GRANTSVILLE, Utah – Young GT driving star Michael Lewis of Laguna Beach, Calif., made a tremendous comeback and last lap pass in the No. 98 Calvert Dynamics/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R Saturday at Utah Motorsports Park to win Round 3 of the SprintX 60-minute feature.
Co-driving with team owner Preston Calvert of Potomac, Md., Lewis, 26, tracked down GT-X class leader Kuno Wittmer of Montreal, Quebec, Canada from a 24-second deficit to take the lead on lap 32 in turn 8 and posted a 2.031-second victory to highlight a tough weekend for the Calvert Dynamics team. On Friday, the No. 77 Porsche 911 GT3 R suffered a severe engine fire in practice with Andrew Davis at the wheel. Davis jumped out without injury but the Porsche was heavily damaged.
Lewis, the St. Petersburg GT double winner, joined the Calvert Dynamics team at Road America after his early season ride was parked due to EFFORT Racing’s departure from the Pirelli World Challenge in May. Lewis qualified ninth in the No. 98 car for Saturday’s Round 16 in the GT category set for 4 p.m. MDT.
Second at the finish was the No. 46 Mills Racing BMW Z4 team of Wittmer and Michael Mills of Houston, Texas, which led from lap 17 to 31 in the 60-minute, two-driver event on Saturday. Third went to the No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R squad of Brent Holden of Newport Beach, Calif., and James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif.
In the GTS-X division, the No. 09 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 lineup of Jason Alexandridis of Novato, Calif., and Derek DeBoer of Ashland, Ore., was followed by the No. 54 Racer’s Edge Sin Car R1 GT4 team with Scott Heckert of Ridgefield, Conn., and Chris Beaufait of Freeland, Wash., and the No. 07 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 contingent of Max Riddle of Vancouver, B.C., Canada and veteran Kris Wilson of Littleton, Colo.
At the start of the SprintX race, local racer James Burke of Tooele, Utah took the No. 63 DXDT Racing Audi R8 Ultra GT3 to the lead and battled Mills for the first 16 laps of the event before pitting for a driver change on lap 17. Burke radioed his crew on lap 16 that his car’s gearbox temperature had risen as he scheduled his pit stop for co-driver and co-team owner David Askew of Salt Lake City was scheduled to take over the driving chores. Unfortunately, Askew could not restart the Audi in pit lane as the team prepared to re-enter the track. The gearbox issue kept the car in pit lane and effectively retired it from the event.
Wittmer then held the advantage for the balance of the race until the final lap when Lewis made the pass for the lead in turn five and took the checkered flag for the Calvert Dynamic team’s emotional victory.
“When I jumped in the car, I just wanted to be consistent and run a solid pace,” said Lewis. “Then towards the end of the race, I was getting info from the team that we were closing quite fast. To be honest, I felt that the chance for a pass was going to be very last minute and on the last lap. I knew I needed to wait as long as possible until there was a time to pass. As soon as I saw the white flag, I thought I was closing rapidly then started setting up a strategy to make the pass. Kuno was doing a good job of defending and I knew he would make it hard for the pass. But I was able to get by in turn five. We had a clean pit stop practice and Preston did a good job early in the race. I saw a car in the distance after I jumped in and thought I might have a chance to close. It’s an exciting way to come back for the team after Friday’s tough day.”
Calvert was excited for the victory after an extremely hard 24 hours with the No. 77 practice fire.
“First, we were shocked after the fire on Friday,” said Preston. “We were worried about Andrew and then realized he was out of the car. We had to watch a beloved race car go up in flames and smoke. That was very hard. But we all went home and said that is racing. We came back today and I had an offer from Michael to drive in SprintX with him today. We came to the track today with a positive outlook. I had a very good start but we were three-wide for the lead and I knew Michael had the GT race later today. So I backed out and just let everyone go through turn one. Michael did an incredible job to come back for the win. It’s a pleasure to have drivers like Michael and Andrew Davis working with our team. At the end, we were doing the math in our heads to figure out if Michael could catch Kuno. We were overjoyed with the win and everyone was almost in tears due to the tough turnaround and very hard past 24 hours.”
“As usual the whole TRG team put together an amazing car,” said DeBoer. “Thanks to all of them, BRM Chronographs, Rebounderz, Simon Ward, Pirada de la Strada, Racing for Cancer and again we were fighting for Mason’s Hope this weekend so it is great to have a good result to show. I couldn’t have asked more from teammate Jason. He put together an amazing opening stint and made my job really easy. We have a lot of family support here, our wives Brooke and Maggie are here and it’s just amazing. I’m starting to get used to the smell of champagne after races.”
“I am incredibly excited for Derek and I to get our first win,” Alexandridis said. I think it was a hard fought first stint. I executed the plan I was looking to do exactly which was to stay in the mirrors and keep the pressure on so I was happy to do that. I just want to thank Derek, the team TRG-AMR, Kevin Buckler, he puts together an amazing program and he has an amazing team. I never have to worry about the car or logistics. I am stoked to get my first Pirelli World Challenge win.”
Of note, the fastest laps of the SprintX Round 3 went to Lewis with a 1:50.333 in the GT-X category with Alexandridis posting the top time in GTS-X at 1:59.093.
Race awards were issued for the following:
Optima Batteries Best Start award was issued to GTX car No. 23 for the early position gain at the start of the race.
KIA Turning Point was determined to be the slowing of the Mills/Wittmer No. 46 Mills Racing BMW Z4 which allowed the Calvert/Lewis No. 98 car to close the margin of difference.
The Cadillac Best Move of the race went to the Calvert/Lewis No. 98 car for the pass of the No. 46 car on the white flag lap of the race.
VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger was issued to the No. 98 car for its three-position gain.
SprintX classes return to the track for the next 60 minutes of Round 4 at 4:00 p.m. MDT on Sunday. Live timing can be viewed LiveTiming.net/PWC/ while live streaming of the event can be viewed at MotorTrendOnDemand.com.
Grantsville, UT – Results from Saturday, Aug 13, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship SprintX Round 3 Race, part of the Grand Prix at UMC Presented by Energy Solutions. All results are provisional until posted Final.
Pos. PIC, Class, Name, Hometown, Car, Laps, Status
1. 1, GT-X, Michael Lewis/Preston Calvert, Laguna Beach CA/Potomac MD, Porsche 911 GT3, 32, Running
2. 2, GT-X, Kuno Wittmer/Michael Mills, Montreal QC/Houston TX/Houston TX/Houston TX, BMW Z4, 32, Running
3. 3, GT-X, James Sofronas/Brent Holden, Villa Park CA/Newport Beach CA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 32, Running
4. 4, GT-X, David Ostella/Walt Bowlin, Toronto On/Tarpon Springs FL, Audi R8, 32, Running
5. 1, GTS-X, Derek DeBoer/Jason Alexandridis, Novato CA/Ashland OR, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 30, Running
6. 2, GTS-X, Scott Heckert/Chris Beaufait, Ridgefield CT/Freeland WA, SIN R1 GT4, 29, Running
7. 3, GTS-X, Kris Wilson/Max Riddle, Vancouver BC/Littleton CO, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 27, Running
8. 5, GT-X, David Askew/James Burke, Salt Lake City UT/Tooele UT, Audi R8 Ultra GT3, 16, Not Running