ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Tomas Enge, of Kirchanschoering, Germany, scored his second career Pirelli World Challenge Series GT win in Round 11 at the DeVILBISS Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac. Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif. scored his fourth GTA win of the 2015 season.
From the standing start, Enge who started in the runner-up spot in his No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2, overtook pole-sitter Butch Leitzinger, of Rebersburg, Pa., in the No. 20 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil1 Team Bentley Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3. Through turn 1, it was Enge, Mike Skeen, from Charlotte, N.C., who started third in the No. 2 DeVILBISS/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra, and Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, Fla., who started fourth in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R, and Leitzinger.
Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V R GT3, limped off the line in the 11th spot bringing out a full-course yellow – but O’Connell regained power, and the field came around to take the restart to commence lap 2 at the challenging 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course.
Of note, Chris Dyson, who originally qualified second for the race, was moved to the back of the grid due to a post-qualifying technical infraction.
Running in his first Pirelli World Challenge race of the season, Enge never relinquished the top spot, and won by a 6.3-second margin ahead of JD Davison, of St. Petersburg, Fla., who was piloting the No. 33 AE/Replay XD Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. Skeen finished third to continue his hot streak at Road America after taking wins in both GT races last season.
Heitkotter, who started on pole in GTA, was not challenged in clinching his fourth win in class of the season, driving the No. 05 Nissan GT Academy GT-R GT3. Heitkotter said he was pleasantly surprised with his performance.
“I just love Road America,” said Heitkotter. “I always seem to go well here and I really don’t know why. It has just about everything for a race track with long straights, fast and slow turns and great braking zones. Today was a great way to start off the weekend and I hope to keep it going for Saturday and Sunday.”
Arguably one of the most exciting battles of Friday’s event occurred in the GTA field between Henrique Cisneros and Eric Lux on laps 10 and 11. The pair were battling for second spot in turn 14, and the racers ran side by side until Cisneros, of Miami, Fla., piloting the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, took over the spot ahead of Lux, from Buffalo, N.Y., driving the No. 08 Rembrandt Charms Monticello MC Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3, in turn three, 24 minutes into the 50-minute timed event.
Another dramatic point of the race came as Dalziel, running in second on lap 19, fell off the pace and faded when his Porsche sustained a flat left rear tire in turn three. Almost immediately as Dalziel slowed on course, Davison was able to get around Skeen going into turn 2 to take over the runner-up position. Davison’s move on Skeen netted him the Cadillac Move of the Race Award.
Kevin Estre of Lochau, Austria, who came into Round 11 second in GT points, started in 10th for the race but faded on lap 18 when a flat left tire forced him to pit his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3. Estre ultimately finished 20th on the day.
Meantime, Enge, who won the 2014 season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Fla., posted less-than-stellar results in last year’s Pirelli World Challenge’s stop at Road America, with 9th- and 16th-place efforts. In securing the Round 11 win, Enge said he was pleased to take care of unfinished business.
“Now, I have won in two different years in the series,” Enge said. “I know that the standard of this series is very high. (The Series) has increased the (competition) with more good GT3 cars and professional drivers. I knew today’s race wasn’t going to be easy. I was shocked with my start today. It was very good. I haven’t driven in many standing start races lately. In Europe, we have had mostly rolling starts. I was pretty nervous before the start of today’s race. Ryan (Dalziel) was pushing me quite hard at the start of the race but I was able to concentrate well and keep focused on not making any mistakes. After my accident Thursday in practice, the car really ran well. The crew guys were here at the track until 4 in the morning and back again at 7 am. I also didn’t sleep much. It was a nice comeback today. Now, I am really looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
Of note, Dyson claimed the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award for his move on Cisneros on Lap 15. In addition, Ryan Eversley of Atlanta, Ga., driving the No. 43 Acura Motorsports RealTime Racing HPD Acura TLX-GT gained 10 positions during the race to earn the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award. Eversley also claimed the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award for gaining six positions when the lights went out to start the race.
GT points leader Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, finished fourth in the field piloting the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia. Results are provisional until posted final.
ELKHART LAKE, WI – Provisional results from Friday’s 24-lap 97.151 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship GT/GTA Round 11 race, part of the DeVILBISS Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. GT, (2), Tomas Enge, Kirchanschoering Germany, Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2, 24.
2. GT, (6), JD Davison, St Petersburg, Fla., Nissan GT-R GT3, 24, -6.303.
3. GT, (3), Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 24, -9.303.
4. GT, (5), Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 24, -12.077.
5. GT, (1), Butch Leitzinger, Rebersburg, Pa., Bentley Continental GT3, 24, -12.404.
6. GT, (26), Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, N.Y., Bentley Continental GT3, 24, -22.745.
7. GT, (7), Bryan Heitkotter(A), Fresno, Calif., Nissan GT-R GT3, 24, -26.244.
8. GT, (11), Johnny O’Connell, Flowery Branch, Ga., Cadillac ATS-VR GT3, 24, -35.893.
9. GT, (18), Ryan Eversley, Atlanta, Ga., Acura TLX-GT, 24, -38.598.
10. GT, (16), Henrique Cisneros(A), Miami, Fla., Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 24, -39.279.
11. GT, (17), Eric Lux(A), Buffalo, N.Y., Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3, 24, -41.084.
12. GT, (15), Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, Calif., Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 24, -49.104.
13. GT, (12), Timothy Pappas(A), Boston, Mass., Dodge Viper GT3R, 24, -49.250.
14. GT, (13), Robert Thorne, Littleton, Colo., McLaren 650S GT3, 24, -50.044.
15. GT, (21), Dan Knox(A), Pilot Point, Texas, Dodge Viper GT3-R, 24, -50.638.
16. GT, (19), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Cadillac ATS-VR GT3, 24, -51.069.
17. GT, (22), James Sofronas, Pound Ridge, N.Y., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 24, -56.616.
18. GT, (23), Martin Fuentes(A), Mexico City, Mexico, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 24, -1:01.083.
19. GT, (20), Jeff Courtney(A), Milwaukee, Wis., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 24, -1:19.026.
20. GT, (10), Kevin Estre, Lochau Austria, , McLaren 650S GT3, 24, -2:02.409.
21. GT, (24), Drew Regitz(A), Denver, Colo., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 23, -1 lap.
22. GT, (25), Bill Ziegler(A), Ponte Vedra, Fla., BMW E89 Z4 GT3, 23, -1 lap.
23. GT, (9), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TLX-GT, 21, -3 lap.
24. GT, (4), Ryan Dalziel, Windermere, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3R, 19, -5 lap.
25. GT, (14), Frank Montecalvo(A), Highlands, N.J., Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3, 3, Mech.
26. GT, (8), Michael Lewis(R), Laguna Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3R, 0, Mech.
Time of race: 51 minutes, 33.940 seconds.
Average speed: 113.042 mph
Margin of victory: 6.303 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-24, #25 Tomas Enge
Fastest race lap: #2 Mike Skeen, 2:06.373 (115.315 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #20 Butch Leitzinger, 2:03.912 (117.606 mph)