After R. Ferri took the spoils in Race 1, the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Scott Hargrove and Patrick Long took home the win from Sonoma Raceway on Sunday. This triumph marks the first victory this season for Wright Motorsports and the first win for a Porsche.
A late-race full course yellow set up a two-lap shootout where Hargrove, the two-time Porsche GT3 Cup Canada champion, had to defend the lead of the race. With Miguel Molina in the #61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 breathing down his neck, Hargrove soaked up the pressure and ended his fifteen-month winless drought.
“I feel like it’s been a hard luck year and it’s finally over,” said Hargrove. “The boys did a phenomenal job the Wright Motorsports guys were on it and we managed to jump the Ferrari. I’m just so happy to be back in victory lane. The Wright Motorsports guys have been the fastest in the pit lane all year.”
The #58 Porsche was started by Patrick Long who had the car up to third when he pitted. As Hargrove mentioned, the undercut strategy that the Wright Motorsports team called worked to perfection and by the time the pit cycle had played out, the car was up to second. Now having passed the #61 Ferrari in the pits Hargrove set his sights on his teammates in the #91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The #91 Porsche crew of Matt Campbell and Anthony Imperato, playing for the Pro-Am class win, did not make the pass for the lead hard for Hargrove. Once in the lead, Hargrove did not relinquish it and he fended off a hard-charging Molina on multiple occasions.
The championship-leading and aforementioned #61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari came home in second following the efforts of Toni Vilander and Molina. A win in yesterday’s race and another podium finish today leaves Molina and Vilander in a strong position in the championship entering the second half of the season.
Rounding out the podium was Andy Soucek and Alvaro Parente in the #9 K-PAX Racing Bentley GT3 Continental. Soucek passed Imperato for third with 26 minutes remaining but he was unable to pass the #61 Ferrari and Molina for second despite a series of attempts late in the going.
The Pro-Am victory went the way of the #14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R of Dirk Werner and James Sofronas. Sofronas moved passed Imperato in the carousel with just minutes to go, leaving Imperato to have to fend off Mike Hedlund in the #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3. Hedlund, with front-left damage following contact, soon worked his way into second.
That pass meant that Imperato and his teammate Matt Campbell had to settle for third in Pro-Am after a day that saw their #91 Porsche lead overall in the first half of the race with Campbell.
The two late-race restarts that bunched the field together came after Full Course Yellows. The first restart was set up following contact between the #7 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 and the #43 Acura.
Martin Fuentes, who was in the #7 Ferrari appeared to drift onto the sand on the exit of Turn 3A. This shot the #7 Ferrari into the side of the #43 Acura who was trying to pass at the time. The damage was significant enough to end the day for the #7 Ferrari but the #43 Acura was able to continue with minor damage to the front left.
The second and final late-race restart came with under five minutes to play. It was set up by a single-car incident in which David Askew in the #63 DXDT Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3 spun and made contact with the wall on the exit of the carousel.
The race’s first Full Course Yellow was forced the #19 One11 Competition Ferrari 488 GT3, when Andy Lally was left with a broken suspension following contact on the first lap. Lally tried to nurse the car back to the pits but the broken suspension forced the veteran-driver into the sand.
The #31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne retired from the race in the first twenty minutes of running. An electrical problem led to the retirement of the car in yesterday’s race and it appeared to be the same issue today.
Multiple drivers including Molina, Vilander, Campbell, and Long are now headed for Le Mans. The next round of the championship is set for Watkins Glen on August 30 to September 1.
Photo courtesy of World Challenge America