Elkhart Lake (Wisconsin, USA), August 21, 2023 - Conquest Racing w/ Ferrari completed a weekend sweep in dominant fashion at the National Park of Speed as Manny Franco and Alessandro Balzan secured back-to-back wins in the #21 Corsa Horizon Ferrari 296 GT3, also marking the model’s first victories on North American soil.
Franco secured pole position for the opening race of the weekend with a rapid flying lap time of 2:03.486. As he took the green flag to kick off the race, he retained the lead of the field and remained unfazed by the numerous cautions that occurred over the course of his stint. He handed over the prancing horse to Balzan, who re-emerged on track in the lead.
Balzan began to establish a healthy gap to the competitors behind, with 4.7 seconds separating him from the next closest driver with 30 minutes remaining on the clock. The Italian continued to set personal best laps, and held onto the fastest lap of the race for a significant amount of time. He maintained his speed and focus, and was ultimately untouchable as he took the checkered flag with an impressive 5.5 second gap to the runner-up.
Conquest Racing started from the second row for Sunday’s race, with Balzan completing the first stint. He had some early challenges to contend with as he came under threat from other competitors, finding himself in a number of both offensive and defensive battles as he fought hard to maintain position before handing over the machine to Franco with 41 minutes remaining.
Franco took control of the wheel, returning to the track sitting fifth overall and second in class position. He completed an early move on a PRO-AM competitor to move up to fourth overall as he set his sights on the rest of the field ahead.
A full course caution came out with 30 minutes remaining in the race, which tightened the field back together as they prepared for a final sprint in the last 10 minutes as the race returned to green. Franco was now sitting third overall, but the team had received a 2.2 second time penalty as the result of a short pit stop.
On the restart, Franco completed a swift overtake to move into second overall, and was promoted to first shortly thereafter as the lead car suffered an issue that saw it tumble down the running order. From there, the Milwaukee native’s focus was to drive cleanly in the final laps and build a gap to the cars behind. As he crossed the finish line, he had more than doubled his existing lead, securing the team’s second win of the weekend at his home track.
“I was definitely pushing very hard during my stint,” explained Manny Franco. “I had a couple of imperfect moments and ran a bit wide on the second to last lap at The Carousel, but overall I’m very happy with the performance and it was a very exciting second stint. I’m thrilled, the whole team is thrilled, this has been a really great weekend.”
“I’m super excited and proud to be part of Conquest Racing and Corsa Horizon,” Balzan agreed. “Manny did a phenomenal job both yesterday and today, and I’m so pleased to be sharing the car with him. I’m thrilled to have won here and to be able to celebrate the Ferrari 296 GT3’s first wins in Road America. It was the perfect weekend, and it’s even more special to be able to win at Manny’s home track. We can’t wait for Sebring!”
The team will return for the next round at Sebring International Raceway, taking place from September 22nd to 24th, 2023.