LONG BEACH, Calif. – The Pirelli World Challenge GT, GTA and GT Cup presented by MOMO classes head west for their second straight street race, at the iconic 11-turn 1.968 mile street course in downtown Long Beach. Drivers will compete in Round 5 of the 2015 season, and the ‘Roar by the Shore’ presented by Replay XD, as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.
This year marks the tenth time Pirelli World Challenge has raced at Long Beach, dating to its first appearance in 2006. A full field of 40 cars from GT, GTA and GT Cup will be on hand, seeking to add their name to the illustrious list of winners at North America’s most legendary street race circuit. All past winners have started in the top five overall, and three-time defending series champion Johnny O’Connell returns to Long Beach as defending race winner.
Pirelli World Challenge GT: Beretta, Dalziel, O’Connell Among Drivers to Watch
Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, in the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, surged into the GT class points lead on the strength of his second win in four races in Round 4 at St. Petersburg. But he only holds a two-point lead over Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, Fla., in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3 R (421-419). Dalziel has three runner-up finishes and a fourth place finish in four races in 2015.
Both Beretta and Dalziel have past Long Beach experience, but not in Pirelli World Challenge. Beretta has two class wins and Dalziel one class win in other sports car championships.
O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., will seek to deliver the first win for Cadillac Racing’s new Cadillac ATS-V.R. The driver of the No. 3 Cadillac won last year’s race and has one other class win at the track. O’Connell’s teammate, Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, scored the pole for Round 4 in St. Petersburg and has finished second at Long Beach each of the last two years.
Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, enters the weekend third in points in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3, 16 behind Beretta. Estre will be making his track debut, and looks to add his second win of the season this weekend.
The other race winner this season heading into Long Beach is Ryan Eversley, of Atlanta, in the No. 43 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT. Eversley enters sixth in points after scoring a well-judged win in Round 3 from pole, and will make his maiden race appearance on the streets of Long Beach this weekend.
Their respective teammates, Robert Thorne, of Littleton, Col. in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3 and Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis. in the No. 42 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT, look to build on best finishes of 10th and 11th thus far this season.
Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 2 DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS ultra and JD Davison, of St. Petersburg, Fla., in the No. 33 AE/Replay XD Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 are set to continue their St. Petersburg battle heading into Long Beach. The pair enter eighth and ninth in points. Skeen’s CRP Racing team debuted its new Audi this race last year; Davison makes his first Long Beach start since the Indy Lights race in 2009.
Bentley Team Dyson Racing heads to Long Beach with a pair of track veterans set to provide the Bentley Continental GT3 its track debut. Chris Dyson, of Pleasant Valley, N.Y. will be in the No. 16 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil1 Bentley Continental GT3 with Butch Leitzinger, of Rebersburg, Pa. in the No. 20 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil1 Bentley Continental GT3. Dyson has four class podiums at Long Beach, while Leitzinger has one class win and two other podiums here.
GMG Racing’s James Sofronas, of Villa Park, Calif., will fly the local flag for both driver and team in the No. 14 GMG Racing/Spyder/Mobil 1 Audi R8 LMS ultra. Sofronas is a past Long Beach race winner (2013) and posted a season-best result of eighth last time out in St. Petersburg.
A pair of California natives will look to impress for Scuderia Corsa, in Giacomo Mattioli’s squad’s home race. Mike Hedlund, of Woodside, Calif., will be in the No. 65 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 with Duncan Ende, of Los Angeles, in the No. 64 Merchant Services Ltd./Linospresso USA Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Rounding out the GT field is three-time champion Lou Gigliotti. He will drive the No. 28 LG Motorsports Aston Martin GT3 V12.
Pirelli World Challenge GTA: Lewis, Montecalvo Lead Field into Long Beach
Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, Calif., has opened his GTA campaign with three wins and a second in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R. Lewis sits seventh in overall GT points heading into his home race, and he pilots the car formerly driven by Michael Mills, who recorded the GTA class win here last year.
Meanwhile DragonSpeed’s trio of drivers, any of Frankie Montecalvo, Eric Lux or Henrik Hedman will look to take him down. Montecalvo, of Highlands, N.J. won Round 4 in the No. 66 Bayshore Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3; Lux, of Buffalo, N.Y. ended third in Round 3 in the No. 08 Rembrandt Charms/Monticello Motor Club Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. Hedman, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., will drive the No. 10 DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and was second overall in GTA championship points last year.
Henrique Cisneros, of Miami, will be one to watch this weekend in the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. Cisneros was a class winner in another series his last start at Long Beach in 2013, and enters third in GTA points with two third-place finishes in his last three races.
Christina Nielsen, of Aarhus, Denmark, is the other podium finisher to date this year in the No. 7 Orion/Royal Purple/LaSalle Solutions/PassTime USA Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. She’ll make her track debut this weekend.
Mexican driver Martin Fuentes, of Mexico City, will look to join the list of GTA podium finishers in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3; he enters the weekend fourth in GTA points. Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif., will be in the rebuilt No. 05 Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 after missing Round 4 due to an accident.
Turner Motorsport’s veteran pair of Bret Curtis and Bill Ziegler are set to make their fourth and sixth Long Beach Pirelli World Challenge starts this weekend. Curtis, of Austin, will be in the No. 32 Spectra Resources/United Steel Supply BMW E89 Z4 GT3, and Ziegler, of Ponte Vedra, Fla. will be in the No. 95 Swisher Racing BMW E89 Z4 GT3.
Three Audis are entered in GTA. Drew Regitz, of Denver, will be in the No. 19 WWW.IRACECOACHING.COM Audi R8 LMS ultra, Brent Holden, of Newport Beach, Calif., will be in the No. 44 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra and Jeff Courtney, of Milwaukee, will be in the No. 99 Kenda/Recstuff.com Audi R8 LMS ultra. Last year at Long Beach, Regitz finished sixth in GTS, with Courtney third in GTA.
Teaming up with GMG and James Sofronas is David Welch, of Napa, CA, in the No. 21 GMG Universal Industrial Sales/GMG/Audi Sports Customer Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra. Welch has 12 career Pirelli World Challenge starts.
Both Tim Pappas, of Boston, in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and Dan Knox, of Pilot Point, Texas in the No. 80 ACS Manufacturing/Lone Star Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R, look to bounce back at Long Beach after contact between the two took them both out of Round 4 at St. Petersburg.
Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup presented by MOMO: Thompson Looks to Add to Early Season Success
Despite being caught up in the start line accident in Round 3, Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, Pa. bounced back nicely with his third win in four starts in Round 4. Thompson will look for more in Round 5, again behind the wheel of No. 11 Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Constructors/Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes/Austin Hatcher Foundation Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Thompson leads the points by 79 over Lorenzo Trefethen, of Napa, Calif., who heads into his first Long Beach start in the No. 13 Trefethen Family Vineyards Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Trefethen rebounded from a practice accident at St. Pete to score his first two class podiums, his first class pole and his first fastest race lap in St. Petersburg.
TruSpeed Autosport’s Sloan Urry, of Salt Lake City, sits third in points on the strength of three runner-up finishes in the No. 02 Engel & Volkers Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Teammate Phil Fogg Jr., of Portland, won Round 3 in the No. 18 Zoro/TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and enters the weekend fifth in points.
Preston Calvert, of Potomac, Md. in the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and Victor Gomez Jr., of San Juan, Puerto Rico in the No. 81 Porsche San Juan Porsche 911 GT3 Cup enter Long Beach each with two top-five finishes in class apiece this year.
Mitch Landry, of Lake Charles, La. in the No. 97 Landry Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup makes his first GT Cup start at Long Beach after running in GTS last year, while Eduardo Cisneros, of Miami, in the No. 29 MOMO NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup rounds out the nine-car class.
Streets of Long Beach, 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street course
Saturday, April 18: GT/GTA/GT Cup Qualifying, 8:30 a.m. Pacific/ 11:30 a.m. Eastern
50 minutes (GT/GTA/GT Cup)
Live Internet Telecast (on www.world-challengeTV.com and www.torque.tv):
Sunday, April 19:
• Pre-Race Show: 4 p.m. Pacific / 7 p.m. Eastern
• GT Race: 4:30 p.m. Pacific / 7:30 p.m. Eastern
Television (on CBS Sports Network):
Sunday, April 26, 3:30 p.m. Eastern : GT/GTA, GT Cup presented by MOMO