GRANTSVILLE, Utah – After a disappointing loss of a team vehicle at the start of the weekend at Utah Motorsports Campus, Pirelli World Challenge SprintX team drivers Preston Calvert of Potomac, Md., and Michael Lewis of Laguna Beach, Calif., converted misfortune to a sweep of the SprintX GT features by taking the podium once again on Sunday’s feature with the No. 98 Calvert Dynamics/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R.
In SprintX GTS, the No. 07 TRG Aston Martin Vantage GT4 team of Max Riddle of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and Kris Wilson of Littleton, Colo., took top honors to close out the Pirelli World Challenge weekend in Round 4.
In Friday practice, Calvert’s primary ride, the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R, suffered a devastating fire with team driver Andrew Davis at the wheel. Lewis asked Calvert to join him in the No. 98 for the two SprintX features on Saturday and Sunday. And the rest is history with a double win.
The second SprintX race in Utah saw the pro drivers open the action in the 60-minute, two-driver competition and Lewis, who took his machine to fourth in Sunday’s GT sprint race, jumped out to a blistering pace and large lead in the first 18 laps. Michael then turned his car over to Calvert and the GTA racer ran a consistent pace to win his second SprintX event by 5.215-seconds over the No. 23 M1 GT Racing Audi R8 Ultra of David Ostella of Toronto, Ont., Canada and Dion Von Molke of Coral Gables, Fla.
Third place in SprintX GT went to the No. 46 Mills Racing BMW Z4 contingent of Michael Mills of Houston and Kuno Wittmer of Montreal. Mills was in position to challenge Calvert for the lead late in the 60-minute contest but spun his machine.
In GTS Sprint X, Saturday’s winning team of Jason Alexandridis of Novato, Calif., and Derek DeBoer of Ashland, Ore., took the runner-up spot in their No. 09 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 followed by the teenage squad of Parker Chase of New Braunsfels, Texas, age 15, and Harry Gottsacker of San Antonio, Texas, age 17, in the No. 29 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to win,” said Calvert. “Michael (Lewis) gave me a car with a very large lead. We made a decent (driver) exchange, not a great one. And I was able to bring us home for the victory. The tires were really going away on this hot track. It was a real challenge. The crew was giving a little encouragement along the way at the end. I knew I needed to my pace up as some of the others were trying to close the gap. After the mishap on Friday, we just kept our heads down and worked hard. We knew that Michael was in position for a good finish in the GT sprint race (Lewis placed fourth) and, in this race, Michael just took off like a jackrabbit. He set fastest lap again and gave me the car in a great place. For me, it was just make as few mistakes as possible. I was aware of the BMW Z4 (Mills/Wittmer) but after he spun, I just wanted to hit my marks and bring the car home. It is so nice to resurrect this weekend from a disaster to our most successful weekend; it’s amazing. It was an incredible turnaround. I’m not sure I have processed it yet.”
Lewis, 26, was on-the-go Sunday with the 50-minute GT race and the 60-minute SprintX GT event.
“Sunday was pretty busy for me,” said Lewis. “And Saturday I only got a few laps in the GT race. In the GT race today, I got a good start but just got out-dragged by the turbo cars. I had some nice dices with Patrick (Long) and with (Adderly) Fong in the Bentley. I had a good run to the end. Then drove the car back to the garage and jumped out, got some water. Then it was time for Preston and I to race in the SprintX. And we pulled off again. It was all Preston at the end. He drove very clean and very solid. I had to come from behind on Saturday to win. Today I just drove as hard as possible at the start and gained as large an advantage as possible. We set a pace as hard as we could. We had good tire management from the Porsche. I pushed hard and Preston made it happen at the end.”
Riddle explained, “We didn’t have the fastest car today but we just didn’t give up. We ran consistent laps today but I think the motor in our car is getting pretty tired. It might be time for a rebuild, especially running at altitude here in Utah. It was a great weekend for the TRG-AMR team as each (of us) got a victory on Saturday and Sunday. I couldn’t be happier for all the guys at TRG-AMR and Aston Martin Racing.”
“Saturday I finished the race and today I started off,” explained Wilson. “The car was getting hot though. I was really trying to conserve the car and the tires. Unfortunately, for our team car, they had a flat tire and that helped us. It’s nice that both team cars won this weekend. We can mix up a little. I have just run at Mosport (CTMP), here and at (MAZDA Raceway) Laguna Seca. That’s all right now. I’m looking forward to the next race now.”
The fastest SprintX GT lap of the race went to SprintX co-winner Michael Lewis in the No. 98 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R for his 1:49.740 lap of the circuit. SprintX GTS fastest lap was set by Parker Chase in his turn behind the wheel of the No. 29 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4, stopping the clock at 1:59.309.
SprintX Round 4 awards were issued for the following:
The Optima Batteries Best Start award went to the No. 46 Mills Racing BMW Z4 as piloted by driver Kuno Wittmer for his two-position gain at the start of the race.
The KIA Turning Point of SprintX Round 4 was determined to be when Wittmer spun-out without contact in the No. 46 Mills Racing BMW and allowed the No. 23 M1 GT Racing Audi R8 piloted by Dion Von Moltke to pass.
The Cadillac Best Move of the race was issued to the No. 09 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 as it passed the No. 54 Racer’s Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 early in the race.
The VP Fuels Hard Charger award was given to the team driving the No. 07 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for its overall three-position gain.
Rounds 5 and 6 in the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX division are set for the 2016 season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 7-9.