He’s a very good person. He doesn’t complain, he’s very fast and he just gets on it and gets the job done.”
AM. Ferrari Challenge Coppa Shell championship leader Mark Issa made a winning Blancpain GT World Challenge America debut in the No. 7 Squadra Corsa Garage Italia Ferrari, taking the lead on lap 11 and turning the car over to Martin Fuentes in the lead. Fuentes led the rest of the way, winning by 41.631 seconds to score his seventh consecutive victory of the season, unofficially clinching the championship.
Chris Cagnazzi started on the pole in the No. 19 One11 Motorsports Ferrari, but spun at the exit of Turn 9 to allow Issa take the lead. Anthony Lazzaro took over at the pit stop and went on to finish third.
Vilander on pole for Sunday’s race. Vilander will start Sunday’s event from the pole, with the race taking the green flag at 3:15 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network, beginning at 3 p.m. ET.