LAS VEGAS (19 October 2019) – Undefeated champions in the Am Cup, Squada Corse completed its step up to the Pro-Am class in the Blancpain GT World Challenge America by winning Saturday night’s season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Martin Fuentes passed for the lead with 15 minutes remaining and went on to win in the No. 7 Squadra Corse Hublot/Ferrari Ft. Lauderdale Ferrari 488 GT3 started by Renger van der Zande.
Fuentes finished fourth overall in only his fourth race in the Pro-Am category. It was his ninth victory of the season. He won all eight of his starts en route to capturing the championship in the Am Cup class before moving up to Pro-Am in the most recent weekend at Road America.
Van der Zande – the winner of the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona – started fifth but took fourth on the opening lap. He challenged fellow Ferrari driver Alessandro Balzan throughout the opening 30 minutes before falling back to fifth.
A quick pit stop by the Squadra Corse crew put Fuentes back in the race in third position. Fuentes worked his way up to the lead with a pair of on-track passes on the narrow circuit, winning by 3.384-seconds.
The Las Vegas schedule had both races on Saturday, with competitors also tackling the nine-turn, 2.5-mile circuit in a 90-minute morning event. Fuentes qualified fourth for the opener, and was running third before going wide in the final turn and dropping to fifth on lap 16.
The Squadra Corse pit crew then delivered an amazing stop, with Fuentes turning the car over to van der Zande on lap 26 while the crew completed the stop only four-tenths of a second over the minimum.
Van der Zande returned in the race in fourth but was bumped back to a fifth-place finish. Following the event, stewards ruled unnecessary contact by the competitor and the Squadra Corse Ferrari was elevated to a fourth-place finish.
The finale marked the conclusion of a second-consecutive championship for Fuentes, who won 21 races for Squadra Corse over that span. The Mexican driver won nine of 10 races in capturing the 2018 World Challenge GT SprintX Am title by 66 points, and also took the GTA title with four victories and three seconds in seven events.