BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga. led from the drop of the flag in his No. 3 Cadillac Racing, Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 to take the GT Round 8 win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif. took the GTA win, with Colin Thompson from Doylestown, Pa. claiming another victory today in the GT Cup presented by MOMO class. GT/GTA and GT Cup Round 8, part of the Remo Ferri Group Canadian Grand Prix presented by Replay XD event at CTMP was held under cloudy 68 degree weather conditions.
After qualifying on pole and setting a new track record in the process on Friday, O’Connell held the lead off of the rolling start as the outside pole starter Olivier Beretta from Monte Carlo, Monaco driving his No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia ran wide. This allowed the No. 9 of Kevin Estre, of Locmau, Austria, driving the Pfaff Automotive McLaren of Toronto K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 to get by for second as the field exited turn one.
A bit further back the No. 16 of Chris Dyson, from Pleasant Valley, N.Y. in his Dyson Racing Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1, Team Bentley Continental GT3 locked up pushing the No. 6 of Robert Thorne wide in his K-PAX Racing Pfaff Automotive McLaren of Toronto McLaren 650S GT3 dropping Thorne to sixth.
The 12-car GTA field took the rolling start and was clean through the early part of the lap with pole sitter Frank Montecalvo, from Highlands, N.J. in the No. 66 DragonSpeed/Bayshore Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 in first. As the field made its way out of the turn 5a/b complex, Dan Knox from Pilot Point, Texas turned his No. 80 Lone Star Racing ACS MFG Dodge Viper GT3-R sideways. Behind Knox, a number of other GTA competitors were forced to avoid hitting Knox. Tim Pappas of Boston, Mass. in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R contacted with Knox and the damage resulted in a full-course caution and the retirement of the No. 54 car.
The eight-car Porsche GT Cup field was paced by Thompson in the No. 11 Porsche of Bucks County/PenVal Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, with Sloan Urry from Salt Lake City, Utah aboard the No. 02 Engel & Voelkers Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in second, and Lorenzo Trefethen, from Napa, Calif. in the No 13 ANSA Trefethen Family Vineyards Porsche 911 GT Cup car third. Fourth was the No. 18 of Phil Fogg Jr. from Portland, Ore. in the Truspeed Zoro Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
At the yellow it was O’Connell, Estre, the No. 20 of Butch Leitzinger from Rebersburg, Pa. in his Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1, Team Dyson Racing, Bentley Continental GT3, followed by Beretta, Dyson and Thorne. After the clean up, the race resumed on lap 7. On the restart Thorne got around Dyson and Beretta to move into 4th. As they completed lap eight it was O’Connell, Estre, Leitzinger, Thorne and Beretta with Dyson dropping to sixth.
The order for the GTA restart was Montecalvo in first, followed by Heitkotter in the No. 05 AIM Autosport Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R GT3, No. 30 Henrique Cisneros from Miami, Fla. in the NGT MOMO Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, Christina Nielsen from Aarhus, Denmark in the No. 7 TRG-AMR Royal Purple/Orion/La Salle Solutions/PassTime USA Aston Martin Vantage GT3, and Martin Fuentes in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Hublot/Samsung Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia in fifth. Once restarted the No. 08 of Erik Lux from Buffalo, N.Y. in the DragonSpeed Rembrandt Charms/Monticello MC Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 took advantage of the tight field to make a pass on Nielsen in turn 10 for fifth position.
In GT Cup the four leading cars would take the green and after the early incident/restart would move well ahead of the rest of the eight-car class field and battle for the podium throughout the race. The top two of Thompson and Urry moved into a battle of their own with Trefethen and Fogg working hard to claim the last spot on the podium.
Lap 10 and the top three in GT pulled a two-second gap over Thorne in fourth. By lap 15 there were two packs of three leading the way with O’Connell, Estre, Leitzinger with Thorne, Beretta, and Dyson following three seconds back. Over the next two laps Estre closed up on O’Connell as Leitzinger dropped back. After putting on the pressure, Dyson got by Beretta in turn 9 to take over fifth earning him the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award. In GTA, Montecalvo had a large wiggle in turn three that took him off line and off the pace briefly. This allowed Heitkotter to take advantage of the situation and he moved into the GTA lead. An extended period of green flag racing took place where the field was able to stretch out.
Lap 20 gave O’Connell his biggest threat as he came down the turn four hill. The No. 77 GT Cup car of Preston Calvert from Potomac Md. in his Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Porsche 911 GT3 Cup spun directly in front of him making hard contact in the outside tire wall with O’Connell barely sneaking by. The yellow flag was waived at this point for contact in turn four that took extended time to address as tire barriers were moved during the incident.
After the extended caution, Race Control called for a green/white restart, with the GT front runners immediately going four wide as they entered turn one. Leitzinger got under Estre briefly taking over second. The two banged doors as they entered turn four with Estre moving back into second. Just behind, the No. 2 of Mike Skeen from Charlotte, N.C. and his DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance, CRP Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra went side by side with Thorne for fifth in turn 5a/b getting the job done dropping Thorne to sixth at the flag. In the end in GT it was O’Connell, Estre, and Leitzinger followed by Dyson and Skeen. In GTA, it was Heitkotter, over Montecalvo, Cisneros, Fuentes, and Lux. The GT Cup field finished the race with the top five of Thompson, Urry, Trefethen, Fogg, and Landry.
“It was nice being able to start from pole,” said Thompson. “The team at Kelly-Moss gave me the platform to win another race. It feels good and we keep pushing the Porsche of Bucks County car with the goal to win tomorrow.”
“My race was really good,” said Heitkotter. “I gained a few positions on the first lap and just settled into a groove. The team at AIM Autosport has done a fantastic job to develop the car. We started so late and every race is a test session for us. We continue to learn and the car was awesome today. Thank you to the team and to everyone at Nissan for trusting me with this great opportunity. This is huge for me and its nice to give back this reward to everyone.”
“Today was great win for so many reasons,” said O’Connell. “We had such little time to get the new car ready for this race and it has been almost a year since I actually won a race. And this one is really cool because its the 55th time I have been able to win for GM. It tells you how old I am! Seriously, to have Gary Pratt here who has taken care of me with great race cars. I have been around the world with great race cars to perform in and that is awesome. And to get it here at Mosport. Everyone knows I have a brotherhood with Ron Fellows and so for it to happen here is special.”
“When you race at this level it is a science experiment,” added O’Connell. “It’s where engineers learn and you improve the breed. We had the big fire at Barber but then that’s when the team at GM comes together. We had a test mule car that was being used as a show car. Once it was clear that the other car was “toast” they went to work to get this other car prepped. There were some updates that needed to get done and the team went to work to get them done. You know the driver is just the quarterback…but the team is that group of special guys who made this happen. A lot of hours were put in to make this happen. If you can reward them with this type of win it makes the guys feel that when they dig deep we can do things like today. The first time I raced here was in 1988 in a 24-hour showroom stock race and ever since I have felt that this place is magical. The way you float the car through one and two is great. And it rewards softness with the controls. After winning here before I now know what it takes to win here and we found that combination today.”
Of note, Fogg Jr. was awarded the Optima Batteries Best Start for gaining six positions on the start. Fogg Jr. also gained eight positions overall in the race and earned the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for the most positions gained during the race. O’Connell was awarded the Cadillac Move of the Race Award for avoiding the No. 77 car of Calvert in Turn 4. The MOMO GT Cup Turning Point of the Race was the 77 car into the wall at Turn 4.
With the fastest lap in GT, O’Connell will be on pole for Sunday’s Round 9 race (1:17.237). Heitkotter will be on GTA pole after a fast lap of 1:17.861 and Thompson will be on GT Cup presented by MOMO pole after a fast lap of 1:20.970.
Results are provisional until posted final. Round 9 of the GT/GTA/GT Cup Championship is scheduled for 2:50 p.m. EDT Sunday. Watch live streaming of the race at world-challengetv.com or torque.tv.
BOWMANVILLE, ON – Results from Saturday’s 25-lap 61.475 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship PWC GT/GTA/GT Cup Round 08 race, part of the Remo Ferri Group GP prsntd by ReplayXD at CTMP, 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, 25.
2. GT, (4), Kevin Estre, Lochau Austria, , McLaren 650S GT3, 25, -.392.
3. GT, (3), Butch Leitzinger, Rebersburg, Pa., Bentley Continental GT3, 25, -1.039.
4. GT, (5), Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, N.Y., Bentley Continental GT3, 25, -1.571.
5. GT, (10), Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 25, -2.706.
6. GT, (6), Robert Thorne, Littleton, Colo., McLaren 650S GT3, 25, -3.412.
7. GT, (2), Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo, , Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 25, -4.057.
8. GT, (9), Michael Lewis(R), Laguna Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3R, 25, -4.199.
9. GT, (11), JD Davison, St Petersburg, Fla., Nissan GT-R GT3, 25, -4.507.
10. GT, (12), Bryan Heitkotter(A), Fresno, Calif., Nissan GT-R GT3, 25, -5.042.
11. GT, (14), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TLX-GT, 25, -5.428.
12. GT, (7), Frank Montecalvo(A), Highlands, N.J., Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3, 25, -5.774.
13. GT, (13), Ryan Dalziel, Windermere, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3R, 25, -6.129.
14. GT, (15), Henrique Cisneros(A), Miami, Fla., Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 25, -6.487.
15. GT, (17), Ryan Eversley, Atlanta, Ga., Acura TLX-GT, 25, -6.744.
16. GT, (16), Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, Calif., Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 25, -7.144.
17. GT, (18), Martin Fuentes(A), Mexico City, MX, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 25, -7.867.
18. GT, (19), Eric Lux(A), Buffalo, N.Y., Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3, 25, -8.074.
19. GT, (20), Christina Nielsen(R)(A), Aarhus Denmark, , Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 25, -8.715.
20. GT, (22), Dan Knox(A), Pilot Point, Texas, Dodge Viper GT3-R, 25, -10.264.
21. GT, (28), Drew Regitz(A), Denver, Colo., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 25, -10.601.
22. GT, (24), Bret Curtis(A), Austin, Texas, BMW E89 Z4 GT3, 25, -12.253.
23. GT, (27), Bill Ziegler(A), Ponte Vedra, Fla., BMW E89 Z4 GT3, 25, -12.572.
24. GT, (23), Henrik Hedman(A), Ft Lauderdale, Fla., MercedesBenzAMG SLS GT3, 13, Mech.
25. GT, (8), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Cadillac ATS-VR GT3, 1, Mech.
26. GT, (21), Timothy Pappas(A), Boston, Mass., Dodge Viper GT3R, 0, Crash.
27. GT, (25), Marc Muzzo, Toronto, Canada, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 0, Crash.
28. GT, (26), Jeff Courtney(A), Milwaukee, Wis., Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 0, Crash.
29. GT, (29), Mike Hedlund, Woodside, Calif., Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 0, DNS.
30. GTC, (30), Colin Thompson, Doylestown, Pa., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 25.
31. GTC, (31), Sloan Urry, Salt Lake City, Utah, Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 25, -.521.
32. GTC, (32), Lorenzo Trefethen(R), Napa, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 25, -1.535.
33. GTC, (36), Phil Fogg_Jr, Portland, Ore., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 25, -3.069.
34. GTC, (34), Mitch Landry, Lake Charles, La., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 24, -1:21.570.
35. GTC, (33), Eduardo Cisneros(R), Miami, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 24, -1 lap.
36. GTC, (37), Victor Gomez(R), San Juan, Puerto Rico, Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 24, -1 lap.
37. GTC, (35), Preston Calvert(R), Potomac, Md., Porsche 911 GT3 CUP, 17, Crash.
Time of race: 50 minutes, 28.419 seconds.
Average speed: 73.077 mph
Margin of victory: .392 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-25, #3 Johnny O’Connell
Fastest race lap: #3 Johnny O’Connell, 1:17.237 (114.613 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #3 Johnny O’Connell, 1:15.296 (117.568 mph)