Martin Barkey and, taking the chequered flag, Kyle Marcelli in the #80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 won Race One of the two-race GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS event at Virginia International Raceway, Marcelli crossing the line .654 seconds ahead of the sister #93 Acura driven by Shelby Blackstock and Trent Hindman.
Completing the overall podium positions, and finishing second in the Pro/Am category was the the #1 TR3 Racing Ferrari F488 Gt3 piloted by Martin Fuentes and, driving the second stint, Rodrigo Baptista.
Victory in the Sports Club class was taken by the #311 311RS Motorsport Porsche 911 GT2 RS driven by Ryan Gates.
The 12-car grid comprised of both GT World Challenge entries, racing for the full 90-minute duration, and GT Sports Club cars, on-track for the first 40 minutes before taking the class chequered flag. Sports Club is a new category for SRO racing in America, using GT2 machinery.
Shelby Blackstock, at the wheel of the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 he shared with Trent Hindman, led the field away from pole position with the #33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Kris Wilson in second. Fred Poordad in the #20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R held on to third.
By lap 4 Martin Fuentes in the #1 TR3 Racing Ferrari F488n Gt3 had passed Martin Barkey in the #80 Racers Edge Motorsport Acura for fourth.
Blackstock, meanwhile, had pulled out a lead of over two seconds over Wilson before the first caution of the race was shown with a Full Course Yellow after contact resulted in Stu Frederick’s #57 GMG racing Porsche 911 GT2 RS pulling off on the back straight.
Racing resumed with 74 minutes remaining after the #57 car was recovered to the pitlane. Fuentes in the #1 Ferrari was on a charge and was soon pressuring Poordad for third. Poordad went off the circuit on Lap 12, possibly due to rear suspension damage, allowing Fuentes through for third. The #57 car was taken behind the putwall for further work.
Fuentes, however, also enjoyed an off-tracvk excursion at Oak Tree but no damage was done to the #1 Ferrari and the Mexican driver continued in third.
There was drama as the race approached the 50-minute mark after contact between the #04 DXDT Racing Mercedes driven by George Kurtz and the sister #63 entry driven by David Askew. A Full Course caution was called after Kris Wilson in the #33 Winward racing Mercedes stopped on track with a low-fuel warning.
The Safety Car period continued throughout the driver changes and when racing resumed, it was the #1 TR3 Racing Ferrari, now with Rodrigo Baptista at the wheel, in the lead with Kyle Marcelli in the #80 Acura in second.
Marcelli saw an opportunity to pass and took the lead on lap 28, Baptista falling further back into the pack after being passed by Trent Hindman in the #93 Acura for second. Hindman kept his teammate under pressure and by lap 36 had put in the fastest lap of the race and brought Marcelli’s advantage down to less than a second.
Hindman was looking for every opportunity to close in on Marcelli but struggled to get the gap down below .8 of a second. As a result, Marcelli held on for the win by .654 seconds ahead of Hindman with Rodrigo Baptista in the #1 Ferrari in third.
Martin Barkey was delighted to take the win.
“We had a better pace at CoTAn than our finishes showed,” said Martin Barkey. “Here it was the other way around. Everybody was so close here. Anyone could have won this race based on qualy times. Once again I have to tip my hat to The Racers Edge drew. The Acura is such a fun car to drive! Just before we got to (Turn) One I was able to make a little hole for myself and we got through and that just set the pace.
“It was a great turn-around from CoTA for us!”
Race Two gets underway at 13:45 local time on Sunday July 12.