- Filgueiras, McAleer Lead PRO Class
- 16 Points Separate Leader from Second Place
- Estep and Lucas Turn Consistency into Third Place
Three events remain on the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS calendar including the Indianapolis 8 Hour in October. The remaining five races will shape the points championships as the race season comes to a close.
In the PRO Class, Eric Filgueiras and Steven McAleer with the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 911 GT3 R have proved that the ladder system in SRO America works wonders. This is the pairing's first season in the PRO Class and they are the current points leaders in the Drivers Championship. Filgueiras and McAleer hold steady in first with 145 points. The duo has made their way to the podium more times than not this year with three wins and three podium finishes under their belts.
“We currently have a 16-point lead which we’ve been maintaining since NOLA,” Filgueiras said. “It hasn’t been easy because we’ve had our own ups and downs. We won at COTA but unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalize on a big points day because the Acura finished second and the next day we finished second to their win. We’re working on maximizing our performance because that is all we can control. We’re working on making our team, the car, and the drivers better. I’m confident we can pull this off and get it done. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I’m looking forward to it.”
"It is our first season of GT3 and leading the points in the PRO class has certainly blown everyone away on expectations,” McAleer said. “Community Beer Works, RS1 and Eric Filguerias are all new to GT3 Racing; it is very cool to see us at the top of the standings. Now, however, comes more pressure to perform and not make mistakes.
“The last race weekend at VIR, we were not fast. We had car issues all weekend and did not have pace, but we salvaged one podium to keep us in the lead even though the gap narrowed to our rivals. We need a strong showing at Road America and Sebring to try keep the lead we have leading into the final race at Indianapolis."
The 2022 Pro-Am Champions are hot on the heels of the RS1 teammates. Ashton Harrison and Mario Farnbacher have taken the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 to the front of the field for the finish twice this season and finished on the podium three times. Harrison and Farnbacher had found bouts of bad luck over the season but if the 2022 finish taught fans anything, it's to wait until the final checkered flag flies. The duo has 129 points apiece.
Trent Estep and Seth Lucas are another new pair in the PRO Class with MDK Motorsports. The No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R has been a consistent threat to the podium over the season. Lucas and Estep always find themselves within striking distance of taking home hardware by staying close to the competition and more predominantly, staying clean on track. While the two drivers still have to tick the win box, they have five podiums to their names. They sit in third with 110 points total.
Chandler Hull and Bill Auberlen are breathing down Estep and Lucas’ necks with 108 points in the Driver’s Points Championship. Hull and Auberlen have fought tooth and nail over the course of eight races. A bit of rough racing took the No. 94 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT3 out of contention in a few races but Hull and Auberlen haven’t let that deter their determination. They’ve taken home one win and three podium finishes to carry them to their current standing.
“This season has had some ups and downs so far,” Hull said. “We’ve been strong at moments that resulted in a win and many podiums for our TACenergy BMW M4 GT3. But we’ve also had some struggles that we couldn’t claw back from.
“Between incidents and personal and team mistakes we have made it harder on ourselves now that we’re in the second half of the season. I know that the BimmerWorld team can deliver us a good car week in and week out, but we need to make it a priority to be flawless. That’s really what these weekends are about. No mistakes and making sure we stay out of trouble.”
Manny Franco and Alessandro Balzan aren’t without luck though it seems to follow them through to the finish line rarely. The duo has been on the receiving end of many bumps and bruises over the course of the season. Franco has used 2023 to build his racecraft amongst the best of the best Ferrari drivers in Balzan. The pair have stacked up two podium finishes amounting to 82 points in total. With the Ferrari 296 GT3 in the garage, wins are still possible.
"My first season competing in the PRO Class in GT World Challenge America has been an exciting challenge so far. We've had our ups and downs throughout the year, but it has allowed me to grow and develop my skills as a driver. Learning how to challenge for wins has been just as important as dealing with tough days at the track, and everything in between. Working with Alessandro has been a great experience, I've learned so much from him and we work very well together.
We've had a bit of extra ground to make up following the impact at COTA. It's been frustrating at times since we lost out on a good amount of championship points, but everyone at the team is focused on finishing the season on a good note. I'm confident we'll be back on the podium soon."
Kenton Koch and Daniel Morad joined in the PRO Class fun at VIRginia International Raceway. While the TR3 Racing team and Morad typically race in the PRO-AM Class Ziad Ghandour was unable to join the mid-season rounds of racing so Koch stepped up to the plate and together he and Morad stepped up a class. The duo took back-to-back wins at VIR.
“It was great to step up to the pro class and fight for overall victory in VIR,” Morad said. “Kenton stepped into the program and fit very well. We have a great relationship off the track already, so it was a seamless weekend for us. The team executed perfectly, and we delivered a double victory; I’m looking forward to driving with Ziad at Road America and completing the season together.”
Road America welcomes the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS back to action Aug. 18-20. Tickets are now on sale. For those watching from home join the series on the YouTube GT World page or on Twitch with Ash Vandelay.