Molina & Vilander Earn Sonoma World Challenge Spoils

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Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander on their way to victory Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.
Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander on their way to victory Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.

SONOMA, Calif. – Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander drove their R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari to a dominating win in Saturday afternoon’s Blancpain GT World Challenge America race at Sonoma Raceway.

Molina and Vilander led flag to flag in the 90-minute, 53-lap contest. RealTime Racing’s Mike Hedlund and Dane Cameron finished first in the Pro/Am category, while Squadra Corse’s Caeser Bacarella and Martin Fuentes finished first in the Am category.

Pole sitter Molin went side by side through turn one at the start with second starter Scott Hargrove. Hargrove was squeezed wide and his Porsche’s right side wheels were nudged off the edge of the track allowing K-PAX’s No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 piloted by Rodrigo Baptista to move into second.

Hargrove slid back into line in third while Andy Soucek slotted into fourth. Hedlund, competing at his home track, completed the top-five overall through first lap. Bacarella, piloting the No. 7 Ferrari 488 GT3 slotted into 15th overall and first in Am.

By lap five Molina had built a 3.2-second lead over Baptista, while Hargrove began closing on the driver of the No. 3 machine. Hargrove would eventually move to battle side by side with Baptista but couldn’t execute a pass for second. With Baptista holding off Hargrove, Molina grew his lead to 5.6 seconds. By lap 14, Molina held a 10-second lead on Baptista who continued to hold off Hargrove.

In Pro/Am, Hedlund continued to run in fifth overall and first in class. Behind him series veteran James Sofronas, Team Principle and driver for the Southern California based GMG Racing in his No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R battled with Anthony Imperato, second and third in class respectively.

At the start of lap 22, Hargrove would finally find a way around Baptista as the two competitors drag raced side by side down the front straight. Hargrove held the inside line through turn one to execute the pass for second.

The 10-minute pit window opened on lap 23 allowing teams to make driver changes as well as refueling and tire changes. At the end of the pit window, Vilander now at the wheel of the No. 61 machine maintained the race lead with Maxime Soulet, who had taken over for Baptista, in second. The No. 61 Ferrari’s lead over the No. 3 Bentley had been cut down to 3.5 seconds. Alvaro Parente, who had taken over for Soucek, slotted into third.

In Pro/Am, Cameron took over for Hedlund and maintained the lead in class, up into sixth overall in the race. Matt Campbell assumed the No. 91 machine from Imperato and moved into 8th overall, while Sofronas’ co-pilot Dirk Werner slotted into ninth overall and third in class. In the Am class, Fuentes assumed the No. 7 machine,14th overall.

In the late stages of the race, Vilander would push the lead to 4.5 seconds over Soulet. Parente remained in third. In Pro/Am, the top three maintained their positions with Cameron first in class and fifth overall, Campbell second in class, seventh overall, and Werner third in class and eighth overall.

At the checkered, Vilander crossed the line 2.2 seconds over Soulet, with Parente taking third. In Pro/Am Cameron finished first, over Campbell and Werner. In Am, Fuentes finished 13th overall and first in class.