ALTON, Va. – Excitement and drama will be guaranteed as no fewer than 17 Blancpain GT World Challenge America cars return to action at Virginia Int’l Raceway this weekend.
Six GT3 manufacturers can be found in a star-studded field for a double-header weekend that includes defending race winners, previous series champions and marque factory drivers.
Fans will be treated to a total six hours of GT3 on-track action, headlined by a pair of two-driver, 90-minute races at VIR’s 17-turn, 3.27-mile grass verged road course.
In addition, Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari will each nominate four drivers to collect points for the global Blancpain GT World Challenge.
With two crews tied at the top of the standings, this weekend’s second round of the season looks set to build on a thrilling curtain-raiser at Circuit of The Americas in March.
Reigning champions Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina got their title defence off to a fine start in Texas with a commanding race 2 victory coupled with fourth in race one.
The R. Ferri Motorsport duo will be looking to build on those results in their Ferrari 488 GT3 by taming the only track at which they didn’t claim an overall victory last season.
Joint championship leaders Rodrigo Baptista and Maxime Soulet, on the other hand, have a winning history at VIR.
The K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 drivers will be seeking to repeat their win from 12 months ago in a bid to draw clear of fellow international stars Vilander and Molina in the points.
The other K-PAX crew features the equally formidable pairing of Andy Soucek, who like Soulet is a Bentley works driver, and Portuguese ace Alvaro Parente.
After taking two second-place finishes at COTA, they will no doubt be keen to go one better at VIR with their yellow-trimmed Continental.
Another team entering two cars this weekend is Alegra Motorsports with its Porsche 911 GT3 Rs: experienced German drivers Wolf Henzler and Marco Holzer are in one while the other will be shared by the US-Canadian pairing of Michael De Quesada and Daniel Morad.
The Pro field is completed by Wright Motorsports, which is also fielding a Porsche.
Patrick Long and Scott Hargrove form another US-Canadian pairing and will be pushing to go one or even two better than their brace of third-place finishes last time out.
Nine cars will lock horns in what promises to be an intriguing Pro-Am class battle.
An addition is multiple World Challenge title-winning team RealTime Racing, which is joining the grid with an Acura NSX GT3 Evo.
Accomplished prototype racer Dane Cameron will partner Bret Curtis for the squad’s GT3 return after it spent 2018 racing in the TCR ranks.
Off the back of their COTA race two win, Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli will arrive at VIR as championship leaders.
Marcelli impressed by putting the Racers Edge Motorsports Acura on the overall pole in the previous race and will, like many other drivers in Pro-Am, be hoping to mix it with the top-class runners once again.
Gradient Racing also has an Acura listed for Ryan Eversley and Till Bechtolsheimer, who sit third in the standings, just ahead of Wright Motorsports Porsche driver Anthony Imperato.
Imperato will have a new co-driver this weekend in Australian hotshot Matt Campbell, who helped guide Porsche to victory in this year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Campbell has found success in multiple GT championships around the world and will now bring his exciting driving style to Blancpain GT World Challenge America for the first time.
Former IndyCar racer Alex Barron and his driving partner Kevan Millstein will be at the helm of the K2R Motorsports Porsche, while BMW is represented by Cameron Racing’s M6 GT3 for Henry Schmitt and Greg Liefooghe.
DXDT Racing has two Mercedes-AMG GT3s listed: the Utah-based squad’s #04 car will be driven by Colin Braun and George Kurtz, with Ryan Dalziel and David Askew in the #63 sister machine.
One11 Competition is also on the Pro-Am grid with its Ferrari for Alfred Caiola and Matt Plumb.
Two Ferraris make up the Am class sub-plot with Christopher Cagnazzi and Brian Kaminsky aiming to break the momentum of Martin Fuentes and Caeser Bacarella who swept the COTA weekend in their tricolored 488 GT3.
Track action kicks off on Friday with two 60-minute practice sessions ahead of qualifying at 10:35 a.m. EST on Saturday morning.
The first of two 90-minute races gets underway at 2:10 p.m. EST followed by the second race at 1:15 p.m. EST on Sunday afternoon.