Dane Cameron and Mike Hedlund won Race Two of the Blancpain GT World Challenge America weekend at Road America. The #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX took the chequered flag .495 seconds ahead of the #61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Toni Vilander and Daniel Serra.
Andy Soucek and Alvaro Parente completed the overall podium positions, their #9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 finishing 10.377 seconds behind the #61 Ferrari.
The win for the #43 Acura gave Wisconsin-based RealTime Racing its 100th race win and on its home circuit.
Vilander and Serra’s second-place finish means that the Finnish driver has provisionally won the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America drivers title.
Cameron Passes For Lead As Race Goes Green.
The 90-minute race got underway with no rain but a circuit that was damp in patches. Most teams opted to start on slicks.
Kyle Marcelli in the #80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX led the field at the start from pole, the race getting underway behind the safety car.
Dane Cameron, behind the wheel of the #43 RealTime Racing Acura, passed Kyle Marcelli for the lead as the race went green. Cameron then started to pull out a small gap. By the fourth lap the #43 Acura was over half a second ahead of the Canadian driver.
Championship leader Toni Vilander held on to a steady sixth place during the opening laps, sitting just over two seconds behind Ryan Dalziel in the #63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 by the sixth lap. Maxime Soulet, however, was on a charge in the #3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 and passed the Finnish driver for sixth on the ninth lap. The team reported that Vilander was running a ‘compromise set-up’ and were not looking to take any risks with the championship within its grasp.
Cameron Extends Lead.
By the time that pit window opened, Cameron had extended his lead to 4.490 seconds and had set the fastest lap of the race to that point with a 2:07.663.
Cameron and Marcelli stopped after 23 laps, the #80 car leaving the pits having gained 1.5 seconds with a quicker stop.
After the driver changes had cycled through, Serra, in the #61 Ferrari was in eighth place. Mike Hedlund led in the #43 Acura with a 4.855 second advantage over Martin Barkey. Serra was not holding back and had moved up to sixth with less than 30 minutes remaining, setting the fastest lap of the race with 2:07.574 in the process.
Serra Pushes In Final 20 Minutes.
As the race entered its final 20 minutes, Serra’s battle with Rodrigo Baptista in the #3 Bentley was the closest on-track contest. The Brazilian driver looking for a way past the #3 car for fifth place. Fortuitously a brief Safety Car was called after David Askew went off in the #10 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. The #10 car was driven slowly back to the pits and green flag resumed.
Daniel Serra took full advantage of the race neutralisation and was up to second as racing resumed. The #61 Ferrari then set about chasing down the race leader and, with a minute and a half left, the gap was 2.995 seconds.
Serra was unable to make the entire gap back and took the chequered flag just under half a second back.
Daniel Serra explained how he worked the brief Safety Car period to gain such an advantage.
“Suddenly there was no more Full Course Yellow – it was green and no Safety Car,” said Serra. “I was able to overtake both Bentleys and tried to win overall. I’m happy to help Toni and the team.”
Provisional champion Toni Vilander was cautious in accepting congratulations for his second World Challenge title.
“It Was A Bit Confusing At The End.”
“Let’s wait for the final result,” said the Finnish driver. “It was a bit confusing at the end. (For me) it was the most difficult stint of the whole year – in these conditions and on slicks. If I was to have made a mistake, it would look super-stupid! It would have given a huge amount of points on a plate to our opponents. I started the stint on used tyres and I wasn’t super-confident in the car. It wasn’t a super performance by me but I couldn’t do a mistake.”
“I drove around and stayed out of trouble,” said Mike Hedlund in the pit lane. “No mistake and brought them the win – the 100th for RealTime!”
The final rounds of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge take place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 18 – 20.