The Racers Edge Motorsports teams of Kyle Marcelli/Martin Barkey and Shelby Blackstock/Trent Hindman scored both the Pro/Am and Silver Division GT World Challenge America powered by AWS series victories in Saturday’s series Round 3 at VIRginia International Raceway.
Third overall (and second in Pro/Am) was the TR3 Racing team Ferrari 488 GT3 of Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista, while TR3 teammates Bill Sweedler and John Megrue won the Am division.
Silver Division competitor Blackstock’s Acura NSX GT3 led at the start of the 90m contest held under hot and sunny 89-degree conditions. Through Turn 1, Blackstock pulled ahead of second-on-the-grid Pro/Am driver Kris Wilson (Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) while behind, Am Division’s Fred Poordad (Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) maintained his starting position, slotting into third.
Behind the lead trio, a hard-charging Barkey (Acura NSX GT3) moved up into fourth, after starting sixth.
By the end of lap 3, Blackstock had opened a 2.2s gap over Wilson who was fending off challenges from Poordad, as Fuentes’s Ferrari slipped past Barkey for fourth through Turn 15.
Race control then issued a full-course caution and safety crews were dispatched to retrieve the disabled GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT2 RS CS driven by GT Sports Club competitor Stu Frederick which had made contact with Megrue’s Ferrari.
Megrue was able to right his machine and continue.
For the lap 7 restart, Blackstock perfectly timed the drop of the green and rocketed away leaving Wilson, Poordad and Fuentes in a three-way battle.
By lap 13, Blackstock had opened a 3.6 second gap on Wilson, who had pulled away from Poordad as Fuentes hounded the driver of the No. 20 machine for third. Poordad’s Porsche then suffered a mechanical issue through the Climbing Esses, allowing Fuentes to move up into third.
Poordad would limp his Porsche around the track and bring his machine into pit lane for repairs.
With the pit window open at the halfway mark of the race, Blackstock held a 6.5 second lead and stayed out to maximize track position. On lap 21 with the window still open, the racing gods struck as Wilson’s machine lost power and sat deadsticked on the edge of the racetrack. Race Control issued a full-course yellow and the lead Blackstock held vanished.
Wilson was ultimately able to re-fire his machine and return to the track under power. Blackstock entered the pits to change over to Hindman but the damage was done, and a shuffling of positions ensued.
The lap 27 restart saw a new leader with Fuentes’ teammate Rodrigo Baptista behind the wheel and atop the charts ahead of Marcelli who took over the reins of the No. 80 machine from Barkey. Third was Hindman. Colin Braun (DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) was fourth, just ahead of DXDT teammate Ryan Dalziel.
Bill Sweedler, who took over for Megrue, came to the restart line in sixth and first in the Am class.
Marcelli began an immediate challenge of Baptista for the lead after the restart and through Turn 17 passed into first. Minutes later, on lap 30, Hindman demoted Baptista to third.
For the balance of the race Marcelli was able to maintain a comfortable gap over Hindman and, at the checkered won by .654s. Baptista crossed in third, ahead of Dalziel in fourth, Braun fifth. and Sweedler sixth overall (and first in Am Division).
Provisionally, Fuentes/Baptista maintain their lead in the Pro/Am Driver’s Championship, with 58 points, ahead of Kurtz/Braun with 48 points and Marcelli/Barkey with 47 points.
For Marcelli and Barkey, the defending 2019 champions, it’s their first trip to victory circle in 2020 after getting off to an inauspicious start at COTA.
“We had better pace at COTA than the results there really showed; it just wasn’t our race weekend,” said Barkey. “It’s a great turnaround for us here. I have to tip my hat to the Racers Edge crew and of course the Acura. It’s such a great car to drive.”
Results are provisional until posted final. GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Series teams and competitors now get set for Sunday Round 4 scheduled for a green flag start of 1:45 p.m. EDT. Watch the race live on youtube.com/GTWorld and on CBS Sports Network.
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