Ferrari teams will be well represented in all three Blancpain GT World Challenge America classes in this weekend’s 2019 season-opening round at Circuit of The Americas. The Blancpain GT America event will feature a pair of 90-minute races in an exciting two-driver format.
Pro. R. Ferri Motorsport returns to the GT Pro category with the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta Zekelman Industries Ferrari 488 GT3 co-driven by Ferrari factory drivers Miguel Molina and defending series champion Toni Vilander. Miguel and Toni shared this same car in the SprintX portion of the 2018 championship, clinching that title as well.
Pro/Am .Two teams will campaign Ferraris in the GT Pro/Am division. TR3 Racing will return with Wei Lu and Jeff Segal in the the No. 31 Ferrari 488 GT3 for the season-opening races. The pair finished second in the final 2018 Pro-Am standings, missing the championship by only four points. The 2018 campaign was Lu’s first season competing at this level after building his racing resume in the North American leg of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. Lu and Segal won the final two races of the campaign, ending the year with three victories, five runner-up finishes and nine podiums in 10 races.
“I’m really looking forward to being back at TR3 Racing in the Ferrari and racing alongside Wei (Lu) at COTA,” said Segal. “We’ve got really good memories from there last year— it was kind of our coming-out party. We were rookies and Wei did a great job to put it on pole. We had two really strong races including the win in the second race. Now we’ve both got a whole season together under our belts and after winning both races to end the season last year we are going from strength to strength to be opening the season at COTA.”
A new team, One11 Competition will have long time Ferrari Challenge competitor Alfred Caiola joined by Matt Plumb in the No. 99 Ferrari 488 GT3 as part of its two-car entry.
Am. Four teams have entered cars in the GT Am class, including Squadra Corsa Garage Italia with defending champions Caesar Bacarella and Martin Fuentes sharing the No. 07 Ferrari 488 GT3. The pair won nine of 10 races in capturing the 2018 Am title by 66 points.
“It was an incredible season last year and I’m thrilled to be returning to race for Squadra Corsa,” said Bacarella. “Martin (Fuentes) is a great co-driver and the team is very strong. Racing the Ferrari 488 is incredible, and I am looking forward to defending our championship from last year and competing in this new format with the longer races.”
One11 Competition completes its two-car entry with the No. 19 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Christopher Cagnazzi and Brian Kaminskey.
“I met Chris (Cagnazzi) racing in (Ferrari) Challenge, and when we started to talk about this opportunity to race a Ferrari 488 at the GT3 level, I have to admit it was kind of a dream come true for me,” said Kamiskey. “I feel really comfortable with Pete’s (Spinella) guidance and he’s already built a family environment with his team. I wanted to take the next step, and Ferrari has been great to us so it is very exciting to be racing this car.”
Veteran Risi Competizione will have Pierre Mulacek and Anthony Lazzaro co-driving the No. 82 Ferrari 488 GT3.
Vital Speed Motorsports has the father-son combination of Rich and Trevor Baek in the No. 8 Metier Studio/Cinder/Novitec/Sift/Con10gency Ferrari 488 GT3. This will be the second Blancpain GT America appearance for the Baeks, who placed on the podium in both races at Portland in their debut last July.
Defending winners. Ferrari dominated the 2018 season-opening weekend at Circuit of The Americas, finishing on the top step in five of the six classes. Vilander and Molina won both Pro races for R. Ferrari Motorsport, paving the way for their championship run, while Bacarella and Fuentes had a similar two-race sweep in the Am category.
Lu and Segal finished third in the opening race, but bounced back to win the Pro/Am category in the Sunday finale.
Weekend schedule. The event opens with promoter’s testing on the 3.4-mile circuit on Thursday. Friday includes one-hour practice periods at 11:40 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. (all times CT). Qualifying begins at 10:20 a.m. on Saturday, followed by Race 1 at 3:40 p.m. The weekend wraps up with Race 2 at 2 p.m. on Sunday.