Kevin Estre dominated proceedings at a wet and wild Circuit of the Americas to take victory in the second round of the Pirelli World Challenge.
The Frenchman delivered a master class in appalling conditions, guiding the #9 K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3 to a 30.344 second winning margin ahead of Ryan Dalziel in the #31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3R.
Despite starting fourth, Estre was quick to assert his authority over the rest of the field as he surged into the lead on the exit of the first turn. From then on, the race belonged to the 26 year old, who was the only driver capable of consistently lapping below the 2 minute 30 mark.
The humid Texan climate proved to be a challenge for many of the drivers, with Drew Regitz (#19 Audi R8 LMS ultra) prompting a full course caution following a spin. Race one winner Olivier Beretta was also caught out by the elements – the #61 R. Ferri Motorsports driver could only recover his team’s Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to eighth after rotating briefly.
With Estre stretching his legs at the front, Dalziel was left to comfortably finish as runner-up for the second race in a row, while pole sitter Nick Catsburg cast aside his race one disappointment to record his first Pirelli World Challenge podium, driving the #25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 F2.
Mike Skeen finished close behind in fourth place, driving the #2 CRP Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra, and could have finished in the top-three had Catsburg not performed a daring sweep around the outside in the closing stages. One of the stand out drives of the afternoon came courtesy of Ryan Eversley, who used the all-wheel drive nature of the #43 RealTime Acura TLX-GT to pick his way through the field from 25th on the grid to 5th at the finish.
Meanwhile, Cadillac Racing’s Johnny O’Connell couldn’t translate his dry weather form into a second consecutive podium, as the 2014 drivers’ champion faded in the second half of the race to bring the #3 Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 home in seventh overall.
In GTA, Michael Lewis once again took the spoils, finishing ninth overall in the #41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3R. The class podium was completed by Venezuelan Henrique Cisneros (#30 MOMO Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) and Denmark’s Christina Nielsen (#7 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3).
Colin Thompson recorded yet another crushing victory in the CT Cup category to complete a near perfect weekend. The 21 year old from Pennsylvania finished 6.997 seconds ahead of Sloan Urry in his #11 Porsche 911 GT3 CUP to extend his lead in the drivers’ standings.
Thompson’s commanding performance was made all the more impressive by the fact that he outraced both Bentley Team Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3s, driven by Chris Dyson and Butch Leitzinger, as well as Andy Pilgrim in the second Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3.
The unofficial result means that Estre will leave Austin atop the Pirelli World Challenge drivers’ standings, ahead of double podium finisher Dalziel and race one winner Beretta.
The next two rounds of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge will take place at St. Petersburg on March 28-29.