Personable Racer Records Nine Race Wins for PWC Class Record
SALINAS, Calif. – In the highly-competitive world of motorsports, it’s hard to find a nicer guy than Mexico City’s Martin Fuentes.
Each racing weekend, Fuentes can be found in the Pirelli World Challenge paddock, autograph sessions, pits and victory lane reaching out to shake hands with fans, fellow competitors and rival teams.
But when the veteran racer gets behind the wheel of his No. 07 Scuderia Corsa/HUBLOT Ferrari 458 Italia sports car, Fuentes turns from likable and friendly to fierce on the track.
And Fuentes enjoyed a banner season in 2016 by already clinching the GTA (Amateur) division point championship with one race remaining on Oct. 9 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Fuentes opened the PWC campaign with seven consecutive class victories at venues such as Circuit of the Americas in Texas, the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif., and the beautiful terrain of Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. In addition, Martin scored additional victories to set a GTA season win record with nine.
Add seven runner-up finishes in 2016 and Fuentes was a regular attendee in the Pirelli World Challenge winner’s podium and always with his hand out for a congratulatory shake to his fellow racers.
Fuentes clinched his series crown in the opening race at Sonoma Raceway on Sept. 27 with a second place finish to winner Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Schein was Fuentes’ fiercest racer this year and is second in points.
“I’m very, very happy to be able to win this championship,” said Fuentes. “Of course, I was aiming for that first spot at Sonoma but we had to play a smart race and we couldn’t take any chances. We were really concentrating on the big picture. We had a very good Ferrari, so getting that second place meant we would bring the championship home.”
This year was Fuentes’ second season in the GTA category after placing third in the 2015 points with one race win.
And the “nice guy” Fuentes was set for a title drive when he and his Scuderia Corsa/HUBLOT Ferrari crew hit the track in February for testing. The season-opener at COTA in March saw Martin stake his ground with impressive double feature wins in the 50-minute sprint races.
And the Fuentes winning streak didn’t stop until late in May where he had to settle for second at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“I was just trying to do my job and fight for P1 at each race,” said Fuentes, whose wife, Jacqueline, a Mexican TV actress, was on hand at Sonoma to witness Martin’s title-clinching performance. “Then I was setting records with wins and things began to settle in with a great consistency. That early streak ended but I was still pushing. I wanted to put the car up front and work for the big goal – the championship.”
Fuentes also won at Lime Rock and Utah this year and Schein applied the pressure in the second half of the season with an eight-win run also. But, at the end, Fuentes and his Ferrari were too much for the rest of the GTA field and the popular Mexican driver had captured his first professional racing title.
“This is not a single man championship,” Martin explained. “The whole year, Scuderia Corsa gave us a great car and I’m thankful for everyone on our team – this is a full team championship, and it wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have the best team on my side. Thank you to everyone who supports us all season – the team, sponsors, and fans. We are looking forward to a great season in 2017, and to these last race of the season.”
This is Scuderia Corsa’s third championship in North American sports car racing, following the 2013 Grand-Am GT-class crown and 2015 IMSA GT-Daytona title.
“When Martin started driving with us last year, we saw a fast and talent driver who was just a bit too aggressive,” said Giacomo Mattioli, Scuderia Corsa team owner. “We spent time in the off- season reviewing the different races and talking about the approach to win a championship. As Martin started the season, everything came together.
“He knew the car, his feedback was more precise and he was really fast. He raced impeccably. Race after race, he kept improving and today’s championship is a well-deserved reward for his hard work! At Scuderia Corsa, we are very proud and honored to have contributed to the first championship in his career.”
The Pirelli World Challenge season finale is set for Oct. 7-9 at the famous 2.238-mile, 11-turn road circuit with some 120 competitors already entered. Action begins with practice and qualifying sessions at Mazda Raceway on Friday, Oct. 7, and races being contested on Oct. 8 and 9.