ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Pro/Am Class driver duo Mike Hedlund and Dane Cameron, driving for local favorites RealTime Racing, took the overall and Pro/Am Blancpain GT World Challenge America victories at Road America on Sunday afternoon.
The Pro Division R. Ferri Motorsport team of Daniel Serra and Toni Vilander crossed the line in second overall and first in class.
The 90-minute contest was held under threatening skies and damp track conditions after rain had fallen on Road America for much of the morning and early afternoon. At the drop of the green, second-on-the-grid Cameron, piloting the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX drag raced pole sitter Kyle Marcelli in the No. 80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX into turn one and deftly maneuvered the outside line and into the lead.
With Marcelli slotting into second, Pro/Am division driver Matt Campbell in the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R settled into third, while Pro division driver Alvaro Parente in the no. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 rocketed up from his sixth starting position and into fourth. Ryan Dalziel, in the DXDT Racing No. 63 Mercedes-AMG GT3, slotted into fifth with Vilander, driving the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3, shuffling back from his fifth on the grid starting position and into sixth. Am division pilot Takuya Shirasaka in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW F13 M6 GT3 slotted into 12th overall.
Cameron then set sail building a more than five-second lead over Marcelli leading up to the pit window with 50 minutes remaining in the contest. The lead group all held their positions as the pit window opened. Cameron was the last competitor onto pit lane handing the reins over to Hedlund.
When the window closed, Hedlund maintained a three-second lead over Barkey who had taken over for Marcelli, with Anthony Imperato who had taken over for Campbell in third overall. Andy Soucek, who took over from Parente maintained fourth. Serra took over from Vilander and began pursuing K-PAX Racing’s Rodrigo Baptista in the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3.
With Hedlund hitting his marks and maintaining the lead up from, the battle behind raged as Serra closed on Baptista battling for fifth overall. Barkey in second defended well against Imperato as Parente closed in on the Pro/Am competitors running in fourth. Late in the contest on lap 33, Parente moved around Imperato and into third overall and looked to close on Barkey. Meanwhile, Serra continued to look for a way around Baptista.
Then the DXDT Racing No. 63 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by David Askew slid off and into the barrier through turn 11. While Race Control issued a yellow and directed competitors to safety car speed, Askew was able to get his machine under power and proceeded to bring it into pit lane for repair. Race control issued a return to full green conditions and the front runners all returned to pursuing Hedlund. Serra was able to maintain his momentum and it allowed him to vault up into second overall by lap 36.
Serra then pursued Hedlund for the overall race lead with under four laps to go, but the driver of the No. 43 machine put his head down, hit his marks and crossed the line .495 seconds ahead of the driver of the No. 61 machine. With the second-place finish, Vilander wins the 2019 Pro Division driver’s championship. Soucek (Parente) finished third and second overall in the Pro Division, Baptista (Soulet) finished fourth and third in the Pro Division. Barkey (Marcelli) finished sixth overall and second in Pro/Am, while Imperato (Campbell) finished seventh overall and third in Pro/Am. Am division pilot Naoto Takeda (Shirasaka) in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW F13 M6 GT3 finished 11th overall.
The victory for the RealTime Racing duo was the squad’s 100th series victory.
“I didn’t even know Realtime had that many wins until after Sonoma and after that both Dane and I said to each other okay now there’s a little bit of pressure because that’s a big deal, especially if we were able to get it here at their home track so it’s kind of been the perfect weekend,” said Hedlund. “I can’t ask for anything more, the team did a really amazing job, we had no mistakes, pitstops were excellent, the car was good from the time we unloaded. Even with this questionable weather which mixes it up, everyone executed well, and we were able to get a win.”