Pro/Am class duo Mike Hedlund and Dane Cameron, driving for local favorites RealTime Racing, took the overall and Pro/Am Blancpain GT World Challenge America Round 12 race win at Road America on Sunday afternoon — the 100th series win for the Saukville, Wisconsin-based team.
The Pro Division R. Ferri Motorsport team of Daniel Serra and Toni Vilander crossed the line in second overall and first in class.
The 90-minute contest was held under threatening skies and damp track conditions after rain had fallen on the challenging Road America circuit for much of the morning and early afternoon.
At the drop of the green, second-on-the-grid Cameron, piloting the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX, drag-raced polesitter Kyle Marcelli (No. 80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX) into Turn 1, taking an outside line line and into the lead.
Marcelli slotted into second with Pro/Am driver Matt Campbell (No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (991)) third, while Pro Division driver Alvaro Parente (No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3) rocketed up from sixth into fourth.
Fifth in the early laps was Ryan Dalziel (No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3), with Vilander (No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3) close behind in sixth.
Cameron built a more-than-five-second lead over Marcelli leading up to the pit window with 50 minutes remaining in the contest. The lead group all held their positions as the pit window opened, Cameron the last competitor onto pit lane, handing the reins over to Hedlund.
When the window closed, Hedlund held a three-second lead over Barkey who had taken over for Marcelli, with Anthony Imperato (who had taken over for Campbell) in third overall and Andy Soucek (in for Parente) fourth.
Serra took over from Vilander and began pursuing K-PAX Racing’s Rodrigo Baptista in the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3.
With Hedlund hitting his marks and maintaining the lead up front, the battle behind raged as Serra closed on Baptista battling for fifth overall. Barkey in second defended well against Imperato as Parente closed in on the Pro/Am competitors running in fourth. Late in the race, Parente moved around Imperato and into third overall and looked to close on Barkey. Meanwhile, Serra continued to look for a way around Baptista.
Then the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by David Askew slid off and into the barrier in Turn 11. Even as Race Control issued a full-course yellow, Askew was able to restart his damaged machine and get it to pit lane. Back to full green, and all the front runners resumed their pursuit of Hedlund. Serra was able to maintain his momentum and it vaulted up into second overall by lap 36.
Serra closed in, but Hedlund crossed the line .495 seconds to the good.
With the tem’s second-place finish, Vilander wins the 2019 Pro Division driver’s championship. Soucek and Parente finished third overall and second in the Pro Division; Baptista and Soulet finished fourth and third in the Pro Division; Barkey and Marcelli finished sixth overall and second in Pro/Am; and Imperato and Campbell finished seventh overall and third in Pro/Am.
Am division winners Naoto Takeda/Takuya Shirasaka (No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW F13 M6 GT3) finished 11th overall.
After the race, Hedlund commented on RealTime’s 100th series victory: “I didn’t even know Realtime had that many wins until after Sonoma, and after that both Dane and I said to each other, ‘OK, now there’s a little bit of pressure’ because that’s a big deal — especially if we were able to get it here at (the team’s) home track. So it’s kind of been the perfect weekend.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Hedlund continued. “The team did a really amazing job, we had no mistakes, pitbstops were excellent, the car was good from the time we unloaded. Even with this questionable weather which mixes it up, everyone executed well, and we were able to get a win.”
Blancpain GT World Challenge America teams and drivers now head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the final race season of the 2019 season, Oct. 18-20.