TUDOR Championship: Risi Competizione Ferrari claims last-lap VIR thriller

Giancarlo Fisichella emerges from his car and is congratulated by co-driver Pierre Kaffer after winning Sunday's Oak Tree Grand Prix.

Phillip Abbott

Risi Competizione claimed back-to-back GT Le Mans victories following a thrilling last-lap pass by Giancarlo Fisichella on Wolf Henzler for the win in Sunday’s Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway.

The GT-only TUDOR United SportsCar Championship round came down to a seven-minute shootout for the win, following a late-race yellow for a stranded Porsche that was parked off-course.

Henzler, gambling on fuel in his Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR, restarted in the lead but came under heavy attack from a hard-charging Fisichella, who pushed his Ferrari F458 Italia to the limits in the action-packed closing laps.

The two ran nose-to-tail and sometimes side-by-side, with Fisichella managing to power by Henzler for the lead on the final lap.

It gave Fisichella and co-driver Pierre Kaffer their second straight win, rebounding from an unscheduled stop to clean the radiator of the Prancing Horse after an off-course excursion by pole-sitter Kaffer on the second lap.

Falken Tire’s Henzler and Bryan Sellers, meanwhile, earned their first podium finish of the year, while the pair of BMW Team RLL entries finished third and fourth, after opting to pit their BMW Z4 GTEs with just more than 30 minutes remaining for splashes of fuel.

John Edwards completed the closing stint in the No. 56 BMW to give him and Dirk Mueller another podium finish.

The No. 93 SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R of Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer completed the top-five, after a challenging day that included a near blow-over for Bomarito in the esses.

SRT’s sister No. 91 Viper led early in the hands of Dominik Farnbacher, but like the No. 93 car and the GTLM championship-leading No. 3 Corvette, it lost out on fuel strategy due to a yellow late in the second hour.

Farnbacher and Marc Goossens came home in sixth, while Antonio Garcia retained the GTLM lead with a seventh-place result with Jordan Taylor, who subbed for Jan Magnussen after the Dane’s heavy accident in practice on Saturday.

STORIES WORTH SHARING

Garcia is now six points ahead of SRT’s Bomarito and Wittmer heading into the penultimate round of the season next month at Circuit of The Americas.

Turner Motorsport’s Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala picked up GT Daytona class honors for the fourth time this season, propelling the team and Cameron to a three-way tie for the lead of the championship.

Cameron held off the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Alessandro Balzan for the win, in what came down to a fuel mileage race as well.

The No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche of Andrew Davis and Patrick Dempsey recorded their first podium of the season in third, thanks to Davis’ late-race pass on the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Leh Keen, who slid to fifth.

Keen and Cooper MacNeil’s finish has put the duo tied for the lead of the championship with Turner’s Cameron as well as Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, who entered the weekend with a three-point lead in the title race.

However, the AIM Autosport Ferrari was forced to pit from the lead late in the second hour due to a pit lane infraction, dropping Bell and Sweedler to an eighth-place finish. 

The No. 58 Snow Racing/Dempsey Porsche of Jan Heylen led early and appeared to be on a perfect strategy, with co-driver Madison Snow handling the middle stint. However, the duo settled for ninth, largely due to the number of yellows.