Spain’s Miguel Molina and Finland’s Toni Vilander drove Canadian team R. Ferri Motorsport’s Ferrari 488 GT3 to victory in Saturday’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Round 5 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Gradient Racing’s Till Bechtolsheimer and Marc Miller won the Pro/Am class.
Polewinner Patrick Long (No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) took the Pro division lead at the start, pulling ahead of Daniel Morad (No. 22 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) and Molina, while in Pro/Am, Anthony Imperato’s No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R paced Bret Curtis’ No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX in the early laps.
Through the first third of the 90-minute race, the Pro order remained unchanged, Long leading over Morad and Molina. In Pro/Am, Bechtolsheimer passed Curtis into second while Imperato’s Porsche pulled clear.
Drama ensued on lap 22, though, as Long came into the pits with a damaged left rear tire, giving Morad a 0.337s lead over Molina.
A lap later, Pro/Am leader Imperato pitted as well, also with a flat left rear tire, moving Bechtolsheimer into the lead.
Through 25 laps, Morad led Molina by 0.321s, while championship points co-leader Rodrigo Baptista (No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3) slotted into third.
At lap 30, the 10-minute pit window opened for driver/tire changes and refueling, and leader Morad came in immediately, handing over to teammate Michael De Quesada. In Pro/Am, Bechtolsheimer passed the controls over to his teammate, Miller.
Near the end of the pit window, the R. Ferri Motorsport team perfectly executed a strategy that allowed Vilander to assume driving duties and keep the No. 61 Ferrari in the lead.
After the driver change, Vilander led Maxime Soulet (in for Baptista) and De Quesada, and gradually pulled away, extending his lead to more than 3 seconds.
With under 22 minutes remaining, the Pro/Am battle started to heat up as Kyle Marcelli (No. 80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX), having taken over from teammate Martin Barkey, closed on Miller.
By lap 63, with just 6 minutes left, Marcelli had closed to within two car lengths of Miller while up front, Parente and De Quesada came together through Moss Corner, Parente moving into second with Soulet into third as De Quesada came into the pit to replace a right rear tire.
At the checkered, Vilander crossed the line 3.5 seconds ahead of Parente with Soulet in third. In Pro/Am, Miller just held off Marcelli to take the victory.
Blancpain GT World Challenge America competitors must now get set for their second race of the weekend, scheduled for 9:55 a.m. EDT on Sunday. Watch the race at gt-world-challenge-america.com.