Ferrari scored a dominant overall victory in Saturday’s ninth race of the 2020 SRO GT World Challenge America championship at Circuit of The Americas, taking a commanding lead in the Pro Am point standings in the process.
Pro Am. Fifth-fastest in Friday’s opening Pro Am practice, Squadra Corse turned it around with a perfect day on Saturday. Martin Fuentes captured the overall pole for the opening race in the No. 1 Squadra Corse Hublot Ferrari 488 GT3, and then joined Rodrigo Baptista in leading nearly every lap to win both overall and in Pro Am.
After the team stiffened the setup, the car handled to the drivers’ liking and Fuentes took the pole with a lap of 2:05.886-seconds, and then managed to hold off his two closest competitors for the overall lead (both in the Silver class) throughout his 47-minute stint. Baptista took over during a flawless pit stop, and held a solid lead when his competition made their stops.
“[The turnaround] was amazing,” Fuentes said. “It was teamwork. We were just going over and over about what we were going to do. We knew that the circumstances were different than March, so we changed a lot of things. Actually, it worked out good for us. We’re very happy for the overall win.” Baptista took the checkered flag with a 6.761-second advantage for the overall victory, and captured the class by win by a full 1:41.169-seconds. It was the fourth class victory for the team, and second overall triumph. “Martin did a great job, the team did a great job,” Baptista said. “On my out lap and my first lap I pushed quite hard, to try to stay with the big gap. Then it was just managing the tires, because it wasn’t easy to drive.”
Fuentes was in contention for the Fastest Lap Award with a best time of 2:08.473-seconds during his stint. Baptista needed only two laps to post a lap of 2:06.797-seconds, which stood up for the remainder of the race. The team is poised for another strong run on Sunday. Baptista will start on the pole after leading the second round of qualifying with a lap of 2:04.745-seconds. Entering the weekend with a one-point deficit in the point standings, the Squadra Corse competitors now have a 24-point advantage, 173-149. Only one event remains following Sunday’s race.
GT Sports Cup. Mark Issa placed third overall and second in the GT3 class driving the No. 31 Ferrari 488 GT3 in the GT Sports Club America race, which ran concurrently with the opening 40 minutes of the GT World Challenge America event. Issa went to the inside at the drop of the green flag to gain a position, but was judged to have jumped the start and was assessed a drive-through penalty. Returning to the track, Issa managed to pass three cars in other classes to work his way through the overall field and ultimately placing third in the category. The 2019 Ferrari Challenge Coppa Shell champion will start on the front row for the Sunday race, qualifying second in the class with a lap of 2:09.865-seconds.
Race schedule. The Sunday finale will start at 1:15 p.m. CT, closing up the fifth weekend of the season. COTA opened the campaign with a pair of races back in March, and returned to the schedule following the late cancellation of the weekend originally scheduled for Watkins Glen International due to New York State COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The GT World Challenge America season wraps up at iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 4, with the running of the Indianapolis 8 Hour as part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli. The opening three hours of the race carry double-points to wrap up the 2020 GT World Challenge America season.