Following on from from Saturdays successful GT World Challenge America Am class 1-2 finish. AF Corse repeated the feat with another Am class 1-2 finish in Sundays race at Sonoma Raceway with drivers with Conrad Grunewald and Jean-Claude Saada. The next round of the championship will take place at Ozarks International Raceway in Grarvois Mills, Missouri on May 20-22.
AF Corse scored a weekend sweep with Conrad Grunewald and Jean-Claude Saada in the No. 61 Cambridge Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, giving the defending championship team 14 victories in the last 15 races.
After winning Saturday’s race with a late charge, Grunewald started from the class pole. He gained two overall positions during his stint, highlighted by a pass of veteran Bill Auberlen in the Hairpin on lap 13. Saada took over the controls during the pit stop window, powering to a class win at the checkered flag. But it was not a straightforward closing stint, as tire issues made for a tricky final segment ahead of the win.
“It was sketchy out there,” he admitted, “but we made it.”
Triarsi Competizione was in position to challenge for the second straight day before a caution at the end of the pit stop window with 39 minutes remaining proved costly. Both Onofrio Triarsi and Charlie Scardina led laps in the No. 23 Ferrari of Central Florida / Ferrari of Tampa Bay 488 GT3 Evo 2020 on Saturday, and the team looked to be in good position after the pit stop.
Scardina joined the race only seven seconds behind Saada when the caution waved. But instead of allowing Scardina to close in, the overall race leader was between the two cars, giving Saada an insurmountable one-lap lead. Saada placed 15th overall, three positions ahead of Scardina.
Triarsi Competizione also fielded the No. 13 Ferrari of Central Florida /Ferrari of Tampa Bay Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 for Ryan Dalziel and Justin Wetherill, which finished ninth in Pro-Am. The race finish marked a team turnaround from Saturday, when the fuel pump failed on only the second lap of the race, putting Wetherill on the sidelines.
Triarsi Competizione had a double-duty weekend, also running in both SRO Pirelli GT America powered by AWS races. After finishing seventh in Saturday’s 40-minute race, Wetherill placed fifth on Sunday in Triarsi’s No. 37 Ferrari of Central Florida Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. Gridded in seventh, Wetherill took fifth on the opening lap and held the position throughout the event, which was marked by two lengthy cautions.
Ferrari continued its winning ways in the SRO GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, scoring a 1-2 result for the Prancing Horse in the season-opener at Sonoma Raceway after a back and forth battle to the finish.
Conrad Grunewald ran down Onofrio Triarsi in a battle of Ferraris, taking the lead in the No. 61 Cambridge Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 for good with 14 laps remaining. Jean-Claude Saada had opened the race in the No. 61 entry on the way to delivering AF Corse its 13th class victory in the last 14 races – denying newcomer Triarsi Competizione its second triumph.
The victory turned around a trying weekend for defending champion AF Corse. The team had to change engines earlier in the weekend, and had contact in practice with its backup car.
“We had a really good package last year, and I’m hoping to continue where we left off,” Grunewald said. “It’s fun to have good competition. Onofrio and Charlie are great drivers, so it was a fun race. There was some bumping and banging, and driving through the mud, but we ended up on top. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
“I’m here to learn,” Saada said. “We’ve made massive changes and improvements from a year ago. I’m just delighted to have Conrad as my teammate and coach. It’s a blast to be here.”
With time running down, Grunewald passed Triarsi with 24 minutes remaining in the 90-minute contest. Triarsi – running his first full season in the series – fought back to regain the lead as Grunewald slid off course, and was able to hold off his more-experienced rival for several laps. With faster traffic closing on the pair, Grunewald retook the lead in three-wide traffic and was able to gap Triarsi,
Triarsi won the class pole and was ninth overall driving the No. 23 Ferrari of Central Florida /Ferrari of Tampa Bay /1337 /Elev8 488 GT3 Evo 2020 earlier Saturday in a rainy qualifying session on Saturday morning, timed at 1:55.409-seconds. Grunewald was the pole winner in the second 15-minute session to set the grid for Sunday’s race, running 1:52.291-seconds.
With the track dry for the afternoon race, Triarsi Competizione opted to start Charlie Scardina. He gained one overall position on the opening lap, running eighth overall in the 20-car field. Meanwhile Jean-Claude Saada was 14th overall for AF Corse before handing off to Grunewald at the 50-minute mark.
“I love this track, it’s awesome,” Scardina said after an impressive opening stint, which saw him lead the class and running eighth overall in the 20-car field. “It’s very flowing, and once you get a good rhythm, it goes fast. I’m very excited to be here in dry weather. The key is being patient, especially on a track that’s very abrasive over long stints, and keeping the tires in a good spot for the whole stint.”
Unfortunately, the No. 13 Ferrari of Central Florida /Ferrari of Tampa Bay Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 encountered fuel pump failure on the second lap of the race. Justin Wetherill was forced to pull off course and retired the car before Ryan Dalziel had the opportunity to drive. They were classified 13th in Pro-Am. Dalziel qualified fourth for Sunday’s Race 2, running a fast lap time of 1:52.811-seconds.
Wetherill is also competing for Triarsi Competizione in the SRO3 category, driving the No. 37 Ferrari of Central Florida Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. In Race 1, Wetherill drove a steady race, holding seventh position throughout the event. He qualified eighth overall and seventh in class, 1:53.455-seconds, earlier on Saturday.