Weekend round-up: Pirelli World Challenge

Just one week after the Pirelli World Challenge season opener in Austin, the championship went to Florida for the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. Two races were held at the airport course.

Pirelli World Challenge – St. Petersburg Grand Prix

Race 1

Nothing more than a formality on Friday afternoon for the first race of the weekend. Effort Racing Porsche 991 GT3R pilot Michael Lewis took the green from pole position, followed by K-Pax’s McLaren works driver Álvaro Parente in second and Johnny O’Connell in the Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3 in third place. Over the fifty minute race Lewis worked a small gap of several seconds. Neither Parente nor O’Connell could close to gap to the leader, making it the second Porsche win in the first three races this season.

Lewis’ team mate Patrick Long, meanwhile, had to fight his way to the front. The winner of the first race of the season missed qualifying earlier in the day as his team was still working to repair the Porsche after the heavy damage sustained in Austin. A Porsche works driver for a reason, Long’s blistering pace brought him seventh place at the finish.

Top 3 overall classification

1 #41 Effort Racing Porsche 991 GT3R (M. Lewis)
2 #9 K-Pax Racing McLaren 650S GT3 (A. Parente)
3 #3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3 (J. O’Connell)

Race 2

The street of St. Petersburg can be as harsh as they can be glorious. On Sunday it was the former, when Porsche Cup driver Corey Fergus smashed hard into the barriers at turn three during the second lap. Despite the violence of the accident, Fergus remained unharmed. A lengthy caution followed and when the race went back to green only nineteen minutes remained.

Lewis, having started from pole for the second race as well, held onto the lead at the restart as Always Evolving Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 driver James Davison followed in second. Behind the duo things turned into a bit of a mess with ten minutes remaining: braking for turn one the two Bentley Team Absolute Continental GT3’s of Adderly Fong and Andrew Palmer made contact with the K-Pax McLarens of Parente and Austin Cindric, with Cindric’s race ending in the wall.

As the race went back to green only two laps were to be raced. Lewis remained unthreatened by Davison to take his second win of the weekend. Long had made his way into the top three during the short green phases, looking set for a strong comeback. The Effort Porsche driver couldn’t hold onto third, however, losing his place on the podium when he made a mistake going into the first turn on the final lap, giving Cadillac’s Michael Cooper an opportunity to slip through.

Top 3 overall classification

1 #41 Effort Racing Porsche 991 GT3R (M. Lewis)
2 #33 Always Evolving Racing Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 (J. Davison)
3 #8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3 (M. Cooper)

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Miguel is the founder and editor-in-chief of GT REPORT. He’s more interested in the human side of the sport and the heroics of racing. Also the founder of automotive PR and photography agency GTXM.media. When it doesn’t clash with racing you’ll find Miguel cheering football club Vitesse on.

Miguel Bosch

Miguel is the founder and editor-in-chief of GT REPORT. He’s more interested in the human side of the sport and the heroics of racing. Also the founder of automotive PR and photography agency GTXM.media. When it doesn’t clash with racing you’ll find Miguel cheering football club Vitesse on.