ALTON, Virginia – The Racers Edge Motorsports teams of Kyle Marcelli/Martin Barkey and Shelby Blackstock/Trent Hindman scored both the Pro/Am and Silver Division GT World Challenge America powered by AWS series victories in Round 3 at VIRginia International Raceway. The TR3 Racing team of Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista crossed the line third overall and second in Pro/Am. Teammates Bill Sweedler and co-driver John Megrue powered the TR3 Racing #31 Ferrari 488 GT3 to the Am division win.
Silver Division competitor Blackstock in the #93 Acura NSX GT3 led the field to green to begin the 90-minute contest held under hot and sunny 89-degree Fahrenheit conditions. Through turn 1 Blackstock nosed ahead of second-on-the-grid Pro/Am driver Kris Wilson in the #33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Behind them Am Division pilot Fred Poordad in the #20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R maintained his starting position slotting into third.
Behind them a hard charging Barkey, in the #80 Acura NSX GT3 moved up into fourth, after starting sixth. By the end of lap 1, Blackstock had opened a 1.3 second gap over Wilson as the driver of the #33 machine held off challenges from Poordad.
By lap 3, Blackstock had opened a 2.2 second lead over Wilson. On the same lap, Fuentes in the #1 Ferrari 488 GT3 deftly passed Barkey for fourth through turn 15.
Race control then issued a full-course caution and safety crews were dispatched to retrieve the disabled #57 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT2 RS CS driven by GT Sports Club competitor Stu Frederick. Frederick's machine contacted the #31 Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Megrue. Megrue was able to right his machine and continue in the race.
For the lap 7 restart, Blackstock perfectly timed the drop of the green and rocketed away leaving Wilson, Poordad and Fuentes in a three-way battle.
By lap 13, Blackstock had opened a 3.6 second gap on Wilson, who had pulled away from Poordad as Fuentes hounded the driver of the #20 machine for third. Poordad's Porsche then suffered a mechanical issue through the climbing esses allowing Fuentes to move up into third. Poordad would limp his Porsche around the track and bring his machine into pit lane for repairs.
With the pit window open at the halfway mark of the race, Blackstock held a 6.5 second lead and remained out to maximize track position. On lap 21 with the window still open the racing gods struck as Wilson's machine lost power and sat deadsticked on the edge of the racetrack. Race Control issued a full-course yellow and the lead Blackstock held vanished. Wilson was ultimately able to re-fire his machine and return to the track under power. Blackstock entered the pits to change over to Hindman but the damage was done, and a shuffling of positions ensued.
The lap 27 restart saw a new leader with Fuentes' teammate Rodrigo Baptista behind the wheel and atop the charts ahead of Marcelli who took over the reins of the #80 machine from Barkey. Sitting in third was Hindman. Colin Braun, in the #04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 was fourth, while his DXDT Racing teammate Ryan Dalziel in the #63 Mercedes-AMG GT3 sat fifth. Bill Sweedler, who took over for Megrue, came to the restart line in sixth and first in the Am class.
Marcelli began an immediate challenge of Baptista for the lead after the restart and through turn 17 skillfully executed a pass to head the field. Then on lap 30 Hindman passed Baptista for second.
For the balance of the race Marcelli was able to maintain a comfortable gap over Hindman and at the checkered won by .654 seconds. Baptista crossed in third, ahead of Dalziel in 4th, and Braun in 5th. Sweedler crossed in 6th overall and first in Am Division.
Provisionally, Fuentes/Baptista maintain their lead in the Pro/Am Driver's Championship, with 58 points, ahead of Kurtz/Braun with 48 points and Marcelli/Barkey with 47 points. For Marcelli and Barkey, the defending 2019 champions, it's their first trip to victory circle in 2020 after getting off to an inauspicious start at COTA finishing out of the top three for both Rounds in Texas.
"We had better pace at COTA than the results there really showed, it just wasn't our race weekend," said Barkey. "It's a great turnaround for us here. I have to tip my hat to the Racers Edge crew and of course the Acura. It's such a great car to drive."
Results are provisional until posted final. GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Series teams and competitors now get set for Sunday Round 4 scheduled for a green flag start of 1:45pm local time. Watch the race live on youtube.com/GTWorld and on CBS Sports Network.
RACE 1 PROVISIONAL RESULTS - PDF Link