Weekend Notebook: Ferrari on Podium in GT World Challenge America – Victories in Spain and Portugal

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Weekend Notebook: Ferrari on Podium in GT World Challenge America – Victories in Spain and Portugal

Maranello 03 May 2023

Conquest Racing’s Ferrari 296 GT3 secured its second consecutive podium finish on Saturday in round two of the GT World Challenge America at Nola Motorsports Park. The Prancing Horse also achieved excellent results in Europe, with victories in the International GT Open and the GT Cup Europe at Portimão. Again on the Iberian Peninsula, this time at the Navarra circuit in Spain, the Visiom team scored another win in the Endurance race; and there were also plenty of victories in the Sprint GT.

GT World Challenge America. Starting from the front row after qualifying, the number 21 Ferrari 296 GT3 of Manny Franco and Alessandro Balzan held second place down to the finish in an opening race further complicated by constantly changing track conditions after torrential rain postponed the start for two hours. After a first stint led by Franco on rain tyres, Balzan switched to slicks, pushing the leader all the way to the chequered flag. He missed out on first place by just 297 thousandths of a second. However, Sunday’s race was unlucky. The Conquest Racing Ferrari spun while overtaking ten minutes from the end, finishing just off the podium in fourth place overall.

In the Pro Am class, the number 33 Ferrari of Triarsi Competizione, with Justin Wetherill and Ryan Dalziel, slowed down by an accident in Thursday’s practice, nevertheless made the start and took tenth place overall thanks to a great effort by the mechanics. It did even better in Race-2, with seventh place in class.
The next round will be at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin on 20 and 21 May.

International GT Open. Ferrari’s strong line-up for round one of the championship claimed two victories, podiums and many impressive placings at Portimão. The wins came in the second of the weekend’s two races, with AF Corse’s Marco Pulcini-Eddie Cheever III first in the Pro-Am with the 488 GT3 Evo 2020 and sixth overall, after finishing third in Race-1. The Piacenza-based team with the same car also claimed victory in the Am class, with Alessandro Cozzi-Giorgio Sernagiotto also going from third place in Race-1 to first. In the Pro class, AF Corse’s Nicola Marinangeli and Riccardo Agostini finished fifth and sixth.

GT Cup Europe. Ferrari and MERTEL Motorsport bagged a superb one-two on their series debut with the 488 Challenge Evo. The Spanish pair Ivàn Velasco-Jorge Cabezas won both races at the Algarve circuit in the Pro-Am class. The Stephen Earle-David Perel pairing of Kessel Racing had an unfortunate weekend, securing pole position for Race-2 but being hampered in the race by a collision that incurred a 10-second penalty. In the Am class, Kessel Racing left Portugal with a double second place for the brothers Alexandre and Mikael Bochez.

Ultimate Cup Series. One month after its first win in the season opener at the Paul Ricard circuit, the Visiom team also triumphed at Navarra in the Endurance GT Touring – Open, extending its lead in the overall standings. Starting from second on the grid, Jean-Paul Pagny, Jean-Bernard Bouvet, and David Hallyday took the lead before the last hour of the four-hour race and held it down to the chequered flag.

The SR&R team enjoyed class wins in the Sprint GT with several crews at the start. In Race-1, Francesco Atzori in a 488 Challenge claimed first place in UGT3B, with Lorenzo Cossu third in the 488 Challenge Evo number 13, which won Race-2 with Alessio Bacci at the wheel, in an all-Ferrari podium. Edoardo Barbolini was runner-up and Manuel Menichini third. The 50-minute race saw a Ferrari one-two with Edoardo Barbolini and Francesco Atzori ahead of Alessio Bacci and Lorenzo Cossu.

Round three of the season runs on 26-27-28 May at the Hockenheim circuit in Germany.