DETROIT, Mich. – The Pirelli World Challenge’s GT and GTA drivers head to the Motor City for a showdown on the streets of Detroit and Belle Isle. Twenty-eight drivers will compete in the Cadillac V-Series Challenge presented by the Metro Detroit Cadillac dealers, part of the Detroit/Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend, May 29-31. Drivers will compete in Rounds 10 and 11 of the GT/GTA championships.
This visit marks the fourth consecutive season Pirelli World Challenge will race at Belle Isle.
Pirelli World Challenge GT: Beretta Leads in Drivers’ Championship. Can O’Connell Continue His Win Streak to Close the Gap?
Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, Monaco in the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, comes into this weekend continuing to lead in GT drivers’ points (799) after scoring a 7th and 8th at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). Beretta has prior experience at Belle Isle having raced at the circuit in another sports car series.
He holds a 15-point lead over Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, Fla., who because of prior commitments in Le Mans will not be competing at Belle Isle. Renger van der Zande, of Nijmegen, The Netherlands will be behind the wheel of the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3 R. Van der Zande will be making his first career start at Belle Isle. He’ll be teamed with Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, Calif., who sits 7th overall in the standings. Lewis will drive the No. 41 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., comes into the Detroit weekend on a roll having recorded back-to-back wins at CTMP in his No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. O’Connell’s two wins were pivotal in that they put the defending GT drivers champion back into the fight for the 2015 title. And there’s no better event for O’Connell to be coming into to keep the win streak alive than Detroit. O’Connell has scored five Detroit GT wins since 2012 including back-to-back wins in 2014. O’Connell enters the Detroit weekend fourth in points with 716. O’Connell’s teammate, Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, sits 16th overall in GT.
Ryan Eversley, of Atlanta, Ga. in the No. 43 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT enters the weekend 5th in points, and will make his first career start at Detroit.
After a dominating win in Round 7 at Barber, Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, enters the weekend third in points in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, with 729. Estre will be making his first Detroit series start, and looks to score his third win of the season.
Their respective teammates, Robert Thorne, of Littleton, Col. in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 and Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis. in the No. 42 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT, look for continued positive season results at Detroit. Thorne finished second to Estre in Round 7 at Barber, while Cunningham had a season best 8th in Round 6 at Barber. Of note, Cunningham won at Detroit back in 2001 behind the wheel of the RealTime Acura NSX.
Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 2 DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS ultra comes off another respectable weekend with 5th and 4th place finishes at CTMP. Skeen sits 6th in the championship.
JD Davison, of St. Petersburg, Fla., in the No. 33 AE/Replay XD Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 sits 9th overall in the GT Championship coming into Detroit after scoring a 9th and 20th at CTMP. Davison will start his second career race at Detroit.
Bentley Team Dyson Racing heads into Detroit with Butch Leitzinger, of Rebersburg, Pa. piloting the No. 20 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Bentley Continental GT3 and Chris Dyson, of Pleasant Valley, N.Y. behind the wheel of the No. 16 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Bentley Continental GT3 – both Leitzinger and Dyson had very respectable CTMP weekends with Leitzinger scoring a 3rd and a 2nd and Dyson a 4th and a 3rd.
The 16-driver GT field is rounded out by series veteran James Sofronas, of Pound Ridge, N.Y., in the No. 14 GMG Audi R8 LMS ultra GMG Racing/Spyder/Mobil 1, Duncan Ende, of Los Angeles, Calif. in the No. 64 Merchant Services Ltd./Linospresso USA Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 and Nicky Catsburg, of Voorthuizen, Netherlands, in the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL. Ende will make his third career PWC start at Belle Isle, while Catsburg makes his first career Belle Isle start. Sofronas will make his 7th career PWC start at Belle Isle.
Pirelli World Challenge GTA: Cisneros Leads Montecalvo and Fuentes
Henrique Cisneros, of Miami, in the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 enters Detroit in first place in class with one second and four third-place finishes in his last six races. He enters the weekend with 797 GTA points. Cisneros has previous experience at Belle Isle in another sports car series.
Frankie Montecalvo, of Highlands, N.J. enters the Detroit weekend a scant one point behind Cisneros (796). Montecalvo won Round 4 at St. Petersburg in the No. 66 Bayshore Racing DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. He comes off a CTMP weekend where he finished second and third.
Mexican driver Martin Fuentes, of Mexico City, in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 comes into the weekend third in class points only three points behind the leader with 794. Fuentes won the Round 6 race at Barber.
Montecalvo’s DragonSpeed teammate Eric Lux, of Buffalo, N.Y. finished third in Round 5 at Long Beach in the No. 08 Rembrandt Charms/Monticello Motor Club Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. Lux comes into the weekend 5th in class.
Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif., comes into Detroit with a ton of momentum having scored three straight GTA wins – back-to-back at CTMP after having scored his first career Pirelli World Challenge win in Round 7 at Barber. He will be in the No. 05 Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. He comes into the weekend 4th in drivers’ standings.
Christina Nielsen, of Aarhus, Denmark, will drive the No. 7 Orion/Royal Purple/LaSalle Solutions/PassTime USA Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. She’ll make her track debut this coming weekend.
Turner Motorsport’s Bret Curtis, of Austin, TX, and Bill Ziegler, of Ponte Vedra, Fla. will be in the No. 32 Spectra Resources/United Steel Supply BMW E89 Z4 GT3, and the No. 95 Swisher Racing BMW E89 Z4 GT3 respectively. Curtis sits 7th in the GTA drivers championship, while Ziegler sits 14th.
Two Audis are entered in GTA for Detroit. Drew Regitz, of Denver, will be in the No. 19 WWW.IRACERCOACHING.COM Audi R8 LMS ultra, while David Welch of Napa, CA, will pilot the No. 21 Numerix/Universal Industrial Sales/GMG/Audi Sports Customer Racing GMG Audi R8 LMS ultra.
Both Tim Pappas, of Boston, Mass. in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R and Dan Knox, of Pilot Point, Texas in the No. 80 ACS Manufacturing/Lone Star Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R, look for positive results at Detroit. Pappas’s best results were back-to-back thirds in Rounds 6 and 7 at Barber – he sits 11th in GTA, while Knox sits 9th overall in the championship.
Detroit/Belle Isle, 13-turn, 2.3-mile Temporary Street Course
Saturday, May 30, 7:30-8 a.m.
Television (on CBS Sports Network):
LIVE – Sunday, May 31, 12 noon
All times listed above Eastern. Times subject to change