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    Ferraris battle for class victory in World Challenge America opener

    Sonoma 17 aprile 2022

    Ferrari continued its winning ways in the SRO GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, scoring a 1-2 result for the Prancing Horse in the season-opener at Sonoma Raceway after a back and forth battle to the finish. 

    Conrad Grunewald ran down Onofrio Triarsi in a battle of Ferraris, taking the lead in the No. 61 Cambridge Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 for good with 14 laps remaining.  Jean-Claude Saada had opened the race in the No. 61 entry on the way to delivering AF Corse its 13th class victory in the last 14 races – denying newcomer Triarsi Competizione its second triumph.

    The victory turned around a trying weekend for defending champion AF Corse. The team had to change engines earlier in the weekend, and had contact in practice with its backup car.

    We had a really good package last year, and I’m hoping to continue where we left off,” Grunewald said. “It’s fun to have good competition. Onofrio and Charlie are great drivers, so it was a fun race. There was some bumping and banging, and driving through the mud, but we ended up on top. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.

    I’m here to learn,” Saada said. “We’ve made massive changes and improvements from a year ago. I’m just delighted to have Conrad as my teammate and coach. It’s a blast to be here.

    With time running down, Grunewald passed Triarsi with 24 minutes remaining in the 90-minute contest. Triarsi – running his first full season in the series – fought back to regain the lead as Grunewald slid off course, and was able to hold off his more-experienced rival for several laps. With faster traffic closing on the pair, Grunewald retook the lead in three-wide traffic and was able to gap Triarsi.

    Triarsi won the class pole and was ninth overall driving the No. 23 Ferrari of Central Florida /Ferrari of Tampa Bay /1337 /Elev8 488 GT3 Evo 2020 earlier Saturday in a rainy qualifying session on Saturday morning, timed at 1:55.409-seconds. Grunewald was the pole winner in the second 15-minute session to set the grid for Sunday’s race, running 1:52.291-seconds.

    With the track dry for the afternoon race, Triarsi Competizione opted to start Charlie Scardina. He gained one overall position on the opening lap, running eighth overall in the 20-car field. Meanwhile Jean-Claude Saada was 14th overall for AF Corse before handing off to Grunewald at the 50-minute mark.

    I love this track, it’s awesome,” Scardina said after an impressive opening stint, which saw him lead the class and running eighth overall in the 20-car field. “It’s very flowing, and once you get a good rhythm, it goes fast. I’m very excited to be here in dry weather. The key is being patient, especially on a track that’s very abrasive over long stints, and keeping the tires in a good spot for the whole stint.

    Unfortunately, the No. 13 Ferrari of Central Florida /Ferrari of Tampa Bay Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 encountered fuel pump failure on the second lap of the race. Justin Wetherill was forced to pull off course and retired the car before Ryan Dalziel had the opportunity to drive. They were classified 13th in Pro-Am. Dalziel qualified fourth for Sunday’s Race 2, running a fast lap time of 1:52.811-seconds.

    Wetherill is also competing for Triarsi Competizione in the SRO3 category, driving the No. 37 Ferrari of Central Florida Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. In Race 1, Wetherill drove a steady race, holding seventh position throughout the event. He qualified eighth overall and seventh in class, 1:53.455-seconds, earlier on Saturday.

    Sunday opens with Race 2 for GT America at 9:30 a.m., followed by the GT World Challenge America Race 2 at 1:45 p.m. (all times PT).