The Ferrari brand swept all three Pirelli World Challenge GT SprintX classes Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in the Grand Prix of Texas led by Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina co-driving the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 for the second round GT SprintX race.
Vilander, the past LeMans champion from Finland, and Molina, the factory Ferrari driver from Spain, drove to another impressive win Sunday in the 60-minute, two-driver feature by defeating the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 pair of Mike Skeen and Scott Heckert by 2.521-seconds in the 28-lap Round 2 contest in the Pro-Pro category.
Another Ferrari victory came in the GT SprintX Pro-Am class with Jeff Segal and Wei Lu co-driving the No. 31 Ferrari of Vancouver/TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 over the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 duo of Rodrigo Baptista and Maxine Soulet.
And the Am-Am class victory went to former GTA champion Martin Fuentes and Caesar Bacarella in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia/Hublot Ferrari 488 GT3.
“I found a good pace at the beginning,” said Molina, who began the one-hour event for R. Ferri Motorsport Sunday. “I overtook the white Ferrari in the last corner early. Things were a bit easier after that when I started to find my own rhythm and pace. After that I tried to just increase the gap as much as possible to make Toni (Vilander’s) job easier in the car.
“Today, we struggled a little bit more than we did yesterday, but what matters is that we scored our second consecutive win. We are really happy with everything and we’re doing a good job together, especially since this was my first race with Toni and the team. I think there’s no better way to start the season or a championship than this weekend.”
“I think overall what mixes up the field a little bit is that we have a limited amount of tires,” said Vilander. “Some cars in the field had sticky tires, some had used tires and some had qualifying tires. We did a later stop – everything worked out to plan. I had the gap but the Mercedes behind me was closing quite aggressively. I was building up the tire pressures and temperatures because I thought it would be a difficult race. So, I still kept pushing and the car started feeling better and better each lap. I saw behind me that they were going into some corners side-by-side. There were cars that we were lapping in traffic and I knew that was the key moment. I think that was the crucial moment. What’s funny that you might not see out there is that every session, we had a very different setup from yesterday’s race.”
The Pirelli World Challenge GT SprintX Rounds 3 and 4 are on the SprintX schedule at VIRginia International Raceway in Danville, Va., on April 27-29. The next PWC GT Sprint event will be a GT/GTS event on the streets of Long Beach as part of the 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13-15.