Long, Morad both break O’Connell record with Montecalvo setting GTA mark
BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Canada – Sports car star Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., continued his dominance of the legendary Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Friday by driving the No. 58 Wright Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R to a new qualifying record, breaking the two-year standing record of Johnny O’Connell, in the Pirelli World Challenge Victoria Day Speedfest.
Long, a double winner in GT last year at CTMP, recorded a time of one minute, 15.221 seconds for an average speed of 117.68 miles per hour, just besting O’Connell’s 2015 record of 1:15.296 (117.568 mph) at the historic 2.458-mile, 10-turn road circuit northeast of Toronto. The top six drivers were driving six different auto makes Friday in the SprintX qualifying.
Long, who’ll team with Jörg Bergmeister of Germany Saturday and Sunday in the two 60-minute, two-drive one pit stop SprintX feature races, won both poles and GT main events last year in his debut with the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. The duo will start from the pole position Saturday with Canadian favorite Daniel Morad and Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel rounding out the front row in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“CTMP has been good to us,” said Long. “If you would have asked me last night if we were going to be on pole today, I wouldn’t have taken that bet. It’s come a different way than last year, with the same outcome. I’m equally as proud but it’s a little sweeter this time because we really had to dig deep today. We tried a lot of things on the car and with the two-driver format, it’s fewer laps around the place for me.
“But, we just went out there calm and assertive and it went our way. Obviously, there are a few cars that have a bit more speed than us, but things fell our way today. I’m really proud of Wright Motorsports and the guys that had to put a lot of time into this car. We had to bounce back from some tough adversity from the 2nd race at VIR. It took a lot of hours to rebuild the car and engine since we had massive damage, so this is extra special.”
Morad, the 27-year-old from Markham, Ont., Canada, was a SprintX GT winner at VIR in his Pirelli World Challenge debut and returned to his home track with another impressive showing, taking second on the SprintX grid Friday with a 1:15.226 (117.67 mph) run. That was just 5 thousands of a second off of Long’s record run.
Third on the SprintX 32-car lineup will be Alex Riberas of Spain, who teams with Canadian Kyle Marcelli, with the No. 61 RFerri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 with a 1:15.399 (117.40 mph). Actually, Riberas would have set a new track record Friday but lost the fastest lap when he caused a red flag due to an accident in turn three, a violation of competition rules.
Rounding out the top-five in the Pro/Pro division are four-time PWC GT champion O’Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., who’ll team with Ricky Taylor, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. at 1:15.457 (117.31 mph) and Adderly Fong of Hong Kong in the No. 88 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3 at 1:15.764 (116.37 mph). Fong will team with Vincent April of Monaco this weekend at CTMP.
Former GTA series champion Frankie Montecalvo of Highlands, N.J., broke his own GTA (Pro/Am) qualifying track record Friday in the No. 75 Always Evolving/AIM Autosport Nissan GT-R Nismo with a time of 1:15.779 (116.81 mph), just a little quicker than the 2015 mark of 1:15.855 (116.701 mph).
Taking second in the Pro/Am qualifying was Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., in the sister car to Long’s, the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with a 1:16.069 (116.37 mph) followed by Long Beach GTA winner James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., in the No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R at 1:16.837 (115.21 mph).
“This is my favorite track,” said Montecalvo. “I’m happy to be here with AIM Autosport and Always Evolving. I think this is their home track as well, so it’s good that we’re here. I love coming here – it something that just flows and you can really connect as a driver and really just put the pieces together to make a quick lap. So, it was a good time to get that lap in. It’s definitely an art. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you get traffic early. We definitely timed it out well.”
Other pole winners in SprintX include Yuki Harata of Japan in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan in GT Cup Pro/Am at 1:21.338 (208.83 mph); Corey Friedman of Charleston, S.C., in the No. 90 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in GT Cup Am/Am at 1:21.856 (108.14 mph); Aristotle Balogh of Palo Alto, Calif., in GTS Am/Am at 1:25.131 (103.98 mph) and George Kurtz of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in GTS Pro/Am at 1:25.566 (103.45 mph).
SprintX Round 3 will be Saturday at 1:45 p.m. and will be live streamed on www.motortrendondemand.com and www.world-challenge.com. Sunday’s Round 4 of SprintX is set for 3:40 p.m.