Great victory propels Sweedler and Bell in IMSA Championship, Fuentes drives his Ferrari to a pair of World Challenge podiums.
Los Angeles, Calif. - From the drop of the green until the drop of the checkered, the Oak Tree Grand Prix weekend belonged to Scuderia Corsa as drivers Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell drove the no. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia to a runaway victory in Sunday's race at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia.
What an amazing feeling for Scuderia Corsa this weekend
Starting from third position, Sweedler executed a pair of daring passes - including one at the start - to move the Ferrari into the GT-Daytona class lead. Flawless pit stops by the Scuderia Corsa crew, and inch-perfect driving by Bell kept the Ferrari up front for the duration of the race. The victory means that the team has closed the gap in the GT-Daytona team championship as Scuderia Corsa now sits in second position. Bell and Sweedler are now also in second position in the driver's championship, having also narrowed the gap to the leader, and are coming on strong just as the TUDOR Championship season heads into the final couple of races.
"What a great race," said Sweedler. "The Scuderia Corsa guys did a flawless job. The drivers, crew, engineer, strategy were all flawless. We have been working hard for this, and frankly, this victory coming towards the end of the year with us in the championship hunt. We knew that if we were unable to put good points on the board, or win, at VIR that our chances for the championship were slipping away. So our focus was to make no mistakes, and it's worked out perfectly for us."
The championship was also on the mind of his teammate, as Bell defending the lead in the early part of his stint from one of the other GT-Daytona championship contenders.
"We're coming for that championship," said Bell. "It was nice to finally have a venue where we could show what the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari is capable of. The Ferrari was perfect all day. And what a job that my teammate Bill Sweedler did! He drove the Ferrari to the lead and then the pressure was on me to keep it there. We had a good battle with the 48, but then we settled down and we were able to pull out a gap. I'm so happy for the guys - we've had some good results but they really deserve this victory."
A pair of World Challenge podiums
Sweedler and Bell would not be the only Scuderia Corsa drivers to spray champagne this weekend. While the Oak Tree Grand Prix was in the closing stages, Scuderia Corsa driver Martin Fuentes was standing on the GT-A podium after Sunday's Pirelli World Challenge race at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Fuentes, driving the no. 07 Scuderia Corsa / HUBLOT Ferrari 458 Italia, also finished second in Saturday's PWC race. Both results strengthen his position in the GT-A class championship. Duncan Ende, driving the no. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia, finished 13th in the GT class in Saturday's race and 14th in Sunday's.
"It was a good weekend for me and for Scuderia Corsa with a strong finish in both races," said Fuentes. "We are shortening the gap between us and the points leaders and I'm looking forward to the next race. This might not have been the best circuit for the Ferrari, but we were able to get some strong points and we are looking forward to the last two races of the season. It was a great job by the Scuderia Corsa team, this championship won't be over until the last battle in Laguna Seca!"
It was a strong weekend for the team in both championships, and team owner Giacomo Mattioli was thrilled to celebrate the team's performance.
"What an amazing feeling for Scuderia Corsa this weekend," said Mattioli. "This was a perfect race for our team. Bill drove an amazing race, it was a really good feeling to see him take the lead. The guys in the pits executed perfectly. Townsend did a very solid job as Iceman to close the race. Today we seized the opportunity that we had. This is what a championship caliber team does and this is what we did. I couldn't be more proud of my guys. For a while, I had one eye on the track and another one on the race from Miller Motorsports Park where Martin scored two great podiums and is right there in the GT-A championship contention as well."
Fuentes and Ende will be back in their Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italias this weekend as the Pirelli World Challenge hosts a doubleheader at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. The next round of the TUDOR Championship will be the Lone Star LeMans at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on September 17-19.