Niccolo Schiro swept past Johnny O’Connell and into the race lead with 22 minutes to go, then pulled away to claim Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Race 1 at Circuit of The Americas, and kept his co-driver Daniel Mancinelli in championship contention.
The result was the fourth-consecutive podium finish for the TR3 Racing squad, including two wins, dating back to the last round at Utah Motorsports Campus.
It did not come easily, as a caution with five minutes to go for the stalled No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Jan Heylen bunched up the field and wiped away Schiro’s advantage.
Schiro in the No. 31 Ferrari 488 GT3 managed to fend off a charge by O’Connell’s No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R on the final restart with under two minutes to go with a great jump off the line, and pulled away for a 2.158 second advantage at the checkered flag.
Championship leaders Jordan Taylor and Michael Cooper finished sixth after losing three spots on the final lap following the late restart in the No. 8 Cadillac.
Heading into the final SprintX round of the season, Taylor and Cooper unofficially hold a 175-162 advantage in SprintX points over Mancinelli. With a maximum of 25 points available for a race win, a finish of eighth or better in Race 2 on Sunday would seal the title for the Cadillac Racing duo.
Jon Fogarty and Wolf Henzler scored the best result for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing since the team made the switch to the Porsche 911 GT3 R, completing the overall podium in third from eighth on the starting grid.
Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat earned a fourth-place result in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, followed by the CRP Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3 of Daniel Morad and Ryan Dalziel.
Pro-Am honors went to GMG Racing’s James Sofronas and Mathieu Jaminet for the second day in a row.
Other class winners included Yuki Harata and Alessandro Bressan in GT Cup Pro-Am, Conrad Grunewald and James Weiland in GT Cup Am-Am, and Sean Gibbons and Derek DeBoer in GTS Am-Am.
The lone GTS Pro-Am entry of Adam Merzon and Trent Hindman retired from the race after an incident that brought out the first full-course caution of the race on the opening lap and was not classified.
Race 2 is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT Sunday with live coverage available at World-Challenge.com. CBS Sports Network will air tape-delayed television coverage of the race at 3:30 p.m. ET on September 10th.
RESULTS: Race 1