Dominik Baumann says it was a “crazy good feeling” to hold off Alvaro Parente and give both 3GT Racing and Lexus its first class victory in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition in Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
The 25-year-old Austrian took the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 to a narrow 0.191-second win in the GT Daytona class over Parente’s No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3, in a fierce final lap battle between the two drivers.
Baumann saw his lead dwindle in the closing minutes as he struggled for grip, all the while having communication issues with team.
“It was crazy because at first we had very poor radio connection, so I only mostly heard [static],” Baumann told Sportscar365.
“I didn’t know if it as 30 or 15 minutes from the end. I only heard some numbers.
“I was happy when I saw the white flag. But then it was crazy. He closed the gap so quickly on the last lap. Going for Turn 2, he was already on my back.
“I was able to defend in Turn 4 as we have pretty good straight-line speed. I took the inside line. He made a small mistake going from Turn 6 to 7, so it opened the gap a little bit. From there, I knew I was through.
“It was a crazy lap… I was happy to just get over the finish line.”
While it marked Baumann’s first career WeatherTech Championship victory in only his third race in the series, his co-driver Kyle Marcelli picked up his second win of the weekend, after taking top honors in Saturday’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race.
The Gentilozzi family-run team also a breakout weekend, with its pair of Lexus GT3 entries sweeping the front row in qualifying and leading every lap in Sunday’s 2 hour and 40-minute race, which ran caution-free.
Pole-sitter Jack Hawksworth and co-driver David Heinemeier Hansson came home fourth in class.
“We led nearly everything; qualifying, race laps,” Baumann said. “It’s just a crazy good feeling bringing it to the finish and win this race.
“It’s just great for the guys; we’ve worked so hard. It takes some pressure away from us.”
Parente: “We Had a Good Chance” for Win
MSR’s Parente, meanwhile, believes he had a good chance to sneak past Baumann for the class win, had his Acura not gone into the marbles in the closing moments of the race.
“[It] would have put me [right] behind him with three laps to go, instead of one-and-a-half to go and I could have probably better prepared the overtake,” Parente told Sportscar365. “That probably cost us the win, really.
“I’m a little frustrated because of that but I was far behind when I started my double stint and caught everyone and was feeling really good.”
It nonetheless marked a second place class finish for he and co-driver Katherine Legge, in what’s currently a one-race extension of the team’s previous Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup-only commitment for the No. 86 Acura.
Parente, meanwhile, scored his third podium finish in the last four weeks, remarkably with three different teams and in three different GT3 cars, following a challenging start to his year in Pirelli World Challenge competition.
A third in the PWC round at Long Beach in K-PAX Racing’s Bentley Continental GT3 was followed up by a second place result one week later in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season-opener in a Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“I’ve had two very serious, big, big accidents that I’ve normally never had in my career,” Parente said. “For sure I broke my ribs and it’s been hard because of that, especially.
“But at the same time, tell me one driver that’s got podiums with three different cars [in the last month]?
“It’s not easy and I’ve been challenging myself hard. It feels very good.
“You’ve got to adapt very much to the different kinds of cars and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report