TOOELE, Utah – Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga scored his third GT win of the Pirelli World Challenge 2015 season in Round 16 at Miller Motorsports Park for the Ford Grand Prix presented by VP Racing Fuels. Frankie Montecalvo of Highlands, N.J scored his fifth win in GTA, while Alec Udell, of The Woodlands, Texas scored his second win of the season in GT Cup in Round 14.
From the rolling start, O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 was briefly challenged on the outside in turn one by James Davison of St. Petersburg, Fla. in the No. 33 Nissan AE/ReplayXD/NISSAN NISMO GT-R GT3, but the Nissan driver couldn’t make the outside move work. Davison then fended off teammate Bryan Heitkotter of Fresno, Calif. in the No. 05 AE Replay XD NISSAN GT NISMO GT-R GT3.
After qualifying on pole, Guy Smith of Beverley, England in the No. 20 Team Bentley Bentley/Breitling/Mobil1 Bentley Continental GT3 was forced to start at the back of the GT field following a post-qualifying technical infraction. Smith got to business quickly moving up to 16th on the opening lap.
In GTA, pole sitter Montecalvo in the No. 66 Bayshore Racing DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 led the class through lap one from the start and sat eight overall after lap one, with Martin Fuentes, of Mexico City, Mexico in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa/Hublot/Samsung/UnderArmour Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia in second and Eric Lux, of Buffalo, N.Y., in the 08 Rembrandt Charms/Monticello Motor Club DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 in third.
In GT Cup, class points leader Colin Thompson of Doylestown, Pa., in the No. 11 Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Constructors/Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes/Austin Hatcher Foundation Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup led Alec Udell, in the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports/Amsource Capital/Panther Pipeline GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and Salt Lake City’s Sloan Urry, in the No. 02 Security National/Engel & Volkers TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in third.
A full-course caution would fly during the opening lap as the No. 95 Swisher Racing Turner Motorsport BMW E89 Z4 GT3 sat wounded outside of turn 1. The No. 95 machine contacted with several cars as competitors went three abreast through the corner.
On the lap 4 restart, O’Connell and the front runners launched cleanly. Behind them championship contender Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia spun on the front straight but was able to continue without significant damage to the car.
Into turn 1, O’Connell was just ahead of another pass attempt by Heitkotter on his teammate Davison. From there, O’Connell would slowly stretch and manage his lead throughout the race ahead of Davison and Heitkotter.
Montecalvo maintained his GTA class lead running 8th overall in the race, with Fuentes second in class and 10th overall. GTA championship points leader coming into the weekend Henrique Cisneros, of Miami, Fla, in the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia moved into third in class and 14th overall in the race. Thompson, Udell and Urry held their positions in GT Cup.
On lap five, Smith continued his drive through the field, and was now up to ninth overall. He moved a lap later on Montecalvo over eighth overall.
That gave Smith access to a near-race long battle among a number of cars, with Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, Fla. in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R leading a train from fifth to tenth while Nicky Catsburg of Kirchanschoring, Germany in the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 ran relatively uncontested in fourth for the duration of the 50-minute race.
On lap 7, the contest for the GT Cup lead got taken up a notch as Udell passed Thompson, with Thompson taking the lead back on lap 9.
Meanwhile, Smith would move his Bentley around Peter Cunningham of Milwaukee, Wis. in the No. 42 RealTime Racing RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT for seventh, and spent a number of laps looking for a way by Michael Lewis of Laguna Beach, Calif. in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3R but not succeeding. In GTA, Montecalvo continued to manage his class lead.
While all this was going on, Chris Dyson of Pleasant Valley, N.Y. in the No. 16 Team Bentley Dyson Racing Bentley/Breitling/Mobil1 Bentley Continental GT3 pitted for a new left front tire, significantly dropping him back through the field.
The battle in GT Cup continued as Thompson, under pressure from Udell, ran wide and allowed Udell to take the class lead. On lap 21, the two ran side-by-side for corner after corner, with neither driver giving an inch. As Udell pulled slightly ahead, Thompson blinked in turn one and lost control, spinning and giving Udell the victory as Thompson would still manage to come home second.
On lap 24, there was a shuffle in GT that saw Cunningham advance to seventh behind the two EFFORT Porsches, bringing Andy Pilgrim of Boca Raton, Fla. in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 with him. Smith dropped back to ninth where he would ultimately finish.
The GTA points leader Cisneros also found his way off course late in the race, falling back to finish fourth in GTA behind Eric Lux of Buffalo, N.Y. in the No. 07 Dragonspeed Rembrandt Charms/Monticello Motor Club Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 in third and Fuentes’ Ferrari, which finished second in GTA.
In turn 1 a lap later, Pilgrim got around Cunningham for seventh overall, where he would finish ahead of the No. 42 Acura in eighth. Ryan Dalziel and Michael Lewis were fifth and sixth at checkered flag, respectively.
As the checkered flew, O’Connell scored his first victory since winning at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in May. Davison would follow in second ahead of Heitkotter in third position. Montecalvo won over Fuentes, and Lux. Udell took the win over Thompson and Urry.
“I got a good start. It’s always better to be on the pole for those rolling starts,” said O’Connell. “James (Davison) and I were neck and neck heading down into turn one. I took a little bit of a defense line going down in there. The Nissan of JD did a great job of getting me to go in deep into the corner. Then he got into the marbles on the outside and I was able to pull out a bit. I really like the circuit here. It suits me and it has a nice rhythm for me. I am very happy to be back in victory lane. Hopefully I can get another one on Sunday. This was a critical weekend for everyone at Cadillac Racing. They have really been digging deep lately. It’s one of those deals that the car is fast and I just didn’t want to blow it. Man, this GT division is just so competitive right now. It is tough to collect these trophies this year.”
“It was a great race for me with the GT guys,” said Montecalvo. “But I was in a solid position in GTA so I didn’t really want to mix it up with them. We had a good gap behind us and I wanted to play it safe. There were guys bumping and sliding. It was very good racing. It was fun to watch from my standpoint. It is good for me to race with those guys who have so much experience. It’s great to build off what you can learn from those guys. And use it next time when you really need it. It’s going to be a standing start tomorrow. And everyone knows what that brings. I’m glad we get to start up front up again.”
“Colin didn’t give me anything today,” said Udell. “Then he ended over cooking it a bit and that gave me some breathing room. We had a really good battle. We were side-by-side through turns four, five and six. We didn’t give anything to each other today. I have to give it to the guys from GMG Motorsports. They put a great car together for me today. I think it will be another great race in GT Cup on Sunday too.”
Of note, the Optima Best Standing Start Award went to Fuentes for gaining four positions when the lights went out to start the race. The Cadillac Move of the Race Award went to Guy Smith for his march up through the field to finish ninth overall. The MOMO GT Cup Turning Point of the Race was Udell’s pass into the lead over Thompson. The Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the race was awarded to Mike Skeen of Charlotte, N.C. in the No. 2 CRP Racing DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra for his pass of Fuentes on lap 18. Cadillac driver Pilgrim won the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining four positions during the race.
O’Connell had the fastest lap in GT and will start on pole for Sunday’s Round 17 race, while Montecalvo will also start of pole in GTA after securing the fastest lap in class during the race. Udell will start on pole in GT Cup for Sunday’s Round 14 race.
Results are provisional until posted final. GT, GTA and GT Cup drivers now get set for Round 17 and 15 on Sunday scheduled for 1:35 p.m. Mountain time. Watch live on world-challengetv.com and motortrendondemand.com. Live timing and scoring is available on worldchallenge.growsites.net.
TOOLE, UT – Results from Saturday’s 26-lap 79.248 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship GT/GTA Round 16, GT Cup Round 14 race, part of the Ford Grand Prix presented by VP Racing Fuels at Miller Motorsports Park, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. GT, (1), Johnny O’Connell, Flowery Branch, Ga., Cadillac ATS-VR GT3, 26.
2. GT, (2), JD Davison, St Petersburg, Fla., Nissan GT-R GT3, 26, -2.877.
3. GT, (3), Bryan Heitkotter, Fresno, Calif., Nissan GT-R GT3, 26, -7.451.
4. GT, (4), Nicky Catsburg, Kirchanschoring, Germany, Lamborghini GallardoFL2, 26, -10.076.
5. GT, (6), Ryan Dalziel, Windermere, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3R, 26, -15.024.
6. GT, (5), Michael Lewis(R), Laguna Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3R, 26, -15.563.
7. GT, (11), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Cadillac ATS-VR GT3, 26, -16.263.
8. GT, (7), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TLX-GT, 26, -16.733.
9. GT, (23), Guy Smith, Beverly UK, UK, Bentley Continental GT3, 26, -17.227.
10. GT, (8), (A)Frank Montecalvo, Highlands, N.J., Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3, 26, -17.908.
11. GT, (12), Ryan Eversley, Atlanta, Ga., Acura TLX-GT, 26, -20.833.
12. GT, (13), Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo, , Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 26, -22.442.
13. GT, (9), Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 26, -27.739.
14. GT, (14), (A)Martin Fuentes, Mexico City, Mexico, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 26, -30.169.
15. GT, (15), Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, Calif., Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 26, -35.949.
16. GT, (17), (A)Eric Lux, Buffalo, N.Y., Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3, 26, -37.248.
17. GT, (16), (A)Henrique Cisneros, Miami, Fla., Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 26, -48.137.
18. GT, (19), (A)Henry Hassid, Kirchanschoering, Germany, Lamborghini Gallardo REX, 26, -50.466.
19. GT, (24), (A)Eduardo Cisneros(R), Miami, Fla., Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 26, -55.863.
20. GT, (10), Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, N.Y., Bentley Continental GT3, 26, -1:04.950.
21. GT, (18), (A)Bret Curtis, Austin, Texas, BMW E89 Z4 GT3, 26, -1:22.775.
22. GT, (20), (A)Drew Regitz, Denver, Colo., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 5, -21 laps.
23. GT, (21), (A)Bill Ziegler, Ponte Vedra, Fla., BMW E89 Z4 GT3, 0, -26 laps.
24. GT, (22), (A)Jorge De La Torra, Mexico, , Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 0, DNS.
25. GT, (25), Robert Thorne, Littleton, Colo., McLaren 650S GT3, 0, DNS.
26. GT, (26), (A)Christina Nielsen(R), Aarhus Denmark, , Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 0, DNS.
27. GT, (27), Kevin Estre, Lochau Austria, , McLaren 650S GT3, 0, DNS.
28. GT, (28), James Sofronas, Pound Ridge, N.Y., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 0, DNS.
29. GT, (29), Brent Holden(A), Newport Beach, Calif., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 0, DNS.
30. GTC, (31), Alec Udell, The Woodlands, Texas, Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 25.
31. GTC, (30), Colin Thompson, Doylestown, Pa., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 25, -12.682.
32. GTC, (32), Sloan Urry, Salt Lake City, Utah, Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 25, -15.376.
33. GTC, (34), Mitch Landry, Lake Charles, La., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 25, -48.298.
34. GTC, (33), Phil Fogg_Jr, Allendale, N.J., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 24, -1 lap.
35. GTC, (35), Lorenzo Trefethen(R), Napa, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 23, -2 lap.
36. GTC, (36), Preston Calvert(R), Potomac, Md., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 19, -6 lap.
37. GTC, (37), Victor Gomez(R), San Juan, Puerto Rico, Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 6, -19 laps.
Time of race: 51 minutes, 03.272 seconds.
Average speed: 93.133 mph
Margin of victory: 2.877 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-26, #3 Johnny O’Connell
Fastest race lap: #3 Johnny O’Connell, 1:49.821 (99.915 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #3 Johnny O’Connell, 1:47.616 (101.962 mph)