It’s A Sweep Weekend For Fuentes & Baptista

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Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista swept the weekend in GT World Challenge America competition Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.
Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista swept the weekend in GT World Challenge America competition Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

AUSTIN, Texas – Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista piloted their Ferrari 488 GT3 their second-straight Pro/Am and overall GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Series victory at Circuit of the Americas Sunday afternoon.

Shelby Blackstock and Trent Hindman took their Acura NSX GT3 to a second-straight Silver division win.

Fred Poordad and Jan Heylen finished third overall in the race and second in Pro/Am. David Askew and Ryan Dalziel finished third in Pro/Am. Alec Udell and Russell Ward finished second in the Silver division.

Baptista led the field to green in the No. 1 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3. Heylen who started second in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (991.II), drag raced to the inside and squeezed through into the lead through turn one. Baptista slotted into second. Hindman, in the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3, and Kyle Marcelli, in the Racer’s Edge No. 80 Acura NSX GT3, both moved around Ryan Dalziel, who was driving the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

With Heylen building a 1.5 second lead over Baptista by lap five, the two leaders had pulled away from the pack. Hindman, Marcelli and Dalziel closed up to battle for third overall. By lap eight, Marcelli closed on Hindman, with Dalziel waiting in the wings.

On lap 14, Hindman and Marcelli went door-to-door through turn 11 and drag raced down the back straight. Marcelli out braked through turn 12 to complete the pass. Then on lap 22, Dalziel would pass Hindman through turn 11, just as the pit window opened at the 45-minute mark. At the window, Heylen held a six-second advantage over Baptista.

The leaders Heylen, Baptista, Dalziel and Hindman all stayed out until near the end of the pit window. The focus then switched to the action on pit road as Heylen came in for Poordad, Baptista changed over to Fuentes, Dalziel gave the seat over to Askew, and Hindman handed the reins to Blackstock.

Once the charts recycled, Poordad remained in the lead by 2.9 seconds over Fuentes, with Askew and Blackstock third and fourth.

By lap 27, Blackstock had closed on Askew and passed for position through turn 12. A lap later Fuentes had closed the gap on Poordad and passed for the lead sweeping around the outside of turns 16 and 17. Blackstock then pursued Poordad and by lap 34 moved up into second overall through turn 11.

From there the leaders held position and Fuentes crossed the line 7.9 seconds ahead of Blackstock. After the win Fuentes and Baptista lead in the Pro/Am Division driver’s standings by 49 points.

“We were focused 100 percent on getting the car faster and faster this weekend. Rodrigo and the team did a great job. I’m impressed and thankful to the team,” said Fuentes. “And now Rodrigo and I are in the lead in the championship again.”

“Missing that first practice session of the weekend really hurt us and unfortunately we also discovered an issue with the car in practice two, but overall we are happy with two podiums this weekend,” Baptista said. “So thankful for the Racer’s Edge team, they worked their tails off this weekend to get us on the podium. We’ll take the points and look forward to Indy.”

In other action, Mark Issa held off Jason Daskalos to score the GT Sports Club Overall GT3 class win. Ryan Gates took the GT2 class win.