Three Porsche drivers either won their class or finished second in the opening two GT/GTA rounds of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge series at the Circuit of the Americas facility as 13 manufacturers showed their best on the Formula 1 race track near the Texas capital.
Round Number 1 – GT/GTA/GT Cup (Saturday)
In the first 50-minute race on Saturday, Ryan Dalziel (Winter Park, Florida), in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, qualified fourth in the GT class, but moved to second with a great standing start, chasing the Lamborghini of Nicky Catsburg (NL). Soon after, the Dutchman received a drive-through penalty for a white line violation and Dalziel moved into the lead and kept it for the next 20 laps, hotly pursued by Olivier Beretta (It) in the Ferrari 458 Italia. The Porsche was able to hold off the Ferrari until the white-flag lap, but Dalziel had used up his tyres in the battle, and the Ferrari got by for the win.
In the GTA class on Saturday, the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT R driven by Michael Lewis (Laguna Beach, California) also spent most of the race leading his class, and was able to outlast the Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 of Frankie Montecalvo (Highlands, New Jersey) to not only secure the class win, but to finish fifth overall. This was a remarkable start for Lewis, who was awarded the EFFORT Racing/Porsche Young Driver Program scholarship this season, and was running his first World Challenge race and his first race in a 911 GT3 R.
In the first-ever GT Cup class as part of the Saturday GT event, a group of familiar names took the top spots in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racecars. Colin Thompson (Doylestown, Pennsylvania), the reigning Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA champion, took his 2015 Bucks County Porsche prepared by Kelly-Moss Motorsport from flag-to-flag to win that class, while TruSpeed Autosport Porsche driver Sloan Urry (Park City, Utah) was second. Both Thompson and Urry were participants in the Porsche Young Drivers Academy at Barber Motorsports Park in late 2014. Third was 19 year-old Alec Udell (The Woodlands, Texas), now in his fourth year of Pirelli World Challenge racing, in the GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Round Number 2 –GT/GTA/GT Cup (Sunday)
As successful a day Saturday was for the Porsche entries, Sunday’s race brought more of the same. Dalziel got off to another good start in a driving rain storm from his third-place position, but Kevin Estre (Aus) seemed to have the best set-up in his McLaren 650S GT3, and ran away with the race, winning by more than 30 seconds. Dalziel’s Porsche was second by four seconds, ahead of Catsburg in the Lamborghini. In the GT point standings, Estre leads Dalziel by five points (unofficially), 229 – 224.
In GTA and GT Cup, Michael Lewis and Colin Thompson repeated their Saturday victories, with both of them taking a commanding lead in their class point championship. In fact, in GT Cup, positions one, two and three were the same as Saturday’s results.
Ryan Dalziel, No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We did not know what kind of pace we would have for the first race, and how that would compare to the rest of the field. But I had a good start, and I found I could run in the top three. When the Lamborghini got the penalty, I felt comfortable in the lead, but I used up my tires too much in the early part of the race, and I had no grip left when I needed it to chase down the Ferrari in the end. On Sunday, Estre was in a class by himself, but I feel like we were the best of the rest. I felt pretty comfortable in second. All credit to Pirelli World Challenge for not throwing any yellows when there were a couple of guys spinning off. It was a great race and hopefully a couple of races that everyone enjoyed.”
Michael Lewis, No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: “This was a great experience, and I have to give credit to the experienced guys from EFFORT Racing, crew chief Stefan Pfeiffer and teammate Ryan Dalziel, for talking me through the entire experience, from traffic to the standing start. They told me to be patient, keep my eyes open, and figure out in my head where I would go if something happened in front of me. The experience I had driving Porsche GT3 Cup here last fall helped me with using the whole track. I felt comfortable running in the multi-class format. For Sunday, a big thanks to the team for setting me up with a pretty solid car in the rain. It was a really hard fight with some of those GTA guys and pro guys out there. We eventually got into the class lead at the end with a good fight with the Perez Ferrari down the back straight. It was really fun to race with the pro guys who were around P8 and P9 overall.”
Colin Thompson, No. 11 Kelly-Moss Porsche 911 GT3 Cup: “I had a really good launch in my first-ever standing start on Saturday, and I was able to get by some of the GT-A cars, putting distance between me and the other GT2 contenders. I managed my tires, and was able to stay clean in traffic. Sunday’s conditions were horrible. It was so unbelievably wet to start and then it started raining 15 minutes in. It went crazy. We couldn’t see anything going into the brake zones if you were remotely close to another car. You had to rely on your other senses, feeling the bumps in the road when a braking zone was coming up and things like that. Eventually, I had a comfortable enough lead and I was able to win by a good margin. The conditions were really similar to my last GT3 Cup Challenge race at Road Atlanta last year. You can’t help but let it continue to build your confidence, but the next race is a totally different circuit and we have to stay humble and work just as hard.”
Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA Results – Race 1 (Saturday)
1. Oliver Beretta, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, 23 laps
2. Ryan Dalziel, Winter Park, Florida, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 23 laps
3. Johnny O’Connell, Flowery Branch, Georgia, Cadillac ATS-VR GT3, 23 laps
4. Kevin Estre, Locmau, Austria, McLaren 650S GT3, 23 laps
5. Michael Lewis, Laguna Beach, California, Porsche 911 GT3 R (winner, GTA class) – 23 laps
6. J.D. Davison, St. Petersburg, Florida, Nissan GT-R GT3 – 23 laps
Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA Results – Race #2 (Sunday)
1. Kevin Estre, Locmau, Austria, McLaren 650S GT3, 18 laps
2. Ryan Dalziel, Winter Park, Florida, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 18 laps
3. Nick Catsburg, Voorthuizen, The Netherlands, Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2, 18 laps
4. Mike Skeen, Charlotte, North Carolina, Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 18 laps
5. Ryan Eversley, Atlanta, Georgia, Acura TLX-GT, 18 laps
6. Madison Snow, Lehi, Utah, Audi R8 LMS Ultra, 18 laps
9. Michael Lewis, Laguna Beach, California, Porsche 911 GT3 R (winner, GTA class) – 18 laps
Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup by MOMO Results – Race #1 (Saturday) – all Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
1. Colin Thompson, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 22 laps
2. Sloan Urry, Park City, Utah, 22 laps
3. Alec Udell, The Woodlands, Texas, 22 laps
Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup by MOMO Results – Race #2 (Sunday) – all Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
1. Colin Thompson, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 18 laps
2. Sloan Urry, Park City, Utah, 18 laps
3. Alec Udell, The Woodlands, Texas, 18 laps