Austin, TX – Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, CA and Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, PA recorded wins in GT, GTA and GT Cup respectively at the Circuit of The Americas, and the Nissan Grand Prix of Texas brought to you by Motul.
From the standing start, pole sitter Nick Catsburg, of Voorthuizen, Netherlands, in the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 took the lead into Turn 1. Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, FL, in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3R who started fourth moved around Kevin Estre, of Locmau, Austria, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 who was slow off of the standing start. Beretta, in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia also moved around Estre and slotted into third coming out of Turn 1.
Catsburg held the lead in front of Dalziel and Beretta through lap 2 at which time Pirelli World Challenge Race Control assessed a drive through penalty for a blend line violation heading into Turn 1 off of the standing start. Catsburg served the penalty on lap 4 and rejoined the race down the grid.
The penalty moved Dalziel into the lead followed by Beretta and 2014 Drivers’ Champion Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, GA, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 who had had a fantastic standing start moving up from 8th on the grid to fourth after a first lap pass on Estre.
Through laps 13 to 21 Dalziel and Beretta ran nose to tail with Beretta looking for opportunities to pass. Then coming out of turn 20 onto the front straight, Beretta executed the pass on Dalziel in a move that would award him the Cadillac ATS-V Move of the Race.
Dalziel tried to regain the position down the front straight but Beretta’s momentum carried him into the lead which he held for the final two laps of the race and the win. O’Connell finished third.
In GTA, Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, CA, in the No. 05 AE Replay XD Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R GT 3 started six on the grid and held the lead in GTA until the half way mark of the race when Lewis, in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3R completed the pass for lead in class and held it for the remainder of the race. Frank Montecalvo, of Highlands, NJ, in the No. 66 DragonSpeed Bayshore Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 finished third in GTA.
In GT Cup, Thompson, in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Constructors/Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes/Austin Hatcher Foundation
Porsche 911 GT Cup started on pole and led flag to flag for his first career win in the series. Sloan Urry, of Salt Lake City, UT, in the No. 02 Engel & Volkers TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup finished second with Alec Udell, of The Woodlands, TX, in the No. 17 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup finishing third in class. Thompson picked up three race awards on the day: the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start with 12 positions gained; the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining 12 race positions; and the MOMO GT Cup Turning Point of the Race for moving up 12 positions and winning the class race.
“I pushed and had a good start,” said Beretta. “I kept pushing and Dalziel did a very good job. When I realized it was close to the end of the race, I said I ‘have to go, I have to find a way (around)’. I tried to do a qualifying lap. I took many risks, but in the end it paid off. I’m happy for the team, for Ferrari, for
Remo (Ferri, team owner), and the guys did a very good job. The preparation and the set up was the engineer and the team. We have a good group and we just need to keep going. The season is very long, we have to enjoy the moment, and we having to keep going.”
“Big thanks to my team Effort Racing and Porsche Motorsports North America, without their support and their awesome car, this wouldn’t have been possible” said Lewis. “The car was really dialed in the whole race and tire management was awesome. I just had to run my lines and pick off people when I felt it was okay to do so. It was awesome communication between me and my engineer Stefan and my mechanic Ricky. I’d like to give a big thank you to the team, Porsche, and my sponsors Curb Records, Eibach Springs, Cometic Gasket. It’s just really emotional and cool to get the first win of the season on our debut. A big thanks to everyone”
“The start was fabulous,” said Thompson.”It was the complete opposite of my first standing start. We were able to get by some cars from another class and it was world’s different. It really set the pace for the entire race. As GTA cars caught me and I caught GTA cars, I definitely let second and third place catch me and then pulled away. At the end, we pulled out a gap of 10 or 13 seconds. The confidence is there for sure now. We just need to stay humble and approach Sunday like it’s any other race.”
Of note, the Invisible Clean Pass of the Race Award went to James Davison, of St. Petesburg, FL, in the No. 33 AE/ReplayXD/NISSAN NISMO GT-R GT3.