FERRARI’S FUENTES ENJOYS SPECIAL PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE SEASON WITH RECORD NINE VICTORIES IN GTA CLASS IN 2016
Mexico City Driver Starts 2016 Campaign with Seven Straight Wins
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – Martin Fuentes could not have asked for a better start to his 2016 Pirelli World Challenge racing series with seven consecutive GTA class victories in seven starts.
The Mexico City driver wheeled his No. 07 Hublot/Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia to impressive performances at prestigious road circuits such as Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the streets of St. Petersburg and Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park.
“That was a magical start for the Scuderia Corsa team this year,” said Fuentes, who totaled a class record nine wins in 2016. “They prepared such a great machine for me that it was a pleasure to drive the Hublot Ferrari 458.”
Fuentes and his Ferrari were not just winning in the GTA division either. The personable racer was right in the middle of the more-experienced GT category at times including a top-six overall finish at COTA and an eighth overall at the legendary Long Beach Grand Prix.
Only in his second season in the Pirelli World Challenge, Fuentes continued his stellar performances with seven second-place runs to win the GTA class championship by 74 points over Porsche’s Michael Schien and 2015 GTA title holder Frankie Montecalvo in a Mercedes.
“In my first year in the series (2015), I felt like I was learning a lot about the car as well as the series overall,” said Fuentes, who won three GTA races as a rookie. “I was driving on some new road circuits and in the middle of a tough GT field too. So, when the 2016 season began, I was prepared for the fight for the championship. To be honest, I didn’t expect to win the first seven races of the season. But things felt just right for us as a team and the Scuderia Corsa crew was outstanding throughout the season.”
Fuentes actually began his racing career at age eight in the water, competing in Jet-Skis. He later moved to motorcycles and captured three national championships in Mexico. But a motorcycle incident ended his two-wheel career and he jumped right into karting with shifter karts.
It was onto the open-wheel divisions for Martin and then to sports cars where he began winning races on a regular basis in North America, South America and his home country, Mexico. He competed in a variety of international racing events including LATAM Challenge Series, PanAm GP, Abarth Formula, Super Copa Seat Telcel, 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring.
“Moving into the Pirelli World Challenge was an outstanding position for me,” said Fuentes, whose wife Jacky is a popular television actress in Mexico. “I have really enjoyed the competition and the atmosphere within the series. It’s great fun to talk to the racing fans too and sign autographs. The racing action in the series is just superb. And I look forward to running for the GTA championship again in 2017.”
Martin knows the competition level is expected to be even tougher when the first green flag drops on March 11 in the streets of St. Petersburg.
“I know I have a great team in Scuderia Corsa but the competition with the likes of Michael (Schien), Frankie (Montecalvo) and others will be very difficult,” Fuentes said. “Just like in 2016, we will be concentrating on the big picture and that means winning races and going for the title.
It will be very hard to have a start of the season like this year with seven straight wins. But I will be pushing as hard as possible. Our goal is to win the championship again.”
With the Scuderia Corsa squad again behind Fuentes for 2017, the GTA category must keep its eye on the popular Mexican competitor as he seeks to repeat a “magical” season with a new Ferrari 488 Italia scheduled for the Pirelli World Challenge season.
“I can’t wait to get a chance with the new Ferrari 488 model,” said Martin. “It looks like a beautiful machine and I expect the car to be very competitive in 2017. I’m extremely excited to get behind the wheel of that beauty!”
Fuentes and the rest of the GT/GTA/GT Cup competitors will open the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season March 10-12 for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.