Racers Edge Drivers Control VIR GT Battle

Racers Edge Motorsports controlled Saturday's GT World Challenge America event at Virginia Int'l Raceway.
Racers Edge Motorsports controlled Saturday's GT World Challenge America event at Virginia Int'l Raceway.

ALTON, Virginia – The Racers Edge Motorsports teams of Kyle Marcelli and Martin Barkey and Shelby Blackstock and Trent Hindman each collected victories during Saturday’s GT World Challenge America event at Virginia Int’l Raceway.

Marcelli and Barkey topped the Pro/Am class while Blackstock and Hindman claimed the Silver division victory.

The TR3 Racing team of Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista crossed the line third overall and second in Pro/Am. Teammates Bill Sweedler and co-driver John Megrue powered the TR3 Racing No. 31 to the Am division win.

Blackstock led the field to green to begin the 90-minute contest. Through turn one Blackstock nosed ahead of Kris Wilson. Behind them, Am Division pilot Fred Poordad in the maintained his starting position slotting into third.

Behind them a hard charging Barkey moved up into fourth after starting sixth. By the end of lap one, Blackstock had opened a 1.3 second gap over Wilson, who held off challenges from Poordad.

By lap three Blackstock had opened a 2.2 second lead over Wilson. On the same lap, Fuentes deftly passed Barkey for fourth through turn 15.

Race control then issued a full-course caution and safety crews were dispatched to retrieve the disabled No. 57 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT2 RS CS driven by GT Sports Club competitor Stu Frederick. Frederick’s machine made contact with the No. 31 Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Megrue. Megrue was able to right his machine and continue in the race.

For the lap seven restart, Blackstock perfectly timed the drop of the green and rocketed away leaving Wilson, Poordad and Fuentes in a three-way battle.

By lap 13, Blackstock had opened a 3.6 second gap on Wilson, who had pulled away from Poordad as Fuentes hounded the driver of the No. 20 machine for third. Poordad’s Porsche then suffered a mechanical issue through the climbing esses, allowing Fuentes to move up into third. Poordad would limp his Porsche around the track and bring his machine into pit lane for repairs.

With the pit window open at the halfway mark of the race, Blackstock held a 6.5 second lead and remained out to maximize track position. On lap 21 with the window still open bad luck struck as Wilson’s machine lost power and sat deadsticked on the edge of the race track. Race control issued a full-course yellow and the lead Blackstock held vanished. Wilson was ultimately able to re-fire his machine and return to the track under power. Blackstock entered the pits for the driver change, handing the car to Hindman but the damage was done, and a shuffling of positions ensued.

The lap 27 restart saw a new leader with Fuentes’ teammate Rodrigo Baptista behind the wheel and atop the charts ahead of Marcelli, who took over the reins of the No. 80 machine from Barkey. Sitting in third was Hindman. Colin Braun was fourth, while his DXDT Racing teammate Ryan Dalziel sat fifth. Bill Sweedler, who took over for Megrue, came to the restart line in sixth and first in the Am class.

Marcelli began an immediate challenge of Baptista for the lead after the restart and through turn 17 skillfully executed a pass to head the field. Then on lap 30 Hindman passed Baptista for second.

For the balance of the race Marcelli was able to maintain a comfortable gap over Hindman and at the checkered won by .654 seconds. Baptista crossed in third, ahead of Dalziel in fourth, and Braun in fifth. Sweedler crossed in sixth overall and first in Am Division.

For Marcelli and Barkey, the defending class champions, it’s their first trip to victory lane this year after getting off to an inauspicious start at Circuit of the Americas, finishing out of the top three for both Rounds in Texas.

“We had better pace at COTA than the results there really showed, it just wasn’t our race weekend,” said Barkey. “It’s a great turnaround for us here. I have to tip my hat to the Racers Edge crew and of course the Acura. It’s such a great car to drive.”

The GT Sports Club division was won by Ryan Gates.