PWC: We catch up on the Pirelli World Challenge



The Pirelli World Challenge has had a tough year. Jim Fonseca was at Long Beach and we catch up with the season with a gallery of his photos

Round 1 – COTA

Austin, TX – Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 took the Pirelli World Challenge Round No. 2 win at the Circuit of The Americas, Nissan Grand Prix of Texas brought to you by Motul. Estre’s win also was the first global win for the new McLaren 650S.

Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, CA, in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3R took his second win in a row in GTA. In GT Cup, presented by MOMO, Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, PA, in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Constructors/Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes/Austin Hatcher Foundation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup recorded his second win in a row.

“The car worked well when we tested two weeks ago here. We had some runs in the rain and this morning on the warm-up was really good. I had a clean start and a good pass on the outside. I am really happy, thanks to K-PAX and Flying Lizard, they gave me a really nice McLaren GT 650S car.”

Kevin Estre


Round 2 – St Petersburg

St. Petersburg, FL – Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, won the Round 4 GT race on the Streets of St. Petersburg, as part of the Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Frank Montecalvo, of Highlands, NJ won in GTA, while Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, PA, won in the GT Cup presented by MOMO class.
On Lap 20 Beretta led by 1.7 seconds over Catsburg, with Estre and Dalziel in third and fourth. Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, GA, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 had moved up to fifth after the incident between Skeen and Davison.
“I had a fantastic start. The Ferrari was a great car today and I really enjoy the street race game. Really good result for me and the team. I enjoy the St. Pete sprint race format and all that goes with this type of racing here in Pirelli World Challenge.”
Oliver Beretta


Round 3 – Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Olivier Beretta of Monte Carlo won the Round 5 GT Streets of Long Beach race, at the Pirelli World Challenge ‘Roar by the Shore’ presented by Replay XD, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, CA won in GTA, while Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, PA won in the GT Cup presented by MOMO class. For Beretta, it is his third win of the 2015 season. Lewis and Thompson each scored their fourth wins of the season.

From the standing start, pole-sitter Beretta, in the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia took the lead into turn 1. Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, GA, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V R GT3, who started third, passed second-on-the-grid Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3. Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, FL, who started fourth in the EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R tucked in behind coming out of turn 1. Lewis, in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3R led in GTA.

On lap 20 another full-course yellow was issued for an incident with multiple cars at turn 11. On the restart, Dyson got a great jump and passed Dalziel to take over second through turn 1. Dyson earned the Cadillac ATS-VR Move of the Race for the move. Lewis jumped up to fourth overall on the restart.

As the checkers flew, Beretta won over Dyson in second, and Dalziel third. Lewis won over Fuentes, with Erix Lux, of Buffalo, NY, in the No. 08 Rembrandt Charms/Monticello Motor Club DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 in third. Lux won the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award for gaining four positions off of the start.

“It was difficult because each time you went under yellow, you had to restart everything. Each time on the restart, it is a challenge. I’m happy with the result, I just feel sorry for Johnny (O’Connell) — we went three wide into the corner and there was contact. I am sorry for him — I don’t think it was my mistake, it was just that on a street race right there, we could not be three wide. This is a very good series, a very good championship. I have a very good team, they work very hard to give me this car. It is good for Ferrari. This is the last year for this 458 Italia, so we need to win the most that we can.”

Oliver Beretta


Round 4 – Barber Motorsports Park

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, driving the No. 9 K-PAX McLaren 650S GT3 claimed victory today in the GT class Round 7 race at the MOMO Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park presented by Porsche, part of the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama weekend. It is Estre’s and McLaren’s second win in Pirelli World Challenge this season. The GTA win went to Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif., in the No. 05 Nissan GT Academy / Always Evolving / ReplayXD Nissan GT-R GT3. In GT-Cup presented by MOMO, Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, Pa., piloting the No. 11 Porsche of Bucks County / PenVal Porsche 911 GT3 CUP scored his second win of the weekend.

The 40-car field took to the 2.38-mile, 15-turn road course in sunny Birmingham with a race-time temperature of 77 degrees. From the standing start, pole sitter Robert Thorne, of Littleton, Colo., in the No. 6 K-PAX McLaren 650S GT3 led the field in lap one with Estre second, followed by Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, Fla., in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R in third, Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, with his No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari Ontario-Toronto-Alberta fourth, and Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 2 CRP Racing DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra in fifth.

Estre was able to take a 4.271 differential to the checkered. Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, Calif., took sixth place in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3R. It’s Estre’s second victory in the series with his earlier win coming at Circuit of the Americas in Round 2. In GTA, Heitkotter scored his first career Pirelli World Challenge win and second consecutive win for Nissan on the weekend (teammate JD Davison scored the Saturday Round 6 victory in GT). Thompson won his sixth GT Cup presented by MOMO race of the 2015 season, with a 2.959 differential over Udell, and a 4.387 differential over Urry.

“So at first we got a good start, the first really good start of the season. We were to P2 before the first yellow flag. Robert (Thorne) and I were able to pull a gap from Dalziel on the next restart. Robert was faster at some parts and I was faster in other parts of the track. This track is not very easy to pass at and I didn’t want to make any mistakes. The only team order we have is no contact, or we’ll kill you. That was the deal. Finally I was able to brake later into Turn 5. He was clever enough not to turn. I saw Johnny’s car, really sorry for him. I had another great restart, pulled a gap of two seconds and just managed it. K-PAX Flying Lizard is a great team.  We are back in the game now with some great points, and the other guys scored less. Really happy for the team. It’s been a tough two weeks but we are pleased to win.”

Kevin Estre



Photos by Jim Fonseca

Words by PWC PR

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