Italian newcomer has won a GT pole and a SprintX GT race already this year

BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Canada – Young Daniel Mancinelli was so unknown at the Pirelli World Challenge season opener at the streets of St. Petersburg that the Italian driver didn’t have a driver rating for the GT class.

In fact, Mancinelli, the 28-year-old, 5-foot-3 driver from San Severino, Italy, was listed in the amateur class initially with his No. 31 TR3 Racing/The Collection Ferrari 488 GT3 in the first round of practice last March at St. Petersburg.

Then Mancinelli won the overall pole position for the 50-minute GT Sprint race on Saturday. The PWC officials looked deeper into Daniel’s racing past and found the former karting and open-wheel racing champion had been winning GT races in his native Italy and throughout Europe.

Mancinelli was reclassified into the PWC pro ranks shortly after.

“This is a good track for the Ferrari and I love America right now,” said Mancinelli following his GT pole. “Last year, I raced just two races in the Ferrari Challenge in the U.S. Those are my only American races before. I have raced the Ferrari Challenge in Europe as well as the Italian GT series. I drove a McLaren in the GT championship two years ago and last year I drove a Ferrari. I started in karting in Italy and then drove in open-wheel cars and Formula Three before moving into sports cars in 2012.“

The brief history lesson in his sports car experience helped better explain his unexpected P1 qualification that day. And the personable Italian hasn’t disappointed since that St. Petersburg pole.

He scored a top-ten finish at St. Petersburg and a fourth at Long Beach in April. Then he and Italian teammate Andrea Montermini captured the first SprintX GT race of the season and placed fourth in the second SprintX GT contest. Mancinelli and Montermini lead the current SprintX GT point standings as Daniel heads to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 19-21 for SprintX Rounds 3 and 4.

“I’m excited for the first win for me and for the TR3 Racing team in the Pirelli World Challenge,” Daniel said. “We were looking for a victory after winning the poles at St. Petersburg. We have been competitive in the early races but the win is fantastic. The team really deserved the win for all of the work done since the beginning of the year. Now in the SprintX Championship, we are leading the points going to CTMP. I’m looking forward to that race track.”

The victory for the Italian pair was despite a mid-race incident that saw Mancinelli slide off the track after contact with Pierre Kaffer. Daniel was able to pit for a driver change to Montermini and Andrea held the top position over Andrew Davis by a mere two-tenths of a second.

“Fortunately, the last lap before the pit stop, I was overtaking a GT4 car at the back of the track on corners 8 and 9,” said Mancinelli. “Kaffer was running quicker but I was overtaking the GT4 car and we made contact and spun off the track. The car wasn’t damaged too much and then I dropped the car off to Andrea (Montermini) and he did a good job. After the caution, we ended up with a fantastic win.”

Mancinelli comes to CTMP with a new teammate in the No. 31 TR# Racing Ferrari 488 GT, as another young Italian racing star, Niccolo Schiro, will be making his Pirelli World Challenge debut. Schiro, 23, was the 2012 European F3 open-wheel series champion.

The talent-filled field of SprintX GT3 cars and drivers is set for the three-day Victoria Day Speedfest at the 2.459-mile, 10-turn legendary road circuit northeast of Toronto with sports cars such as Acura, Audi, Aston Martin, Bentley, Cadillac, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Nissan and Porsche. Drivers like PWC GT champions Alvaro Parente, Patrick Long and Johnny O’Connell will lead the driver lineup with Mancinello, Schiro, Ryan Dalziel, Bryan Sellers, Ricky and Jordan Taylor, Ryan Eversley and local Toronto area drivers Daniel Morad and Kyle Marcelli, who’ll pilot the Toronto-based R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.

Some 100 cars overall are entered for the three-day CTMP racing weekend that will have doubleheader races in seven divisions (SprintX — GT, GTA, GT Cup; GT4/GTS and Touring Car, TCA and TCB). PWC race lengths for the SprintX GT/GTA/GT Cup will be 60 minutes (two drivers) and GT4/GTS class will be 50 minutes. The Touring Car/TCA/TCB classes will be 40 minutes.

All races will stream live for free on www.motortrendondemand.com and www.world-challenge.com.