Ferrari is likely to be among the leading contenders at Virginia International Raceway as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship showcases its GT classes in the GT Challenge on Saturday.
Scuderia Corsa will field the white No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 for Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander in the two-hour, 40-minute event.
The team is coming off a fourth-place finish in the most recent WeatherTech Championship race at Road America, after finishing second at Sebring in the previous round.
“We struggled at Road America with top speed,” Vilander said. “There has been one brand that is really running away. The Scuderia Corsa engineers have really been on top of the car and the strategy. We run 100 percent every session and we look forward to some good racing this weekend.”
A year ago, Vilander made a pass coming to take the white flag to secure a podium finish for the WeatherTech Ferrari. Vilander also recorded the fastest GTD lap of the race during his late-race charge with a quick time of 1:44.710-seconds. The third-place finish was set up by strategy during MacNeil’s opening stint. Opting not to pit during an early caution, MacNeil ran second for 12 laps during the latter stages of his run before turning the Ferrari over to Vilander.
“I really like VIR,” MacNeil said. “When you really have your car hooked up it is a great place to race. Toni and I were third there last year, but with the new Evo package on our WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488, we hope we will be a little bit better this weekend. We will have limited time to get our car set-up, but that is the way we have to do things this year. It is too bad that we won’t have fans at the race. The vibe is totally different without our open paddock, autograph session and grid walk.
Later in the year, MacNeil returned to VIR to capture the SCCA National Championship in T2 at the Runoffs.
“I was fortunate to win my class in the Runoffs there last year,” MacNeil added. “It was a busy weekend as we had run Petit Le Mans [at Road Atlanta in October] the night before. I hope we can have the same outcome this Saturday.”
Vilander shares his teammate’s enthusiasm for the traditional 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit.
“I’m looking forward to the VIR GT-only weekend,” Vilander said. “It is a little easier when there are fewer cars on track and you are not constantly looking in your mirrors for a prototype to come running up on you. It is one of my favorite tracks in the U.S. because of the high-speed character of the layout. I especially like the fast esses and into Oak Tree turn. I am expecting a lot of grip on the track from the tires, different from Road America.”
The weekend opens on Friday with a pair of one-hour practice sessions, beginning at 8 a.m. and noon (all times ET). GTD qualifying is set for 5:35 p.m. The GT Challenge takes the green flag at 2 p.m. on Saturday.