Daniel Serra and Toni Vilander, teammates in the #61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari F488 GT3, won Round 11 of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America. Toni Vilander crossed the line 1.482 seconds ahead of the #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX driven by Dane Cameron in the car he shares with Mike Hedlund. The #43 car also took class honors in the Pro-Am category.
Scott Hargrove and Patrick Long completed the overall podium positions, Hargrove bringing the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R home 2.386 seconds behind the #43 car.
The win for the #61 Ferrari means that Toni Vilander’s lead in the overall drivers standings has increased to 51 points, contenders Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek having finished ninth.
Serra Leads From Pole
Daniel Serra, who qualified in spectacular fashion earlier in the day, led the field away from pole position in the #61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari F488 GT3. Patrick Long, at the wheel of the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R put the young Brazilian driver under pressure at the start but Serra defended well into Turn One and kept the lead.
Serra then settled down and started to pull out a small gap to Long in the #58 car.
Martin Barkey, currently leading the Pro-Am drivers standings with teammate Kyle Marcelli in the #80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX, got up to third in class and after three laps was 2.242 seconds behind Anthony Imperato in the #91 Porsche.
After 30 minutes, Serra’s lead had increased to over 6.5 seconds, the #61 pilot setting the quickest lap time of the race with a 2:07.513.
Andy Soucek was the first of the front-runners to pit as the driver change window opened. The Spanish driver brought the #9 K-PAX Racing Bentley GT3 in after 19 laps to hand over to Alvaro Parente.
Serra brought the #61 Ferrari in after 21 laps, Toni Vilander exiting the pit lane just half a second over the minimum pit stop time. After the driver changes had cycled through, Vilander held a lead of just over 3.5 seconds from Scott Hargrove in the #58 Porsche.
With Vilander maintaining a comfortable gap to Hargrove in the #58 Porsche, the best on-track was for the lead in the Pro-Am class. Dane Cameron in the #42 Acura had begun to come under pressure from Matt Campbell in the #91 car. The Australian driver was pushing hard but Cameron was on a charge.
Safety Car Offers Cameron An Opportunity.
The RealTime Racing driver’s opportunity came after a Safety Car was required to recover a stricken #38 K2R Porsche with Alex Barron at the wheel..
Racing resumed with four and a half minutes remaining. Jostling amongst the packed field allowed Vilander to pull out a gap of over three seconds to the #58 car to assure the Finnish driver of his sixth victory of the season. A charging Dane Cameron passed Scott Hargrove for second position overall on Lap 40 while Alvaro Parente struggled with problems on his #9 Bentley.
“I always struggle a little bit with Road America,” said Toni Vilander. “I think one thing today is to point out Daniel (Serra’s) performance. He’s here for the first time. Did you see his qualifying? He matched the pace of last year’s pole and he was on another planet. Today the credit goes to my team but also to Daniel.”
Race Two of the weekend’s double-header gets underway at 14:15 local time (20:15 UK time) on Sunday September 22.