Molina/Vilander win Sonoma World Challenge Race 1

Molina/Vilander win Sonoma World Challenge Race 1

SRO America

Molina/Vilander win Sonoma World Challenge Race 1

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Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander drove their R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari (photo above) to a dominating win in Saturday afternoon’s Blancpain GT World Challenge America Round 7 race at Sonoma Raceway. The pair led flag to flag in the 90-minute, 53-lap contest.

RealTime Racing’s Mike Hedlund and Dane Cameron finished first in the Pro/Am category, while Squadra Corse’s Caeser Bacarella and Martin Fuentes finished first in the Am category.

At the drop of the green, polesitter Molina in the No. 61 Ferrari 488 GT3 went side by side through Turn 1 with second-on-the-grid Scott Hargrove (No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R). But Hargrove was squeezed wide and his Porsche’s right side wheels were nudged off the edge of the track, allowing the No. 3 K-PAX Bentley Continental GT3 piloted by Rodrigo Baptista to move into second.

Hargrove slid back into line in third while the No. 9 K-PAX Bentley piloted by Andy Soucek slotted into fourth.

Hedlund/Cameron won Pro/Am in the RealTime Acura.

Hedlund, driving the No. 43 Acura NSX at his home track, completed the top 5 overall through first lap. Bacarella, first in Am piloting the No. 7 Ferrari 488 GT3, slotted into 15th overall.

By lap 5, Molina had built a 3.2-second lead which grew to a 10-second lead by lap 15 over Baptista who had Hargrove challenging throughout.

In Pro/Am, Hedlund continued a clear run in fifth overall and first in class, while behind, series veteran James Sofronas (No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R) battled with Anthony Imperato (No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) for second in class.

At the start of lap 22, Hargrove would finally find a way around Baptista as the two competitors drag raced side by side down the front straight. Hargrove held the inside line through Turn 1 and pulling ahead.

The 10-minute pit window opened on lap 23 allowing teams to make driver changes as well as refueling and tire changes. At the end of the pit window, Vilander now at the wheel of the No. 61 machine, maintained the race lead with Maxime Soulet, who had taken over for Baptista, in second.

The No. 61 Ferrari’s lead over the No. 3 Bentley had been cut down to 3.5 seconds, though. Alvaro Parente, who had taken over for Soucek, slotted into third.

In Pro/Am, Cameron took over for Hedlund and maintained the lead in class, up into sixth overall in the race. Matt Campbell took over the No. 91 machine from Imperato and moved into eightth overall, while Sofronas’ co-pilot Dirk Werner slotted into ninthth overall and third in class.

In the Am class, Fuentes jumped into the No. 7 machine which by then was 14th overall.

The Squadra Corsa Ferrari took top honors in the Am class.

In the late stages of the race, Vilander would push the lead to 4.5-seconds over Soulet with Parente holding third. In Pro/Am, the top three maintained their positions with Cameron first in class and fifth overall, Campbell second in class, seventh overall, and Werner third in class and eighth overall.

At the checkered, Vilander crossed the line 2.2 seconds over Soulet, with Parente third. In Pro/Am Cameron finished first over Campbell and Werner. In Am, Fuentes finished 13th overall and first in class.

Blancpain GT World Challenge America Round 8 is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. PDT Sunday. The race will be streamed live on gt-world-challenge-america.com, as well as live on CBS Sports Network.

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