The Porsche pair of Spencer Pumpelly and Michael Christensen won GT SprintX Round 5 Monday at Lime Rock Park with the Ferrari duo of Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina capturing Round 6 in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Lime Rock powered by M double-header sports car event.
In the first 60-minute, two-driver GT SprintX race Monday, outstanding strategy paid off for Pumpelly and Christensen Monday with an impressive 2.759-second victory in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R at the 1.5-mile, seven-turn road circuit in northwest Connecticut
Pumpelly, a GT SprintX winner last year at Lime Rock Park from Atlanta, played a smart first stint and turned the Porsche over to Denmark’s Christensen in second place. A quick pit stop and strong laps by Christensen put the Alegra Motorsports machine in the lead over the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 of Vilander and Molina in the 64-lap GT SprintX feature.
On the restart, Christensen enjoyed the advantage over Molina in the last seven laps to win the Alegra’s first PWC race of the year.
GT overall point leader Scott Hargrove, teamed with Wolf Henzler, in the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol Porsche 911 GT3 R for the final podium.
Rounding out the top five were the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek, and the No. 19 TruSpeed Autosport Audi R8 LMS GT3 car of Parker Chase and veteran Ryan Dalziel (pictured below). The Chase/Dalziel duo also captured the Pro/Am division Monday.
In the second GT SprintX event of the day, it was the Vilander/Molina combination who drove to a stellar performance in the R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 for the team’s third GT SprintX victory in 2018.
It was a 2.489-second win for Vilander and Molina over the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of 2016 GT champion Parente and Soucek as well as Pumpelly and Christensen in the Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Finishing fourth and fifth Monday afternoon for Round 6 was the Hargrove/Henzler Porsche team and the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 entry of Rodrigo Baptista and Maxime Soulet. Baptista and Soulet also took top honors in the Pro/Am class Monday.
“We had really good pace, said Pumpelly. “It’s tough to pass here and a lot of that is because we’ve thrown so much aero (dynamics) on these GT3 cars now that you can’t run very close to the car ahead of you. So, success creates its own penalties. If you get close to another car, you start to fall back. So, we made sure our pit strategy was nailed down. I was confident in the Alegra guys and Michael, so I knew we were in good hands.”
“The race was great,” said Christensen. “To be honest, it was all about the first stint and the pit strategy. Of course, the car has to be good too and the car was doing well. So, we had the potential to exploit the car, especially when we have no traffic. Of course, a yellow flag/caution doesn’t help when you have a big lead, but I knew the car and the tires were still good so it was just about having a good restart and I managed to get that.”
The victory for Vilander and Molina moves the Finnish racer to the GT overall point leader for Hargrove as the Pirelli World Challenge moves to the famed Road America four-mile road circuit in Wisconsin.
“This track has been always good to me,” said Vilander, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner. “I first came here in 2006 in ALMS. We came here and struggled a bit and we could see some things we didn’t like. We made some changes after qualifying that gave me more confidence with the car. I had the fresh rubber in the end and the car was a pleasure to drive. Alvaro was on me in the beginning of the stint, but, once the tire temps got up properly, I was able to go and get the gap on him. It was really great to get the victory.”
“The changes that we made before the second race today really helped us,” said Molina, the factory Ferrari driver. “The car was much more driveable. I was able to open the gap over the Bentley early in the race and Toni did a tremendous job securing the win today. And it helped Toni take the GT point lead too.”