Italy’s Daniel Mancinelli and Niccolo Schiro scored another Pirelli World Challenge SprintX 60-minute sports car race Saturday at Circuit of the Americas COTA in the PWC Grand Prix of Texas in 90-plus degree heat.
Driving the No. 31 TR3 Racing/The Collection Ferrari 488 GT3, the Ferrari duo put in another sensational performance in the 24-lap feature as Mancinelli captured his third SprintX win of the year and Schiro collected his second victory. At VIR in April, Mancinelli co-drove with Andrea Montermini for the team’s first PWC win. Porsche’s Patrick Long has two 2017 SprintX wins.
Mancinelli chased pole winner Ricky Taylor of Apopka, Fla., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. until the pit window open on lap 12 in a close bumper-to-bumper battle. Both pitted and Schiro jumped into the Ferrari and four-time PWC GT champion Johnny O’Connell began his stint in the Cadillac. The duel continued with Schiro hounding O’Connell for another lap and a half. Then Schiro made an inside move for the lead at turn 12 of the 3.247-mile, 20-turn road circuit. The Italian then opened his advantage for the final ten laps to cross the finish line 2.158 seconds ahead of O’Connell.
“My race was very good. I pushed a lot in the first laps but I didn't have enough speed in this race to pass the No. 3 Cadillac Taylor,” said Mancinelli. “I tried to pass again in the last sector at turn 15, but I couldn't do it and had to back off until the pit stop. Then Niccolo Schiro did a fantastic job in the second part of the race. He overtook Johnny O'Connell and that allowed us to take the win back home which is good for the team because it's our first year in the championship and our first time running here. This place COTA is nice, wonderful, amazing - the fast corner in the first part and then the two fun corners in the last part. Also, COTA is a very important track because MotoGP and Formula 1 race here. Racing in America is fun and exciting.”
“The team gave us a really consistent car and I knew I had to hope for O'Connell in the Cadillac to make a mistake because they had much more top-speed,” said Schiro. “On the straight, I could be closer to him and then under braking we were a bit stronger so I made a move. Then our pace was very good so I could just manage it and wait. I want to thank our team - it's our first year and we're fighting so hard against factory teams it's not easy so I want to thank them all.”Recording the final position on the victory podium top-three was the Dallas-based GAINSCO/Bob Stallings “Red Dragon” Porsche 911 GT3 R of Jon Fogarty of Bend, Ore., and Germany’s Wolf Henzler.Completing the top-five in the Round 9 SprintX race Saturday at COTA was the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S with defending GT champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal and Ben Barnicoat of England as well as the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 sports car of Daniel Morad of Canada and Ryan Dalziel of Scotland.
Friday’s SprintX-winning team of Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Jorg Bergmeister of Germany was seeking a second win at COTA Saturday but suffered misfortune in the first corner of the opening lap when hit by another hit and forced to spin. Driving the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Long and Bergmeister fought back to collect eighth in Round 9.Unofficially, Long continues to lead the Overall GT point standings with 297 to Michael Cooper’s 288, Mancinelli’s 277 and Parente’s 273. The final SprintX race of the year Round 10 is scheduled for Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CDT.In the Pro/Am class, James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., and Mathieu Jaminet of France collected their second consecutive division win of the weekend in the No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R over Tim Pappas of Boston, Mass., and Jeroen Bleekemolen of Germany in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Mike McCann of North Canton, Ohio and Mike Skeen of Charlotte, N.C. in the No. 82 McCann Racing Audi R8 LMS.The victory for Sofronas was his ninth in the No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 with five in the GTA Sprint division and four in the Pro/Am SprintX category. Sofronas now leads the GTA and Pro/Am points.
In Sunday’s final SprintX 60-minute main event, Jaminet will start from pole after setting the fast race lap Saturday at 96.99 miles per hour. “The start was a little rough for me,” said Sofronas. “We qualified in front of some pros so I'm happy about that. However, on the start I went right when I should have gone left, Pat Long was spinning right in front of me and I just had to go off track. Everybody went by and it was a matter of regrouping, putting my head down and regaining some of the spots so I could hand the car over to Mathieu. I knew that would give him a chance to bring it to the end and he did. What a great drive.”
“If I could pull a good pace early in the race then I could pass Bleekemolen quickly,” said Jaminet. “Then I came up on Jan Heylen in the No. 16 Porsche and the Nissan No. 75 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT-3. I just added a lot of pressure and Heylen made a mistake, missing a brake point, and the Nissan had to avoid him so I passed them on the inside. Then I went a little quicker and caught the pro cars in front of me and there was no reason to fight or take risks so I just brought it to the end. It was a very good result for the team.”Another double COTA class winner Saturday was the MOMO/NGT Motorsports team of Henrique Cisneros of Miami, Fla., and Peter Ludwig of New Paltz, N.Y., in the No. 30 Ferrari 458 GT3. Cisneros and Ludwig took top honors in the GT Am/Am category both Friday and Saturday.
Other SprintX class winners Saturday included Yuki Harata and Alessandro Bressan in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo in the GT Cup Pro/Am Conrad Grunewald and James Weiland in the R3 Motorsports Ferrari Challenge in the GT Cup Am/Am and Derek DeBoer and Sean Gibbons in the No. 09 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in the GTS Am/Am.
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