Miguel Molina, at the wheel of the #61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari F488 GT3 he shared with Toni Vilander, took the chequered flag 1.249 seconds ahead of Andy Soucek in the #9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 to win Race two of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America at Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas.
Patrick Long, driving the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R he shared with Scott Hargrove, completed the top three overall, finishing a little over 4 seconds behind Soucek.
Victory in the Pro-Am Category went to the #80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX driven by Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli, completing a highly positive start to the season after Marcelli had put the #80 entry on pole for Race Two, just 35 days after the team took delivery of the car.
The #7 Squadra Corsa Ferrari, with the driver line-up of Caser Bacarella and Martin Fuentes, took the victory in the Am class.
Kyle Marcelli, at the wheel of the #80 Racers Edge Acura, led the field away from pole position at the start of the 90-minute race but Toni Vilander, driving the #61 Ferrari quickly moved up from third to challenge Marcelli for the lead at Turn 15, hip-checking the Canadian to move to the front. Maxi Buhk, at the wheel of the #71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 passed Marcelli for second place and pushed Vilander hard but held on to second position as the pit-window approached.
After the driver changes had cycled through, it was Miguel Milina in the #61 Ferrari who held the lead, having opened up a gap of 15 seconds over second-placed Patrick Long in the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Andy Soucek, now at the wheel of the #9 Bentley, was pushing Long hard, eventually finding a way past on the straight coming out of Turn 10. Soucek then set up about chasing down Molina, still just 15 seconds ahead.
The race looked to be moving towards a straightforward win for Vilander, Molina and R. Ferri Motorsport until incidents involving the #38 K2R Motorsports Porsche driven by Kevan Millstein and the #19 One11 Competition Ferrari piloted by Brian Kaminskey required a Full Course Yellow followed by a Safety Car with just under 19 minutes remaining.
The Safety Car pulled off with nine minutes remaining and immediately Soucek was on the attack, passing Molina on the restart only for the Spanish driver to take it back almost immediately. Soucek again tried to press Molina but the #61 car held on to take the win.
Rodrigo Baptista, driving the #3 K-PAX Racing Bentley, harried Patrick Long in the #58 Porsche over the closing laps but the highly experienced Porsche factory driver made the 911 GT3 R as wide as possible and despite some aggressive driving by Baptista, held on for the final podium position.
Miguel Molina was delighted to finish the first weekend of the season with a win.
“As soon as we put the power down we knew that the Bentley had more power than us and that compromised the race start for us but at the end I could keep it in the lead,” said Molina. “I knew that I should overtake him as soon as possible (after the restart) and I committed and I went for it and that was important.
“We started this project quite late and couldn’t do any testing before coming here. To be here with R. Ferri Motorsport is fantastic and we will enjoy the year and starting the season with one win is always important.”
Martin Barkey, Pro-Am winner alongside teammate Kyle Marcelli in the #80 Racer Edge Acura NSX, was pleased with his choice of team, car and co-driver for the season.
“Not (have I got) only the right co-driver but the right car,” said a jubilant Barkey. “I can’t say enough about the Acura NSX. Jon and his ream at Racers Edges….everything came together. First GT3 win, first podium and on the first weekend so hat’s off to SRO – it’s great competition and great fun!”
Pro-Am winner Martin Fuentes, driver of the #7 Squadra Corsa Garage Italia Ferrari with teammate Caeser Bacarella, was delighted to have taken the Am class win.
“We are so happy!” said Fuentes. “The start of the race was chaotic – I couldn’t go anywhere but the I pulled it back and Caser did a great stint and we kept this baby in P1!”
Rounds Three and Four of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America take place at VIRginia International Raceway on April 26 – 28.