Fuentes/Baptista nab GT World Challenge Race 1 victory at COTA

Fuentes/Baptista nab GT World Challenge Race 1 victory at COTA

SRO America

Fuentes/Baptista nab GT World Challenge Race 1 victory at COTA

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Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista piloted their Ferrari 488 GT3 to a convincing Pro/Am and overall GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Series victory at Circuit of The Americas on Saturday afternoon. Shelby Blackstock and Trent Hindman guided their Acura NSX GT3 to a second overall finish and Silver division win.

The Houston, Texas, Winward Racing team of Alec Udell and Russell Ward in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished third overall in the race and second in the Silver category. Fred Poordad and Jan Heylen in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (991.II) finished second in Pro/Am, while David Askew and Ryan Dalziel finished third in Pro/Am in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

From pole, Fuentes, in the No. 1 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3, led the field to green and launched into the lead. Behind him a number of competitors contacted through Turn 1 with Poordad, in the No. 20 Porsche and GT Sports Club competitor Jason Bell No. 2 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT2 RS CS caught up through the turn. Poordad would later come into pit lane for minor repairs.

While Fuentes grew a 1.6 second lead by lap 2, Blackstock, in the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3, and Udell, in the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 began a multi-lap battle for position, with the driver of the No. 93 machine defending successfully never opening a window of opportunity for the pilot of the No. 33 machine.

As the clocked clicked down to the pit window opening at the 45-minute mark of the race, both Blackstock and Udell closed within a second of the leader Fuentes. And when the window opened, both Fuentes and Blackstock came into the pits immediately to changeover to Baptista and Hindman respectively.

Udell remained out on track to attempt to gain valuable seconds. Udell was the last competitor into the pits before the closing of the window and once the charts recycled Baptista remained in the lead, with Hindman now up into second, and Ward, who took over for Udell, now in third. Heylen, now in the No. 20 machine sat fourth overall and third in class, while Dalziel, in the No. 63 machine sat in fifth overall and third in class.

From there Baptista hit his marks and grew his lead taking the checkered 6.7 seconds ahead of Hindman, and over 40 seconds ahead of Ward.

“Martin did a great job on his stint and the team did a great job on the pit stop, and on my first lap I pushed quite hard to get a big gap and from there I just managed my tires,” said Baptista.

“They (Fuentes and Baptista didn’t put a wheel wrong the whole race and drove a heck of a race. We will go back to the drawing board and hopefully put some setup changes on for tomorrow and go back at it,” said Blackstock.

Results are provisional until posted final. Drivers now look ahead to the 90-minute Round 10 race scheduled to go green at 1:15 p.m. local time on Sunday. Watch the race live on youtube.com/GTWorld.

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