The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season is the twenty-ninth consecutive year for the championship. There are five race weekends. The Grand Touring category title chase kicks-off in March at Saint Petersburg. This event is followed by races at Long Beach, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America. The finale takes place at Watkins Glen International on the Labour Day weekend.

As in the previous year, there were three Grand Touring categories:

  • Grand Touring (GT) – This is the series quickest class and includes cars that predominantly fall into the FIA GT3 category. These are two-wheel drive vehicles that may use normally aspirated or turbocharged engines which produce approximately 500 horsepower. Examples of cars competing in this category include: Porsche 911 GT3 R, Mercedes AMG GT3, McLaren 650S GT3, Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, Bentley Continental GT3, Audi R8 LMS, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Chevrolet Corvette C7 GT3-R and Ferrari 488 GT3.
  • Grand Touring Sportsman (GTA) – This class includes the same vehicles as Grand Touring. However, the drivers are not considered professionals. Competitors in this category are evaluated after each event and based on their performance may be elevated to the Grand Touring class.
  • Grand Touring Cup (GTC) – The Grand Touring Cup class was originally for the Porsche 991 GT Cup cars. It now includes vehicles from other spec series – the Lamborghini Super Trofeo and Ferrari 458 Challenge championships.

Within their class, drivers are eligible to score points towards three championships – Sprint (fifty-minute races), SprintX (sixty-minute contests) and Overall (combined points scored in the Sprint and SprintX events).

The results of the final two races of the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season at Watkins Glen International would decide the champions in the GT Sprint, GTA Sprint and overall GT classes. GT drivers would compete in two fifty-minute races around the eleven-turn 3.4-mile Watkins Glen road course. The event titled, The Grand Prix of Watkins Glen was presented by TM Performance.

Pirelli World Challenge GT competitors enter Watkins Glen International’s final corner for the start of the penultimate round. Starting on the pole and pacing the field is Rodrigo Baptista driving the K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3. Alongside Baptista is Daniel Mancinelli in the TR3 Racing prepared Ferrari 488 GT3. A total of ten GT drivers started and finished round eight.
K-PAX Racings’ Rodrigo Baptista wasn’t the fastest GT competitor in Friday’s two practice sessions but he was quick when it counted. The driver of the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 qualified on the pole for Saturday’s contest by over 0.5-second. In the race, Baptista led flag-to-flag to score his second victory of the season – his first was a SprintX event with Maxime Soulet at VIR. And on Sunday, he ‘completed a sweep’ of the weekend.
Canadian, Scott Hargrove and his co-driver, Wolf Henzler encounter problems at the Utah Motorsports Campus and failed to win the SprintX championship. Watkins Glen International provided, Hargrove with an opportunity to capture the GT Sprint title. During the weekend’s first race, Hargrove pitted with a tire issue and finished behind his chief rival for the title, Toni Vilander. On Sunday, he finished second and claimed the title.
The top-three GTA competitors (Martin Fuentes, Yuki Harata and Parker Chase) did not participate in the final two rounds of the season. This left the door open for a first-time winner in the category. The quickest GTA driver in the qualifying session was Anthony Imperato racing the Wright Motorsports prepared Porsche 911 GT3 R. Imperato took the class wins on Saturday and Sunday.
Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina clinched the SprintX championship at Utah. At Watkins Glen, Vilander would have an opportunity to sweep the category by securing the Sprint and Overall titles. The driver of the R. Ferri Ferrari 488 GT3 entered the final two rounds trailing Scott Hargrove in the Sprint class. In the final races of the season, Vilander scored fourth and third place finishes – not enough to beat Hargrove.
It was a ‘character building’ season K-PAX Racing’s Alvaro Parente. Accidents and mechanical issues prevented the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT champion from scoring points in five races. Despite these setbacks, Parente had five podium finishes and a victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. During the Watkins Glen weekend, he managed an eighth-place finish on Saturday and the following day Parente grabbed a third.
The No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R was driven by Michael Christensen. The highlight of Christensen’s season did not occur in the Pirelli World Challenge series but at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At Le Mans, he won the GTE Pro category with co-drivers, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor. Christensen took third and sixth place finishes at Watkins Glen and ended the year third in the Sprint and overall standings.
The standings at the top of the GT Sprint might have been different if Daniel Mancinelli participated in the first two rounds at St. Petersburg. At that event, Mancinelli’s team withdrew the car after a Balance of Performance dispute. Driving the TR3 Racing prepared Ferrari 488 GT3, he was victorious at Long Beach. On Saturday at Watkins Glen, Mancinelli was the runner-up but the next day, he completed only one-lap.
2017 GTA champion, Martin Fuentes had dominated the season with four victories in the first seven events. Despite a comfortable lead in the title chase, there was a chance that Yuki Harata or Parker Chase could win the championship. Fuentes practiced on Friday at Watkins Glen but when Harata and Chase failed to appear his teamed packed-up. Without competing in the final two rounds, he repeated as the GTA champion.

1GT ProRodrigo BaptistaK-PAX Racing / Bentley Continental GT329
2GT ProDaniel MancinelliTR3 Racing / Ferrari 488 GT329
3GT ProMichael ChristensenAlegra Motorsports / Porsche 911 GT3 R29
4GT ProToni Vilander R. Ferri Motorsport / Ferrari 488 GT329
5GT ProMichael CooperCRP Racing / Mercedes-AMG GT329
6GT ProScott HargrovePfaff Motorsports / Porsche 911 GT3 R29
7GT AmAnthony ImperatoWright Motorsports / Porsche 911 GT3 R29
8GT ProMario FarnbacherHART / Acura NSX GT329
9GT AmDavid AskewDXDT Racing / Mercedes-AMG GT328
10GT ProAlvaro ParenteK-PAX Racing / Bentley Continental GT327

1GT ProRodrigo BaptistaK-PAX Racing / Bentley Continental GT328
2GT ProScott HargrovePfaff Motorsports / Porsche 911 GT3 R28
3GT ProAlvaro ParenteK-PAX Racing / Bentley Continental GT328
4GT ProToni Vilander R. Ferri Motorsport / Ferrari 488 GT328
5GT AmAnthony ImperatoWright Motorsports / Porsche 911 GT3 R28
6GT ProMichael ChristensenAlegra Motorsports / Porsche 911 GT3 R28
7GT AmDavid AskewDXDT Racing / Mercedes-AMG GT327
8GT ProMario FarnbacherHART / Acura NSX GT315
NCGT ProDaniel MancinelliTR3 Racing / Ferrari 488 GT31
NCGT ProMichael CooperCRP Racing / Mercedes-AMG GT30

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