Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria and Henrique Cisneros, of Miami, FL won in GT and GTA respectively in Saturday’s Round 10 at Detroit’s Belle Isle and the Cadillac V-Series Challenge presented by the Metro Detroit Cadillac dealers.
The 50-minute race began with a rolling start and GT pole sitter Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, in the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia took the lead through turn 1 over Estre in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, who started second, and Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V R, who had started third.
GTA pole sitter Henrique Cisneros, of Miami, Fla, in the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia took the lead in class over Martin Fuentes, of Mexico City, MX, in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa/Hublot/Samsung/UnderArmour Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia and Frank Montecalvo, of Highlands, N.J. in the No. 66 Bayshore Racing DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3. Bret Curtis, of Austin, Texas, in the No. 32 Turner Motorsport/SPECTRA Resources Corp/United Steel Supply/Valspar Paint Up BMW E89 Z4 GT3 had a great start moving up seven positions, earning the Optima Batteries Best Start Award, from his 20th starting position for second in GTA as they crossed the stripe to complete lap 1. Montecalvo was 3rd in class as they crossed the line.
On lap 2, Estre was challenging Beretta and executed a clean pass through turns 12 and 13 for the lead. Estre was awarded the Cadillac ATS-V Move of the Race with the pass.
Through lap 3, Estre had built a gap of 1.330 seconds over Beretta, with O’Connell third, Nick Catsburg, of Voorthuizen, Netherlands, in the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 in fourth, and Ryan Eversley, of Atlanta, Ga., in the No. 43 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT in fifth. In GTA, Cisneros had built a gap of 1.019 seconds over Curtis.
By lap 5, Estre had built his lead to 2.141 seconds over Beretta, while at that point in the race setting a new race lap record with a 1:31.552 (previous record was held by Anthony Lazzaro who ran a 1:32.488 in 2014). On the same lap, Catsburg’s No. 25 car would make contact with O’Connell’s No. 3 machine, allowing Catsburg to move into third. O’Connell lost momentum and fell back to sixth.
By lap 10, Cisneros still led in GTA, while Christina Nielsen, of Aarhus, Denmark, in the No. 7 Royal Purple/Orion Energy/LaSalle Solutions/PassTime USA TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 moved up to second, with Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif., in the No. 05 Nissan GT Academy GT-R GT3 in third.
Catsburg, due to the damage from the incident with O’Connell, would come into the pit and retire the car. By Lap 12 Estre led over Beretta, with JD Davison, of St. Petersburg, moving into third in the No. 33 AE/ReplayXD/NISSAN NISMO GT-R GT3. On the same lap, Curtis would strike back and pass Nielsen for second in GTA.
While Estre stretched his lead over Beretta (by 5.734 seconds), and Beretta stretched his lead over Davison (by 1.755 seconds), Chris Dyson, of Pleasant Valley, N.Y. in the No. 16 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Team Bentley Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3 closed up to battle for third in GT by lap 15. Then on Lap 20, Dyson was able to pass Davison on the front straight into turn 1 to gain third. The pass netted Dyson the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award.
Positions remained the same when the checkered flew on lap 33, with Estre scoring his third GT win of the 2015 season, and Cisneros his first career Pirelli World Challenge GTA win. Beretta would finish second in GT ahead of Dyson in third, while O’Connell finished fourth and Davison fifth. Curtis finished second in GTA with Nielsen third in class. Nielsen was awarded the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining 11 positions overall during the race.
“I finally got that heavy monkey off my back,” said Cisneros on winning his first career PWC race. “The race went very well, it was smooth sailing from the beginning. We had a great pace, a great rhythm.”
“As always with the World Challenge we put out a great race, it was so competitive, so hardnosed. The quality of the top eight guys in this series is unbelievable,” said Dyson. “The racing is so ferocious you’ve got to fight for every square inch out there. The Bentley was very good, we got caught up in a little bit off a first lap turn 2 fracas, straightened that out, had a great battle with Davison for a while, and once I cleared him, I think Mike Skeen and Johnny O’Connell had some trouble, so we were able to advance a little bit but honestly Kevin (Estre) and Olivier (Beretta) were really doing a great job. I think it’s a testament for all the work the series has done to make all the cars balanced. As you can see, all the cars are considerably different but in the lap times, really there was nothing between the top four guys. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, let’s hope it stays dry.”
“We had a really good race, no yellows, no contact and we had a nice, clean fight. I had a really good car, and like Chris (Dyson) said the championships are very competitive, there are good drivers, good teams so you’ve got a good series. Let’s see how the race will go tomorrow,” said Beretta.
“I had a good start and then we were kind of equal on the pace with Olivier at the beginning, but the Ferrari has some strengths that the McLaren does not, so it was tough to pass but then I think that Olivier made a small mistake at turn 8 and got a bit out of line and then somehow I had a really good exit out of turn 10, and then I could pass him, it was really fair and just protected a little bit but without having contact, it was good,” said Estre. “I think we had a really great car at the beginning because I was able to put a gap and we were a bit faster than everybody else. Then everybody brought up the pace and everyone went quicker and quicker, so the team told me that and I needed to push, but it is not easy on a street track where you’ve got a lead with a gap and try and push, because if you want to do a fast lap you’re going to have to take some risks, and I tried to take the minimum amount of risk. We start P4 tomorrow really close to the others, so it’s going to be interesting, we’ll see how the weather is tomorrow.”
Results are provisional until posted final. With a fast lap of 1:31.297, Beretta will start on pole for Sunday’s Round 11 race. With a 1:32.204, Cisneros will start on pole in GTA. Both Beretta and Cisneros continue to lead in GT and GTA Drivers’ Championship points respectively. In GT Manufacturers’ Points, McLaren continues to lead over Ferrari
(Pirelli World Challenge)