St. Petersburg, Fla. (10 March 2018) –The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season opened on Saturday with a busy day of qualifying and racing on the streets of St. Petersburg that saw a return to victory lane for Ferrari driver Martin Fuentes.
Fuentes, who captured the GTA class championship with Ferrari in 2016, added to his tally of GTA class victories as he scored the opening win of the season on board the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3.
The post-race podium celebrations included Toni Vilander, who impressed in his series debut after taking the pole position in qualifying and avoiding the opening lap mayhem to claim a podium in his first race at St. Petersburg. The Le Mans race winner correctly anticipated issues on the start and kept his focus on the big picture to come home in second place on board the No. 61 Ferrari 488 GT3 for R. Ferri Motorsport.
“I knew that something would happen at the start and I even talked to the race director, saying that when we go green that creates the situation where we’re instantly four cars side-by-side,” said Vilander. “I went inside and the Corvette (Keilwtiz) couldn’t make the corner and that created the whole situation. Overall, we will take the points for second and concentrate on Sunday’s race.”
GT-A. Martin Fuentes returned to the top step of the podium in Pirelli World Challenge, an excellent result considering Martin took a full season away from the professional circuit.
“I knew every start here at St. Pete is hairy,” said Fuentes. “I knew I had to pay attention in the front. I just watched, tried to find the gap, saw some crashing on the left and on the right. I saw the curve was clear and saw the other guy spinning so I just stomped the gas to get through there and try to get myself out of trouble. This is the first time I’m driving (a Ferrari 488 GT3) with TR3 and I’m very excited.”
The second race of the weekend is set for Sunday afternoon following the IndyCar race, with updates to be posted via races.ferrari.com.