Tooele, UT – A day after an oil fire left the No. 77 Porsche GT3R in ruins at Utah Motorsports Campus, Calvert Dynamics took the overall victory in Pirelli World Challenge’s SprintX race on Saturday afternoon, with Michael Lewis executing a last-lap pass after a charge in the late stages of the race after taking over from Preston Calvert. A day later, Calvert took over from Lewis and scored the win, as the Phoenix Performance prepped team swept the SprintX weekend in Utah after a devastating fire on Friday sidelined the team’s entry for Andrew Davis and Calvert.
Coming off his debut in Pirelli World Challenge’s GTA class, Calvert was set to team with Andrew Davis for their debut in the SprintX class, which features a pro/am driver combination, 60-minute races and a required driver change. At the same time, Calvert was planning to run the GTA races and the team was preparing a second car, as usual, for Michael Lewis who was hoping to build on his Mid-Ohio results after a mid-season switch to the Calvert Dynamics team.
The story would change on Friday when an oil fire saw Davis scramble from a burning Porsche. While Davis tried to put the fire out and was without injury, it rendered the car out of commission for the weekend, and brought the potential Calvert would not race at all.
“It was such an emotional weekend for our Calvert Dynamics squad. All started as planned, as we were working through set up plans in the No. 76 Porsche GT3-R. The car was feeling good, and I was very optimistic about our chances to win the upcoming SprintX races,” said Davis.
“Unfortunately, during the second Sprint X practice session we suffered a massive fire that caused serious damage to the car. I had no warnings from inside the car before the fire erupted, and I did everything in my power to get the car to a location where I could get some help. It was such a helpless feeling as I waited for help to arrive.”
Calvert said: “Our weekend plans turned upside down, when our friend and co-driver Andrew Davis barely escaped serious injury when a catastrophic oil fire destroyed the Porsche GT3-R during a SprintX practice session. The source of the oil that caused the fire is still being investigated by Porsche engineers, but the car sustained such extensive fire damage that it will require replacement. We were mainly relieved that Andrew Davis was uninjured, but we were all also just devastated by the loss of our primary team GTA car.”
That changed with an offer later in the day, as Lewis and his car owner suggested the young racer pair with Calvert and take on the SprintX challenge on short notice.
Calvert started the race, challenging for the lead in turn one, and handed over the Porsche to Lewis during the required pit window. Lewis would strap in and waste no time, charging on the race-leading Porsche and without any time left, taking over the race lead on the last lap to win the third SprintX round of the 2016 season.
“On Saturday, I had a good start, but recoiled from possible contact during a three-car wide situation in Turn 1, and ended up in fifth position by Turn 2,” Calvert continued. “Over the next several laps, I was able to catch up and make passes to sit in P3 at the driver change pit stop. When Michael was able to pass Kuno on the last lap to take the win, we were speechless in the pit box at this result of his determination and excellent race craft. The experience of winning my first pro race was truly memorable, and gratifying after the previous day’s events. Its effect on our team morale was palpable.”
A day later, the format would change, with Lewis starting the race and Calvert taking over the race-leading car mid-way through the afternoon race. It would be a flawless drive from Calvert, who managed the car, tires and race lead to score his second victory in two days.
“Michael had set fast lap in our first SprintX race as well, so he started that second race on pole as well, and jumped out to a commanding lead before the driver change stop. I had some trouble with one of the belts on the stop, and managed to give up much of the time advantage he had achieved. However, I was able to hold off Michael Mills and Dion Von Moltke in a BMW and Audi respectively, for the second win,” Calvert said.
In the GT class, Lewis finished down the order in race one with a spin putting him two laps down – but setting the race’s fast lap meant pole for race two, and coming home in fourth place at the 3.048-mile circuit on a surprisingly busy weekend for the Laguna Beach-based driver.
“It was an emotional weekend for the Calvert Dynamics team. Everyone banded together and adapted amazingly well to situations that were thrown at us during the weekend. At the end of it, we scored a fourth place in the GT Race 2 with a pole for that race as well, and two victories in both SprintX races,” said Lewis. “After GT Race 1 and its qualifying not going the way we wanted, we stayed calm and focused on the remaining parts of the weekend. My teammate Preston Calvert drove extremely well in both Sprint X races to help our team get those victories. There were tears of joy from the crew after those wins. It was a pleasure to race with Preston, last minute, and to score a fourth in the GT race for everyone who put their sweat and tears into this program.”
Davis, while disappointed about missing his SprintX debut, said he was happy to see the team succeed in Utah in such a dominant fashion.
Calvert said he hopes to have continued success at the next SprintX rounds at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October.