|Vilander, the veteran racer from Finland, and Molina, the young, rising star from Spain|
It was a traditional Ferrari-Porsche battle Saturday at Portland International Raceway in the 58th Rose Cup Races featuring the Pirelli World Challenge presented by Honda Racing/HPD as the Ferrari duo of Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina recorded their fourth 2018 GT SprintX win.
Driving the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3, Vilander, the veteran racer from Finland, and Molina, the young, rising star from Spain, came from behind in the second half of the 60-minute, two-driver event to defeat the Porsche combination of Michael Christensen and Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R by 1.46-seconds at the checkered flag in the 48-lap event.
At the start of the Round 7 GT SprintX race, Christensen started from the pole position and held the advantage over Vilander by just over a second, but a quick pit stop for the Ferrari and some sensational “out laps" by Molina secured the fourth win of the season by the season point leaders.
In addition, the victory helps Vilander extend his GT Overall point lead entering Sunday’s Round 8 contest scheduled for 2.25 p.m. PDT in the first PWC event weekend at the 1.7-mile, 12-turn road course in 13 years.
“We went into the weekend trying to focus on the start because I felt the pair numbers had a disadvantage in the start," said Vilander. “This time I felt that everyone had a fair and equal start. When I did the track walk the other day, I thought to myself that this track wouldn't be nice to us. I thought we would have a lot of problems. But after driving through it, I see that the track is very nice for us and the car. It balances out well especially in the low-to-medium speed corners, and then we are not so good on the long straights. So, it's a bit of a compromise and it balances out."
“It has been so much fun to race in the U.S. and, of course, winning races helps that too," said Molina. “This track reminds me of some of the older tracks in Europe and those are always fun. I knew I needed to get out in front of the Porsche after the pit stop. On cold tires, it is not easy. But the Ferrari felt good after Toni gave it me and the Ferrari was solid all race. To win four races this year after never driving with Toni before, is a thrill. The R. Ferri team is doing a great job."
Third overall in the GT SprintX race was the Pro-Am pair of 17-year-old Parker Chase of Texas and veteran Ryan Dalziel of Scotland in the No. 19 TruSpeed Autosports Audi R8 LMS and two other Pro-Am teams filling out the top-five finishes with the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Jeff Segal and Wei Lu and the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Yuki Harata and Alessandro Bressan.
“There was a little bit of contact on the tire on the sidewall at the start, so we didn't really have any pressure in the left front tire which was kind of scary, but it ended up fine," said Chase. “The track is nice. I think it suits our car really well. Obviously, we got a really good result – third overall and first in class – so, all in all, it was good. It's fun track and it’s fun to win."
“We rolled off the truck with a good car," said Dalziel. “We expected the Audi to be really good here. It's somewhat of a medium speed corners, which is where our car is good. Good job by Parker in qualifying. (Parker) had a bit of a tire issue in his stint so we were just glad that it stayed together. I start in third tomorrow and we definitely have a car to challenge the guys in front. We haven't had the easiest of seasons to date but, ultimately, we keep our focus on the ProAm championship and if you end up challenging in front, that's fine."
Winning the Am division Saturday was the tandem of Martin Fuentes of Mexico and Caesar Bacarella in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Italia Ferrari 488 GT3, while Ryan Hardwick of Atlanta, Ga., drove his No. 27 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo to the victory in the GT SprintX Cup class.
It was a tough day for the K-PAX Racing squad after recent victories with two DNFs for the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 with Rodrigo Baptista and Maxine Soulet and the No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 with Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek.
1,1, Pro/Pro,Vilander/Molina,R. Ferri Motorsport,,,Ferrari 488 GT3,48,Running,1:00:25.771,
2,2, Pro/Pro,Christensen/Pumpelly,Alegra Motorsports,,,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),48,Running,1:00:27.240,1.469
3,1, Pro/Am,Chase/Dalziel,TruSpeed AutoSport,,,Audi R8 LMS,48,Running,1:00:27.880,2.109
4,2, Pro/Am,Segal/Lu,TR3 Racing,,,Ferrari 488 GT3,48,Running,1:00:28.471,2.700
5,3, Pro/Am,Harata/Bressan,Dream Racing Motorsport,,,Lamborghini Huracan GT3,48,Running,1:00:50.288,24.517
6,3, Pro/Pro,Henzler/Hargrove,Pfaff Motorsports,,,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),48,Running,1:00:52.686,26.915
7,4, Pro/Pro,Morad/Brabham,CRP Racing,,,Mercedes-AMG GT3,48,Running,1:01:01.891,36.120
8,1, Am, Bacarello/Fuentes,Squadra Corse Garage Italia,,,Ferrari 488 GT3,48,Running,1:01:05.790,40.019
9,4, Pro/Am,Byrne/Cosmo,PPM,,,Lamborghini Hurracan GT3,48,Running,1:01:34.609,1:08.838
10,2, Am,T. Baek/R. Baek,Vital Speed Motorsports,,,Ferrari 488 GT3,47,Running,1:01:26.432,1 LAP
11,3, Am,David Askew,DXDT Racing,,,Mercedes AMG GT3,47,Running,1:01:30.924,1 LAP
12,1, ,Ryan Hardwick,Dream Racing Motorsport,,,Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo,47,Running,1:01:34.441,1 LAP
13,5, Pro/Pro,Baptista/Soulet,K-PAX Racing,,,Bentley Continental GT3,26,Not Running,33:29.934,22 LAPS
14,6, Pro/Pro,Parente/Soucek, K-PAX Racing,,,Bentley Continental GT3,15,Not Running,26:21.795,33 LAPS