St. Petersburg, Fla. – Michael Lewis scored a flag-to-flag GT victory in Saturday’s Round 3 race at the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Martin Fuentes and Sloan Urry won in GTA and GT Cup respectively. The 50-minute race was held under partly cloudy skies and 71-degree temperatures.
When the green flag flew, pole-sitter Lewis, in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R, launched cleanly into the lead through turn 1, with second-on-the-grid Alvaro Parente, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 slotting into second, and third-on-the-grid Johnny O’Connell, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. in third. O’Connell’s teammate Michael Cooper, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. followed in 4th.
In GTA, pole sitter Fuentes, in the No. 07 Hublot/Under Armour Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia slotted into first in class and 12th overall in the race, while GT Cup pole sitter Urry, in the No. 20 Security National/Avasis Porsche 911 GT3 Cup led over Alec Udell, in the No. 17 Amsource Capital/Panther Pipeline machine.
Of note, Patrick Long, in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3 R started from the back of the field in 19th after the team worked tiredlessly to repair his car following the significant damage the machine sustained in Round 2 last Sunday at Circuit of the Americas. With repairs ongoing, Long was unable to take to the track for Round 3 qualifying completed on Friday.
By lap 5, Lewis had built a .968-second lead over Parente and a 3.5-second lead over O’Connell in third place. Lewis continued to open up the gap and by lap 13 led Parente by over 2.045 seconds, with O’Connell running 6.6 seconds behind.
In GTA, Frankie Montecalvo, in the No. 66 DIME R&D Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 closed the gap to two seconds on Fuentes with the two running 16th and 17th overall in the race. Urry still led over Udell by just under a second in GT Cup. On lap 15, Montecalvo dropped a few positions after spinning in turn 4. The car did not contact the wall and he resumed under power.
By lap 21, Lewis continued to lead Parente with the gap up to four-seconds with O’Connell still in third, Cooper in fourth and 17-year-old Austin Cindric, in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 in fifth. A hard charging Long had moved up to 10th.
Further back in the field an intense battle raged with Andrew Palmer, in the No. 87 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3 and Ryan Eversley, in the No. 43 Acura/HPD/Red Line Oil/RealTime Acura TLX-GT going door-to-door for a number of laps vying for 8th with the drivers trading the position back and forth. Long joined the battle and was able to get around both.
At the checkered, Lewis scored his first career GT win, over ten-seconds ahead of Parente in second. O’Connell finished third, Cooper fourth and Cindric fifth. Fuentes and Urry took their third straight wins of the season in GTA and GT Cup respectfully. Long finished in seventh, gaining 12 positions overall during the race to secure the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award. Long also won the Optima Batteries Best Start award for gaining three positions on the first lap of the race.
Lewis registered the fastest lap during the race and will start on pole for Round 4. Fuentes and Urry also secured the poles for tomorrow’s race with fastest laps in their respective classes. The Cadillac ATS.V Move of the Race was awarded to Eversley for his pass on Adderly Fong, in the No. 88 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3.
“It is so special to be sitting in victory lane especially with the overall win,” said Lewis. “The race was a tough one with no yellow flags and it was flat out all the way. I knew that Alvaro (Parente) had a quick car in the McLaren but our EFFORT Racing Porsche was just a terrific car today. I had some pressure in the first five laps. My engineers said just to keep my head down and don’t worry about the things behind you. It was hot out there and I wanted to hit my marks every time. I was actually preparing for a restart because I was sure there was going to be a yellow flag or a green-white-checkered situation. So I was trying to conserve my tires for a late race caution. Starting from pole position really makes things so much easier for the race. So qualifying is extremely important here or any street course. We look at video from practice to qualifying to the race and study the track. A lot of the work starts before we get to the track, then throughout the weekend. I want to thank Patrick Long for his mentoring and assistance in setting up the car. He couldn’t qualify for today’s race due to the crash at COTA last week but he did a super job driving through the field for seventh. He would have been right up there if he could have qualified yesterday. Following the COTA events last weekend, the team did a spectacular job preparing my car as well as rebuilding Patrick’s Porsche. Just a sensational effort by the EFFORT Racing team this week.”
“This was a very difficult race for us today. We had overheating problems in the middle of the race,” said Fuentes. “We saw that Montecalvo, my closest competitor, was falling back a little so I slowed the pace. It helped the car too since I shut off the all of the air conditioning to cool things inside the car. So it was a hot race for me today. With the walls of a street circuit, the air doesn’t get to the car as well and overheating can be a problem here. As usual, Scuderia Corsa gave me a great car and it feels great to win our third race in a row. Again, just like COTA, I was in the mix the GT cars and they were really fighting for their positions. I needed to be careful around them and not get in an incident due to their battles.”
“It was a pretty straight forward race for us today,” said Urry. “We had a great car right out of the trailer. I was very impressive how quick the car was immediately. We had the race to lose today and I felt confident. I just drove it like qualifying with my head down. I made one mistake that I’m not too happy about. But luckily I had a big enough gap that it didn’t matter. It’s great to get the win for Security National Mortgage here.
Results are provisional until posted final. GT, GTA and GT Cup drivers now get set for Round 4 of the 2016 season. Watch the race live at motortrendondemand.com starting at 3:15 p.m. Eastern Sunday. Follow live timing and scoring at world-challenge.com.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Round 3 race results Saturday for the Pirelli World Challenge GT division at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Pos., Starting Pos., Number, Class Pos., Driver, Hometown, State, Car, Team, Laps
1 1, 41, GT 1, Michael Lewis, Laguna Beach, CA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, EFFORT Racing, 40 laps
2 2, 9, GT 2, Alvaro Parente, Porto, Portugal, McLaren 650S, K-PAX Racing, 40
3 3, 3, GT 3, Johnny O’Connell, Flowery Branch, GA, Cadillac ATS-V.R., Cadillac Racing, 40
4 5, 8, GT 4, Michael Cooper, Syosset NY, Cadillac ATS-V.R., Cadillac Racing, 40
5, 4, GT 5, Austin Cindric, Charlotte NC, McLaren 650S, K-PAX Racing, 40
6, 8, 99, GT 6, Jon Fogarty, Bend OR, McLaren 650S GT3, Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing, 40
7, 19, 31, GT 7, Patrick Long, Manhattan Beach, CA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, EFFORT Racing, 40
8 7, 76, GT 8, Andrew Davis, Athens GA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, Calvert Dynamics, 40
9 10, 05, GT 9, Bryan Heitkotter, Fresno CA, Nissan GTR GT3, AE Replay XD Nissan GT Academy, 40
10 16, 43, GT 10 Ryan Eversley, Atlanta GA, Acura TLX-GT / RealTime Racing, 40
11 11, 2, GT 11, Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, Canada, Audi R8, CRP Racing, 40
12 9, 87, GT 12, Andrew Palmer, Los Angeles, CA, Bentley Continental GT3, Bentley Team Absolute, 40
13 18, 42, GT 13, Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, WI, Acura TLX-GT, RealTime Racing, 40
14 11, 88, GT 14, Adderly Fong, Hong Kong, Bentley Continental GT3, Bentley Team Absolute, 40
15 17, 67, GT 15, Duncan Ende, Los Angeles CA, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, TRG-AMR, 40
16 13, 07, GTA 1, Martin Fuentes, Mexico City, Mexico, Ferrari 458 Italia, Scuderia Corsa, 40
17 14, 13, GT 16, Colin Thompson, Doylestown, PA, McLaren 650S, K-PAX Racing, 39
18 15, 66, GTA 2, Frankie Montecalvo, Highlands NJ, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, DIME Racing, 39
19 19, 20, GT Cup 1, Sloan Urry,Park City UT, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, TruSpeed Autosport, 38
20 23, 17, GT Cup 2, Alec Udell, The Woodlands, TX, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, GMG, 38
21 22, 77, GT Cup 3, Preston Calvert, Potomac MD, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Calvert Dynamics, 38
22 21, 00, GT Cup 4, Corey Fergus, Columbus OH, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Motorsports Promotions, 37
23 6, 33, GT 17, JD Davison, Denver CO, Nissan GTR GT3, AE Replay XD Nissan GT Academy, 26
Margin of Victory GT: 10.113 seconds
Margin of Victory GTA: 9.548 seconds
Margin of Victory GT Cup: 1 lap
Fastest race lap: Michael Lewis, 1 minute, 13.762 seconds