Defending series champ Johnny O'Connell third in points
Anthony Lazzaro heads to Detroit leading the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge’s top GT class, but now he has to defend his position this weekend against his own R. Ferri Motorsports teammate, Nick Mancuso.
Mancuso started the season in the GT-A class, and he won the season-opener at St. Petersburg. A slowly deflating tire dropped him to 16th overall and seventh in GT-A at Long Beach. But after finishing in the top three overall and winning GT-A in the first race at Barber Motorsports Park, he was immediately promoted to GT by series rules. He finished fourth in his first GT race and the combined points left him sixth in the standings with 309 points.
Lazzaro, who won the first race at Barber and finished second in the second, leads with 439 points with defending series champ Johnny O’Connell second with 393.
Mancuso and Lazzaro drive identical Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 race cars equipped with Motegi Racing wheels. That’s GT3 as in FIA GT3, the international rules making group and unlike the Ferrari 458 Italias that race in the new IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship, the Pirelli World Challenge does not mandate any changes in the GT3 spec Ferraris.
“GT3 is the way of the future,” Mancuso says. “The manufacturer involvement is what makes the formula so successful. They have had a relatively steady rules package, the cars are simpler for the manufacturer to build than a GTE or prototype, they resemble the road cars they sell and, especially now, they can race them all over the world in one specification. Brilliant, brilliant move.
“I joke that previously to run a GT3 car in North America you had to “neuter” the car: take away aero, reduce power, disable electronics etc; which basically goes against the heart of any true racer to do. Now you can potentially take a car straight from a race in Europe and throw it on a plane to show up on the PWC grid and thus you’re seeing this hockey-stick growth curve of the series and it looks like it will continue for quite some time.”
Motegi supports a second team in the Pirelli World Challenge. DragonSpeed fields the No. 10 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 for Henrik Hedman, who ranks third in the GT-A point standings.
The Pirelli World Challenge series, now in its 25th season, has experienced a tremendous popularity growth during the last few years. Featuring standing starts and with a 50-minute race time lime, Pirelli World Challenge races are true sprints.
The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend at Belle Isle includes two Pirelli World Challenge races. The first starts at 10:05 a.m. Et Saturday and the second at 1:45 a.m. ET Sunday.