Ferrari's Nielsen & Balzan Extend GTD Points Lead with Podium Finish
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Scuderia Corsa saved its best for last in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America. Alessandro Balzan took third with only three laps remaining in the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 started by Christina Nielsen, and went on to score the team’s fifth podium of the season.

As a result, Balzan and Nielsen extended their lead in the GT Daytona (GTD) point standings from 13 to 15 points with only three races remaining in 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition. The Ferrari drivers lead the fourth-place finishing No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Andy Lally and John Potter, 243-228, entering the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway on Sunday, August 28.

“The [Road America] podium is dedicated to the team – they did an amazing job,” Nielsen said. “I cannot believe how well they executed. This is why it’s a pleasure to be a part of Scuderia Corsa and drive with Alessandro Balzan. We didn’t have the top speed, but the car handled well and the team executed well like they always do.”

Coming off of a late-race charge to victory in the preceding race at Lime Rock Park, Lally managed to gain two positions following a restart with only five minutes remaining in the event, closing in on Balzan at the checkered flag to finish fourth.

“This was a tough one,” Lally said. “I couldn’t be happier with the team and the car they gave me, we had an excellent shot at a track that we were unsure of. From the first lap of the season I’m always thinking about the championship and getting every point we can, so to see a couple points slip away like that is a tough one, but we were able to prove how strong we can be and heading to Virginia we will be ready.”

Fittipaldi Takes Pride In Brazilian Olympics

Christian Fittipaldi had a number of people approach him in the paddock at Road America, favorably commenting on the Olympic Games currently taking place in his native Brazil.

“The opening ceremonies were really cool, and they surprised many people,” said Fittipaldi, who was born in Sao Paulo. “People kept coming up to me and saying ‘Wow!’ After all the concerns leading up to the Olympics, everything is going off great.”

Fittipaldi’s closest tie to the Olympics was in 1996, when he went to South Florida to run one mile carrying the Olympic Torch on its journey to Atlanta. He also has fond memories of the locale of the current Olympic Village.

“That’s where the race track used to be,” Fittipaldi said of the former Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway named in honor of his uncle. “It was the best race course in Brazil.”

Fittingly, Christian was the track record holder at the 1.864-mile oval with a lap of 174 mph in CART competition.

HART, Murillo Rebound From Problems To ST Podium

While Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante won the Street Tuner (ST) class at Road America, HART and Murillo Racing could take pride in having their respective cars rebound from early issues to finish on the podium.

“We didn’t qualify,” said Chad Gilsinger, who joined Ryan Eversley in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si. “We went to leave the grid at the beginning of the session and all of a sudden, the car went into a limp mode. We later found that one of the injector wires had pulled out, and we had no drive. It is what it is, but we had a great rebound after starting at the back and coming away with second place. We couldn’t have asked much more than that.”

Murillo Racing faced an even tougher challenge. Jeff Mosing spun and hit a barrier during the first flying lap of Friday’s opening practice. The incident badly damaged the No. 56 Mosing Motorcars Porsche Cayman co-driven by Eric Foss, and triggered a chain reaction that eliminated both the No. 65 Murillo Racing BMW 328i of Tim Probert and the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i of Jerry Kaufman.

“The guys worked on the car from about five minutes after I wrecked it right up until just before qualifying (about four hours),” Jeff Mosing said. “They really thrashed on the car we call ‘Scrappy’ to get it ready. It wasn’t 100 percent, but it was good enough to go qualify (Mosing qualified 10th). I can’t say enough about [team owner] Ken [Murillo] and all the guys at Murillo. To be able to have a competitive car after all that damage, and then come up with fuel strategy that worked. I’m really proud of the team and Eric for getting us up on the podium.”

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Larry Holt, Multimatic Motorsports team owner on Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson’s dramatic last-lap victory in the No. 15 Ford Shelby GT350R-C at Road America: “This place is usually a jinx for us, so it’s a really big win. We’ve had a hard time here in the past. It was a huge strategy deal here with fuel along with good, clean racing. I would have been very happy for Charles [Espenlaub, in the No. 99 Automatic Racing Invisible Glass Aston Martin Vantage] if he won, I would have been perfectly happy being second. That would have been magic if they had been able to do it.”