From pole, JD Davison, driver of the #33 Nissan GT-R GT3, scored his first race in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class on Saturday afternoon’s race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL.
The GTA win went to Martin Fuentes and the #07 Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, whilst the winner in GT Cup was Colin Thompson, in his #11 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Starting from a rolling start, Davison took the lead from the start and was closely followed by Nicky Catsburg in the #25 Lamborghini Galladro R_EX. Behind them was Mike Skeen and the #2 Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
Five laps into the race, the order in the GT class was Davison, Catsburg, Skeen, Michael Lewis (#41 Porsche 911 GT3R) and Olivier Beretta (#61 Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia).
In the GTA class, for more inexperienced drivers, Frank Montecalvo led in the #66 Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 over Henrique Cisneros (#30 Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia).
GT Cup was led by eventual winner Thompson with Alec Udell (#17 Porsche 911 GT3 CUP) and Sloan Urry (#02 Porsche 911 GT3 CUP) following him. By lap four, Udell was leading, with Thompson and Urry behind.
On lap 9, Christina Nielsen, driver of the #7 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, collided with Henrik Hedman‘s #10 Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3. Both were able to restart the race, but a caution was called for five laps.
Restarting on lap 15, Davison once again took the lead with Catsburg behind. Beretta passed Lewis for P4, and Ryan Dalziel in the #31 Porsche 911 GT3 passed Lewis and moved into 5th. At this stage in GTA, Tim Pappas and the #54 Dodge Viper GT3R took the lead ahead of Fuentes and Cisneros. Finally, in GT Cup, Udell mainted his lead over Thompson and Lorenzo Trefethen (#13 Porsche 911 GT3 CUP).
Of note is Johnny O’Connell, who had an engine change in his #3 Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 and so started 27th. However, by this stage in the race, he had moved up to 4th.
A late race spin brought out another caution, and so the race finished in a green-white-checkered format. Davison held off Catsburg, with the top five in GT standing at: Davison, Catsburg, Skeen, O’Connell and Dalziel. In GTA, Fuentes won, ahead of Cisneros and Pappas. In the GT Cup class, Thompson led Udell and Urry.
“I was very fortunate to put it on pole for this race again. I thought I could gap it and roll away with it,” said Thompson. “Then of course cautions came out, working through traffic. I was trying to find the places where I was stronger than him (Udell) to time my pass. That last complex, I got a good run to him, he made it difficult to pass so I had to be creative. Outside of 16 rolling to inside of 17 was the best way to get it done.”
“It feels great. It feels amazing,” said Fuentes. “Being in this category, not knowing the track, the car was great. It was a complicated race. I started way back there. I was able to get first place previous to the last lap. I got around Pappas on a restart and I just decided to save the tires to the end. I knew everyone was going to go crazy. It’s a very narrow track. Thanks for everyone coming out to the race and we look to put on another good race tomorrow.”
“Obviously I qualified on pole and won the race so it was a pretty good day,” said Davison. “It doesn’t get much better. I’m just really pleased for the whole team. When you get a big opportunity like this with a manufacturer as a driver, when you’re expected to perform, you have to perform. Win and a pole six races into the year, it adds some confidence.”
In the GT championship, Beretta leads Dalziel with 594 points compared to 574. In GTA, Fuentes has 292 with Cisneros closely behind with 285. Thompson continues to lead in GT Cup.
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