VETERAN VILANDER LEADS PWC GT PRACTICE ONE FRIDAY MORNING

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Two-time 24 Hours of LeMans winner Toni Vilnader of Finland paced the first Pirelli World Challenge GT practice session Friday morning in the 2018 PWC season opening event in the streets of St. Petersburg as part of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Vilander, driving the popular No. 61 RFerri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3, learned the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary circuit quickly with top time of one minute, 12.086 seconds to lead the 12-car field. Vilander is not a newcomer to the St. Pete street course, having raced in the American LeMans Series here in the 2000s.

Second in the 40-minute practice was former open-wheel star Scott Hargrove of Canada in the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R at 1:12.308 followed by Germany’s Daniel Keilwitz in the renown Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R at 1:12.459, Denmark’s Michael Christensen in the Tampa-based Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R at 1:12.790 and Canadian Daniel Morad in the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 at 1:13.023.

Defending St. Pete race winner and 2017 GT champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal debuted the new K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 Friday with seventh best time of 1:13.250.

The top GTA time Friday morning was set by 17-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunfels, Tex., in the No. 19 TruSpeed Motorsports Audi R8 LMS with a clocking of 1:13.759.

The second GT practice time Friday at St. Petersburg is schedule for 2:25 p.m. EST.