LONG BEACH, Calif. – Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, WI, was fastest in Friday’s GT/GTA/GT Cup presented by MOMO class practice at the Streets of Long Beach, part of the Pirelli World Challenge ‘Roar by the Shore’ presented by Replay XD. Frank Montecalvo, of Highlands, NJ and Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, PA were fastest in GTA and GT Cup respectively.
Early in the 45-minute session, Butch Leitzinger, of Rebersburg, PA, in the No. 20 Team Bentley Dyson Racing Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Bentley Continental GT3 set the pace with a 1:22.583, only to be eclipsed by Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia with 1:21.029, followed by Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 with a 1:21.439.
By the 15-minute mark, it was Beretta still with the fastest lap (1:21.029), followed by Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, FL in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R (1:21.397), and Estre (1:21.439). Soon after Estre topped Dalziel with a 1:21.155.
At the 20-minute mark, Beretta improved his time with a 1:20.958. At the 22-minute mark it was Beretta, followed by Estre, with Dalziel, then Cunningham, in the No. 42 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT in fourth with a 1:21.405, followed by Mike Hedlund, of Woodside, CA in the No. 65 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia with a 1:21.448.
At the 25-minute mark Cadillac Racing’s Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, FL, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 and Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, GA, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 both vaulted up into the top 5 with a 1:21.209 and a 1:21.279 respectively.
At the 26-minute mark it was Beretta still holding top spot with a new best time of a 1:20.476, followed by Dalziel (1:21.134).
At the 27-minute mark, Montecalvo in the No. 66 DragonSpeed Bayshore Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 vaulted up to the second spot overall and tops in GTA with a 1:20.846, while class points leader Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, CA, in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3R followed with a 1:20.994.
With 15 minutes remaining in the session, Beretta was still on top of the charts over Montecalvo, Lewis, Dalziel, and Estre.
Then at the 32-minute mark, Cunningham rocketed to the top of the charts with a 1:20.274. Through 36 minutes, it was Cunningham, followed by Beretta (1:20.476), Estre (1:20.699), Dalziel (1:20.839) and Montecalvo (1:20.846).
Estre’s teammate Robert Thorne, of Littleton, CO, in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 jumped to third on the charts at the 39-minute mark with a 1:20.571.
With under five minutes remaining in the session, it was Cunningham (1:20.274), Beretta (1:20.476), Thorne (1:20.571), Estre (1:20.699), and Dalziel (1:20.839).
At the 43-minute mark, O’Connell jumped to second with a 1:20.294.
In GT Cup presented by MOMO, class points leader heading into the weekend Colin Thompson, in the No. 11 Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Constructors/Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes/Austin Hatcher Foundation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup recorded the fastest lap of the session with a 1:23.926, while Sloan Urry, of Salt Lake City, UT, in the No. 02 Engel & Volkers Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was second with a 1:23.931. Rounding out the top five in class were Phil Fogg Jr., of Portland, OR, in the No. 18 Zoro/Truspeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with a 1:25.508, Mitch Landry, of Lake Charles, LA, in the No. 97 with a Deep South/VersaCrane Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 1:26.367, and Lorenzo Trefethen, of Napa, CA, in the No. 13 Trefethen Family Vineyards Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with a 1:27.728.
In GT, the session ended with Cunningham followed by O’Connell, Beretta, Thorne and Estre. Fastest in GTA was Montecalvo with a 1:20.846, sitting ninth overall in GT.
“It feels really good to be fastest today, especially after the difficult weekend for me personally in St. Pete,” said Cunningham. “While this is just practice it is good to know the RealTime Acura TLX GT is really liking Long Beach. We are not only fast in a straight line, but also good through the twisty bits. The car was good right from the start. We made a small tire pressure change and a shock change to optimize the Acura during the session. We are looking good for qualifying and the race.”
Forty drivers across GT, GTA and GT Cup presented by MOMO classes are entered for Round 5 at Long Beach Sunday, April 19 at 4:30 pm Pacific on the 11-turn 1.968 mile street course in downtown Long Beach. Watch live streaming of the race at www.world-challengetv.com or www.torque.tv starting at 4 p.m. Pacific / 7 p.m. Eastern.
Qualifying for Round 5 is scheduled for Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Pacific/ 11:30 a.m. Eastern.