The Scuderia Corsa Ferrari will be battling for victory this weekend as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) for the GT Challenge.
Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander return to the wheel of the white No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 for the two-hour, 40-minute race on the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit, featuring IMSA’s GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes. The two drivers are coming off a seventh-place GTD finish in the recent IMSA Road Race Showcase at Road America.
“VIR is a great natural terrain road course that really has nearly every kind of turn,” MacNeil said. “The fast Esses are a focus for us with the WeatherTech Ferrari’s set-up. You also need maximum traction off of the Oak Tree turn to get down that long straight away. We have had a tough season, so with three races to go we would like to put together a string of good results heading into the season finale at Petit Le Mans where we won last year.”
This will be the eighth of 10 races in the IMSA GTD championship. Vilander and MacNeil are eighth in the standings, with podium finishes in the 12 Hours of Sebring and Six Hours of The Glen. It is also the sixth and penultimate round for the new IMSA Sprint Cup Championship for the shorter races on the schedule, with the Scuderia Corsa drivers ninth in the points.
“The IMSA season has been a little bit up and down for us,” Vilander said. “Not a super performance, but we managed to at least get a few podiums. We work as hard as we can for every weekend. We have a good support from Ferrari, and everybody on the team is working hard to find all the details to get better. There are some signs of speed, but now we need to get it together.”
Vilander has additional encouragement by Scuderia Corsa’s performance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, when he joined MacNeil and Robert Smith in taking third in the GTE-Am class in the WeatherTech Ferrari.
Now, he feels that a bit of racing luck will help their chances in IMSA competition.
“We had more pace at Lime Rock [in July], but then we had an issue on Cooper’s opening stint,” Vilander said. “Then at Road America, we felt we had more pace in qualifying, and then there was a red flag that negated Cooper’s fast lap and that put us back. We keep believing and we keep pushing, but it’s not easy. GTD is tougher than it used to be in GTLM! It’s a tough class nowadays.”
Following the GT Challenge at VIR, only two races remain on the 2019 schedule, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 15, followed by the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 12.
Sunday’s race will be televised live on NBCSN, beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.