Scott Hargrove claimed victory in his Pirelli World Challenge debut, with the Canadian taking top honors in Saturday’s opening GT Sprint race of the season in St. Pete.
The Pfaff Motorsports driver edged out the pole-sitting No. 61 RF Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of Toni Vilander by 2.783 seconds, giving Porsche the first blood in the sprint race championship.
Hargrove charged from seventh to second on the opening lap following a three-car accident involving Spencer Pumpelly, Alvaro Parente and Parker Chase in Turn 3 that put the race under a lengthy full-course caution.
Once the race restarted with 30 minutes to go, Daniel Morad, who inherited the lead following a slow start for Vilander, held his countryman at bay, despite repeated attempts to pass the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Turn 1.
Hargrove, however, completed his move on Morad on Lap 15, with Vilander quickly also getting around Morad as well, before stretching his lead over the Finn.
It marked an impressive turnaround for the Pfaff squad, following an accident by Hargrove in qualifying that left his Porsche 911 GT3 R wounded prior the 50-minute race.
Morad held off a hard-charging Daniel Keilwitz to complete the podium in third, with the Callaway Competition USA driver having to settle for fourth, in the driver, team and car’s PWC debut race.
Keilwitz fell to the rear of the 11-car field after braking late into Turn 1 at the start, which triggered the accident between Parente’s No. 6 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3, the No. 19 TruSpeed Autosport Audi R8 LMS of Chase and Pumpelly’s No. 00 TRG Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
Both Parente and Pumpelly retired due to damage, with Chase dropping out due to gearbox issues.
Martin Fuentes claimed GTA class honors with a sixth place overall finish in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari, ahead of the No. 3 K-PAX Bentley of Rodrigo Baptista, who charged back after driving into a run-off area early on.
Eight of the 11 cars took the checkered flag, due to the opening lap melee.
Race 2 is set for Sunday at 3:15 p.m. ET with live coverage on World-Challenge.com.
RESULTS: Race 1