Martin Fuentes scores second position in GT-A class.
Long Beach, Calif. - In what was one of the most incident-filled races in recent memory, the three Scuderia Corsa drivers in the Pirelli World Challenge suffered their fair share of incident and damage on Sunday afternoon on the 1.9-mile circuit on the streets of Long Beach. By the time five yellow flags and one checkered flag had flown on Sunday afternoon, two of the team's Ferrari 458 Italias would finish in the top-ten of the race.
The first of the team's Ferraris across the finish line was the no. 07 Scuderia Corsa / Hublot Ferrari 458 Italia of Martin Fuentes. Fuentes, who qualified in a very strong tenth position overall, sustained heavy damage to the rear of the Ferrari when he was hit during one of the race's many restarts. Despite the damage, Fuentes would make up two positions to finish eighth overall and second in the GT-A class. Fuentes is unofficially third in the GT-A championship, three points behind second place.
I felt like I was in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome for the entire race.
"It was a very good race for me, and a very good result in my first year of Pirelli World Challenge," said Fuentes. "I was very worried on the restarts because three cars would try to fit on the little road around the fountain, and things would come down to one lane, so it was a matter of making your car fit. There were too many accidents, and the car was very damaged so I couldn't push it anymore, but luckily we made it through. I am very thankful for the Scuderia Corsa team - they did a great job to prepare the Hublot / Scuderia Corsa Ferrari. We will be ready for Barber next weekend."
After qualifying in 17th position, Mike Hedlund also endured a number of incidents and contact in his no. 65 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia. Able to make numerous passes and avoid the majority of the race's incidents, Hedlund would advance as high as seventh overall before finishing the race in tenth position.
"That was one eventful race," said Hedlund. "I felt like I was in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome for the entire race. The car is half destroyed, but we finished. I lost a couple of positions at the end there when I tried a pass and it didn't work out - rubbed the tire wall but we saved it. So we finished tenth, which is not bad. We got out with a functioning car, so it's good."
Losing out on a strong finish was Duncan Ende, who was competing not far from his home in the no. 64 Scuderia Corsa / Lino'spresso USA Ferrari 458 Italia. Ende, who qualified 11th, was up to eighth position when he was hit by another car in the famous Long Beach hairpin, causing him to spin and face the wrong way on the circuit. Not only did Ende lose his track position, but the incident damaged the suspension of his Ferrari, ending his race. He was unofficially credited with finishing in 25th position.
"What is there to say about such a race?" said Ende. "In 30 minutes of race time I didn't have a single flying lap before getting punted in the hairpin. The Scuderia Corsa Ferrari was very fast and I had been able to make up a few positions just by staying out of trouble. Racing in Long Beach, which close to home for me and the team, is a great experience and it's such a shame to get taken out like that. If the series doesn't take some strong action with some of the offending drivers I will be very disappointed."
Despite the numerous incidents that plagued Sunday's 50-minute race, Scuderia Corsa team owner Giacomo Mattioli enjoyed the first Long Beach Grand Prix weekend where he was on hand with his team. With the event just miles from the team's base at Ferrari Los Angeles, the team enjoyed the support of numerous guests and clients throughout the weekend.
"At one point we were doing quite well in the Pirelli World Challenge 'demolition derby' with all three of the Scuderia Corsa Ferraris in the top-ten," said Giacomo Mattioli, team owner of Scuderia Corsa. "We scored a great podium with Martin who survived significant damage and is now a serious contender for the GT-A championship. Mike had a god come back to finish tenth overall, gaining seven positions which is very difficult in a street course. I am sorry that Duncan was taken out by an overly ambitious competitor while he was in the top-10."
The television broadcast from Sunday's Long Beach Grand Prix will air on Sunday, April 26 at 3:30 PM ET on CBS Sports Network.
Scuderia Corsa's Pirelli World Challenge drivers are back in action this coming weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, with two rounds of racing.