Young Rodrigo Baptista Wins 1st GT Sprint Race Saturday at the Glen; Brazilian Dominates over Mancinelli & Christensen with Bentley
Imperato drives Porsche to the win in the GTA division Saturday
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – In an impressive and dominating fashion, young Rodrigo Baptista of Brazil recorded his first GT Sprint race victory Saturday at Watkins Glen International with a 11.983-second win in the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 sports car in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by TM Performance at the famed Watkins Glen International.
Baptista, 21, started the 2018 season in the GTA class at mid-season after a GT SprintX overall win at VIRginia International Raceway in April with co-driver Maxime Soulet, and the Brazilian driving star has put together an impressive GT campaign in the second half of the 2018 PWC GT campaign. Rodrigo capped off this first PWC GT season with pole position Saturday morning and a wire-to-wire 50-minute sprint race triumph.
Baptista jumped into the lead at the drop of the green flag and never looked back as he consistently extended his margin over front-row starter Daniel Mancinelli of Italy in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 car. In addition to the sensational drive in the race, Rodrigo also recorded the race’s fastest lap (116.55 miles per hour) to collect the pole for Sunday’s Round 9 contest set for 1:15 p.m. EDT.
“I am very excited to win the GT race today,” said Baptista, who won four GTS races in 2017. “I did the simulator coming to Watkins Glen as this is my first appearance here. It did help a little coming to this track. But after five or ten laps I knew I was up to the proper pace. And the Bentley car felt so good with the K-PAX crew setting up it so well. I didn’t know that the car would be that fast in qualifying and the race today. But now we know the car is good and it will be nice to start from the pole again on Sunday.”
Mancinelli, the Long Beach GT Sprint race winner, settled for the runner-up spot Saturday followed by 24 Hours of Le Mans class champion Michael Christensen of Denmark in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and current GT Overall point leader Toni Vilander of Finland in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.
The fourth place finish for Vilander unofficially clinched the GT Overall point championship for the personable Finn in his initial season in Pirelli World Challenge.
Rounding out the top-five in GT Saturday was former GT SprintX champion Michael Cooper of Huntington, N.Y., in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3.
In the GTA category, another young driver, Anthony Imperato of Brooklyn, N.Y., piloted the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to the class victory Saturday over David Askew of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“I consider Watkins Glen my home track and it feels great to get a class win here,” said Imperato. “I only started racing here a few years ago. The Wright Motorsports team is so experienced and they gave me a good Porsche for today. This was only my second race in the Porsche 911 GT3 R as I came from the Porsche Cup series. But it is so much fun to drive the 911 GT3 R. I didn’t have any testing with this 911 GT3 R, but the car felt great throughout the race. I’m ready for the Sunday race now.”
Sunday’s GT Round 9 50-minute sprint event will begin at 1:15 p.m. EDT.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Saturday results for GT Round 8 50-minute sprint race in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented TM Performance at Watkins Glen International. All results are provisional until posted Final.
1,1, Pro,Rodrigo BAPTISTA,São Paulo,BRA,Bentley Continental GT3,29,Running,50:51.667,
2,2, Pro,Daniel MANCINELLI,Fabriano, Italy,ITA,Ferrari 488 GT3,29,Running,51:03.650,11.983
3,3, Pro,Michael CHRISTENSEN,Karlslunde, DNK,DNK,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),29,Running,51:23.832,32.165
4,4, Pro,Toni VILANDER,Kankaanpää,FIN,Ferrari 488 GT3,29,Running,51:24.192,32.525
5,5, Pro,Michael COOPER,Huntington, NY,USA,Mercedes-AMG GT3,29,Running,51:27.926,36.259
6,6, Pro,Scott HARGROVE,Tsawwassen, BC,CAN,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),29,Running,51:48.247,56.580
7,1, Am,Anthony IMPERATO,Brooklyn, NY,USA,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),29,Running,52:02.050,1:10.383
8,7, Pro,Mario FARNBACHER,Lichtenau,DEU,Acura NSX GT3,29,Running,52:07.909,1:16.242
9,2, Am,David ASKEW,Salt Lake City, UT,USA,Mercedes AMG-GT3,28,Running,51:08.379,1 LAP
10,8, Pro,Alvaro PARENTE,Porto, Portugal,PRT,Bentley Continental GT3,27,Not Running,48:29.883,2 LAPS