TR3 Racing has taken a shock victory in Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge SprintX season-opener at Virginia International Raceway, following a penalty-affected race that impacted nearly all of the leading cars.
Andrea Montermini held off a hard-charging Andrew Davis for overall honors by just 0.239 seconds, after seven cars were hit with drive-through penalties for not meeting the minimum pit lane delta time during their mid-race pit stops and driver changes.
The penalties were issued to the top-three placed cars overall and seven in total with less than 15 minutes remaining, which turned the running order upside down.
The race-leading No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Daniel Morad, as well as Joerg Bergmeister’s No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, the third-placed No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of Kyle Marcelli and the Ricky Taylor-driven No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R were all found to have been under the 60-second pit minimum for GT Pro-Pro class cars, measured from pit-in to pit-out.
It handed the lead to ex-Formula One driver Montermini, who took the restart in fourth after battling back from co-driver Daniel Mancinelli’s contact with the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS of Pierre Kaffer in the Esses just prior to halfway.
Mancinelli was not penalized for the incident, which sent Kaffer nearly airborne and out of contention with suspension damage.
In the end, the small Miami-based team claimed a surprise victory with its Ferrari 488 GT3 car, which came in Montermini’s 300th career start as a driver.
Davis was second in the No. 82 McCann Racing Audi R8 LMS after pole-sitter Mike Skeen spun from the lead just prior to his pit stop.
Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor brought the No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche home third overall, and winning the GT Pro-Am class alongside team owner/driver James Sofronas, courtesy of the late-race penalties.
The No. 111 DIME Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Jonathan Summerton and late addition James Davison appeared to be en route to an overall podium finish but contact with less than five minutes to go relegated Summerton to 13th overall.
Jan Heylen in the No. 16 Wright Porsche was fourth overall and second in Pro-Am, with Jordan Taylor completing the top-five overall, but third in Pro-Pro alongside Michael Cooper.
Cooper nearly went a lap down at the start of the 60-minute race when his No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R stopped on track on the recon lap with a battery issue, and along with a number of other cars, capitalized on the race’s only safety car period with 20 minutes to go.
Morad was classified sixth at the checkered flag in his CRP Mercedes, the highest finisher of the penalty-affected cars.
The No. 007 TRG Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Drew Regitz and Kris Wilson picked up GT Am-Am class honors with a 12th place overall finish.
GT Cup honors, meanwhile, went to the No. 55 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo of Alesandeo Bressan and Yuki Harata, in the Japanese driver’s first-ever car race.
It was a day to forget for K-PAX Racing, with overall championship leader Alvaro Parente sustaining suspension damage from a first-lap incident and Bryan Sellers pitting with a left-rear puncture.
The second race of the weekend is set for Sunday at 1:15 p.m. ET.
RESULTS: Race 1