Pirelli World Challenge begins 25th Anniversary Season

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Writer’s Note: The following is a recap of today’s first race of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge season from the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. NBCSN will broadcast the race on Sunday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m. ET. If you don’t want to know who won until then, we suggest you find another post to read here on MotorSportsTalk…

Series GT newcomer Tomas Enge and defending GTS class champion Lawson Aschenbach were victorious in today’s season-opener for the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge championship on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition, Andrew Palmer earned the first win in the series’ new GT-A subcategory for gentlemen drivers.

This weekend was supposed to see the GT and GTS classes compete in two races on the 1.8-mile St. Pete street course, but a heavy storm and a lack of track time afterwards wound up cancelling Saturday’s race. Qualifying times from Saturday set the grid for Sunday’s race, and only single-event points were awarded.

Enge had a poor standing start from the GT pole position, but marched to the front of the field during Sunday’s 50-minute race. With almost five minutes left, he capped off his comeback in the No. 25 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 with a bold inside pass of Andy Pilgrim and his No. 8 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R in Turn 1 that proved to be the race winner.

Pilgrim placed second, while Palmer finished third overall in the No. 21 GMG Racing Audi R8 Ultra after dueling with Anthony Lazzaro and Nick Mancuso in their R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italias. Lazzaro ended up fourth, while Mancuso picked up fifth (second in GT-A).

In GTS, Aschenbach took the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro to Victory Lane after taking advantage of slower traffic to make the race-winning pass on Andy Lee (No. 20 Best IT/Crown 7 Chevrolet Camaro) at Lap 26.

Jack Baldwin, who swept both St. Pete races last year in GTS, earned a third-place result in his No. 73 GTSport Porsche Cayman S. Tony Buffomonte (No. 33 Capaldi Racing/Ford Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302S) and Jack Roush Jr. (No. 60 ROUSH Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R) completed the Top 5 in GTS.

The Pirelli World Challenge will be back in action Sunday, April 13 on the Streets of Long Beach, California as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.

CADILLAC GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG presented by StopTech – FULL RESULTS

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

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Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.