Rodrigo Baptista has claimed a dominant flag-to-flag victory Saturday at Watkins Glen, with a fourth place overall finish enough for Toni Vilander to clinch the Pirelli World Challenge GT overall drivers’ title with one race to spare.
Baptista took his No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 to a 11.983-second victory over the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Daniel Mancinelli, in a relatively straightforward run for both drivers.
The Brazilian bridged out early lead from pole and managed to extend the margin throughout the 50-minute race, which saw brief periods of light rain.
It marked Baptista’s first overall victory as a solo driver in PWC competition.
Michael Christensen held off a hard-charging Vilander for the final podium position, following a puncture for the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley of Alvaro Parente, who was running in third with two laps to go.
Parente, whose left-front tire went flat after going over the curbing in the bus stop chicane, retired after bringing his Bentley into the pits.
Left side tire-related issues also struck the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Scott Hargrove and Mario Farnbacher’s No. 93 HART Acura NSX GT3, with both cars forced to pit with 14 minutes to go.
Hargrove’s misfortunes ultimately saw Vilander seal the overall GT championship, having entered the race with a 28-point lead over the Canadian.
The Pfaff Porsche finished sixth, behind the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Michael Cooper.
Anthony Imperato picked up GTA class honors in the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche with a 7th place result.
Imperato finished 45 seconds clear of the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes of David Askew, who was the only other GTA competitor in the race following the pre-race withdrawals of both Yuki Harata and champion-elect Martin Fuentes.
The final race of the GT season gets underway Sunday at 1:15 p.m. EDT.
RESULTS: Race 1