EFFORT Racing substitute driver Renger van der Zande won the second Pirelli World Challenge GT race of the weekend at Sonoma Raceway, whilst Frank Montecalvo and Colin Thompson took home the GTA and GT Cup honours.
Robert Thorne was passed by van der Zande off the line, whilst Thorne’s K-PAX Racing team-mate, Kevin Estre, assumed third position. A full course caution was called after a multi-car crash at turn two, with retirements including Mike Skeen, Peter Cunningham, Chris Dyson and Michael Lewis.
This allowed championship contenders Olivier Beretta and Johnny O’Connell to take fourth and seventh positions respectively.
As the race restarted on lap 4, the EFFORT Racing driver defended his lead whilst the two K-PAX Racing drivers went side-by-side, with Estre eventually making the move and passing Thorne.
Later, at the two-thirds mark, Thorne attempted to pass lapped traffic successfully, went wide and handed his third position to Beretta.
After 30 laps, van der Zande scored his first Pirelli World Challenge career victory, ahead of Estre by 2.2 seconds. Beretta and Thorne finished next, with the McLaren driver having to defend from Andy Pilgrim on the last lap, who wasn’t able to make a move stick.
“Winning today is fantastic,” said van der Zande. “The car improved a lot overnight, and for me it’s the first time doing well with a Porsche and driving it to the limit.
“For sure yesterday the car wasn’t great, the tire pressure was maybe a little too high, but also me pushing a little too hard on it, so getting back today and managing the tire all the way through the race, managing the gap between Kevin Estre was very good. Estre is one of the best drivers in the world in GT, so being in front of him really makes me proud.”
Championship leader Frank Montecalvo took a strong lead into turn one, after having started from pole position. Behind Montecalvo were DragonSpeed team-mate Eric Lux and Henrique Cisneros.
The latter would lose his position to Martin Fuentes soon after, when he received a drive-through penalty for contact at the race start.
At the chequered flag, Montecalvo took his seventh victory of the season, 6.4 seconds ahead of Lux and Fuentes. Cisneros finished fourth, ahead of race one winner Christina Nielsen.
“We started the season with some ups and downs, so it was really hard for us to make up the points,” commented Montecalvo. After all the hard work we put in on the car, we just put our heads down, got some good luck and stayed out of trouble.”
Due to the turn two GT incident, the GT Cup field started under yellow, with points leader Colin Thompson taking the lead straightaway.
The Porsche of Bucks County driver led race 1 winner Alec Udell and Sloan Urry. These positions remained static until the chequered flag, when Thompson completed 29 laps less than five seconds clear.
Only just Missing out on podium positions were Lorenzo Trefethen and Victor Gomez, who finished fourth and fifth.
“I can’t ask for anything more from Jeff Stone and the Kelly Moss Motorsport boys,” said Thompson. “They give me the car to win every single weekend, and with a 3rd yesterday and 1st today, it is a good weekend. We’ve got to be proud with what we have done with the Porsche and I’m looking forward to the finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.”