Here are the highlights from all of the eight races that took place over the weekend:
Vilander and Molina (centre), Hargrove and Henzler (right)
“This was my first race with Miguel, but he has a lot of experience with the Ferrari in the Blancpain Series in Europe,” said Vilander. “We had a great pit stop and that helped us gain the advantage. We practice the driver change a lot. His input on the car and the various information we received was a big help too. We were aiming at that minimum time in the pits. Miguel pulled out of the pits with the lead and he did a great job extending the lead to the checkered flag. The past few weeks has (sic) been stressful on Remo with his family situation and my crash at St. Pete. The team is really professional and gives us a great car.”
“I was able to build a gap after the pit stop and I held the lead at that point,” said Molina. “This win is very good for the team especially what has happened in the past week and month to the family. I want to thank Ferrari R. Ferri Motorsport for this opportunity to race with the team. This is my first time teaming with Toni and my second season as a factory Ferrari driver. So, winning today was very special for me.”
“I found a good pace at the beginning,” said Molina, who began the one-hour event for R. Ferri Motorsport Sunday. “I overtook the white Ferrari in the last corner early. Things were a bit easier after that when I started to find my own rhythm and pace. After that, I tried to just increase the gap as much as possible to make Toni (Vilander’s) job easier in the car. Today, we struggled a little bit more than we did yesterday, but what matters is that we scored our second consecutive win. We are really happy with everything and we’re doing a good job together, especially since this was my first race with Toni and the team. I think there’s no better way to start the season or a championship than this weekend.”
“I think overall what mixes up the field a little bit is that we have a limited amount (sic) of tires,” said Vilander. “Some cars in the field had sticky tires, some had used tires and some had qualifying tires. We did a later stop – everything worked out to plan. I had the gap, but the Mercedes behind me was closing quite aggressively. I was building up the tire pressures and temperatures because I thought it would be a difficult race. So, I still kept pushing and the car started feeling better and better each lap. I saw behind me that they were going into some corners side-by-side. There were cars that we were lapping in traffic and I knew that was the key moment. I think that was the crucial moment. What’s funny that you might not see out there is that every session, we had a very different setup from yesterday’s race.”
“We didn’t have the fastest car, but everything went flawlessly from a team point of view and the pit stop was good,” said Maxwell. “I didn’t really do too much. I had the two green laps because of all the cautions so my role was pretty easy. It was just to hand Jade (Buford) a good car, after two laps it was just nice and warm for him. We had a good pit stop, everything went well, Jade drove a flawless last stint. I think we were a bit fortunate, but that’s the way that it works. The car felt good, but it was frustrating behind the pace car for the first twenty minutes.”
The all-Canadian driving team of Nick Wittmer from Laval, Quebec and Samantha Tan Gormley, Ontario finished fifth overall in their BMW M4 GT4. Canadians Kyle Marcelli from Barrie, Ontario and Orey Fidani from Toronto, Ontario finished eighteenth overall in their Pfaff Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR.
Tan and Wittmer (right)
“Michael did a great job and he had a good start,” said Wilkins, the former PWC GT and GTS race winner from Mulmur, Ont., Canada. “We were side by side in turn one and the track was a little dirty outside of turn two and I didn’t want to press the issue. It was a great 1-2 result for the Hyundai i30 N TCR in its North American debut and we are thrilled with that. It is a start of a great new class and a great product. We did have some issues today with tire degradation and we have been learning every session since we didn’t test before last week. All in all, a great result for the N brand for Hyundai and for Bryan Herta Autosport. And I’ll start from the pole again on Sunday too.”
“It’s a big team effort and want to thank everyone at Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai and my teammate Mark,” said Lewis. “Mark got me in qualifying and we had a clean race into turn two. Under braking, he is better than me (sic) and he was pushing me. I really appreciate his help in this project. The Hyundai i30 N TCR was solid throughout the race and we need to consider tire life after this race. On the last lap, I saw a lapped car going very slow in a yellow flag area and I couldn’t pass him. Finally, I was able to get by the car and hold off Mark on the final lap for the win. Bryan said to get a clean start and see how the race developed. He wanted us to keep both car up front. We have a lot of Hyundai people here this weekend that made this program possible and I want to thank them for their efforts.”
Complete results can be found at the Pirelli World Challenge website. The next round of Pirelli World Challenge racing action takes place April 13-15 at the Grand Prix of Long Beach in southern California.
PHOTOGRAPHS © Copyright Pirelli World Challenge