Anthony Lazzaro and Nick Mancuso made it a pair of wins for R. Ferri Motorsports in GT and GT-A, while Mark Wilkins made it back-to-back wins in GTS for Kia Racing/Kinetic Motorsports at the Pirelli World Challenge Barber Motorsports Park Presented by RECARO, Round 3 of the 2014 season.
Lazzaro took his first series win in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, which improves on his results of fourth and third in the first two races of the year. On Saturday, after starting second, Lazzaro ran behind teammate Mancuso all day but made a sterling pass through traffic on Lap 17 to take the lead.
While the pair was going through slower cars, Lazzaro made it to Mancuso’s outside, but the inside of a slower car, to gain the lead through the left-handed Turn 5 hairpin to secure the top spot, a spot he held until the end of the 32-lap race. The pass netted Lazzaro the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race.
“It came down to traffic, it was very hard to pass and super, super tight racing,” Lazzaro said. “It was a great race. Once I got out in front I thought I could pull away, and fortunately that happened.
“It’s a huge deal for Remo (Ferri) to come to the third race and podium with both cars, after having both cars on the front row,” he added. “We knew we’d be good here. We had a great setup for the race; it’s the best yet we’ve performed.”
Mancuso ultimately fell back to third overall, but still top GT-A classified driver in the No. 16 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. He started on the Motul Pole Position for the first time this season.
He nearly got second back from Long Beach winner Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS.V-R on the final lap. Mancuso dove to the inside at Turn 5 of O’Connell, but his line ran wide and O’Connell held onto the position.
O’Connell, who climbed to second after starting eighth, praised his Cadillac’s starting ability to help gain the positions. But it was a move for second into Turn 2 in a crowded battle for podium positions on a Lap 22 restart that netted him the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race.
The battle from fourth through seventh was no less intense. James Sofronas ended fourth with his best result of the season in the No. 14 Spyder/The Thermal Club Audi R8 Ultra. In fifth was Andy Pilgrim in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS.V-R.
With Mancuso third, the remaining two podium finishers in GT-A were Tim Pappas in the No. 54 Black River Caviar Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and Henrik Hedman in the No. 10 DragonSpeed Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. Pappas and Hedman finished eighth and ninth overall.
In GTS, polesitter Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., dominated the first half of the race in the No. 73 RESET-MD/StopTech/Motul Porsche Cayman S before contact with second-starting Nic Jonsson in the No. 36 Kia Motors America Kia Optima.
That promoted Wilkins in the No. 38 Kia Motors America Kia Optima to the class lead and perhaps a fortuitous victory, the 10th of his Pirelli World Challenge career.
“Yeah Jack and Nic had a good battle going. It was after one of the restarts,” Wilkins explained. “Everyone was very aggressive and they both vied for the same real estate.”
But from third on the grid, Wilkins was pleased to deliver a result not far from where the Optimas are built. “My goal was to run a really clean race,” Wilkins said. “It’s a great result for Kia after Long Beach and for West Point, Ga., where most Optimas are built.”
Second, and securing his first career Pirelli World Challenge podium finish, was Jack Roush Jr. in the No. 60 ROUSH Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R.
Baldwin ended third when all was said and done, for his second podium finish of the season.
Two cautions interrupted the 50-minute race.
On the opening lap, Brad Adams, of New Orleans, La., was stuck in the Turn 2 gravel trap in the GTS class No. 96 Voodoo Music Experience/DatDog/Yo MTV Raps Ford Mustang Boss 302S, but was removed.
The same story applied to GT-A classified driver Marcelo Hahn, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the No. 0 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2, just past the halfway point.
Points and results are provisional following today’s race. GT sees Lazzaro with 325 point, Pilgrim with 304 and O’Connell with 298. Mancuso is now tied with Andrew Palmer for fifth overall on 224 points, and Mancuso is the top-rated GT-A driver.
In GTS, Wilkins’ win moves him into the lead with 299 points, Roush Jr. has 283 and Buffomante has 280.
The grid for Sunday’s race is set based on fastest laps from Saturday’s race. Andrew Palmer, of Chicago, in the No. 21 GMG Racing Audi R8 Ultra will start on pole in GT, and Baldwin will start on pole in GTS.
Sunday’s second race of the Barber Motorsports Park weekend goes green at 10:40 a.m. CDT, a second 50-minute race with a standing start.