James Davison has scored his first Pirelli World Challenge victory in Round 6 of the season at Barber Motorsports Park, and while the racing improved significantly from Round 5 at Long Beach, there were still some questions that emerged following the checkered flag.
While the scheduled 50-minute race was poised to end under green for a final four-minute sprint, the third full-course caution of the race was issued with just over one minute remaining when GTA driver Josseph Toussaint spun his No. 90 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R exiting Turn 17.
Toussaint took nearly the full timing of the lap to restart and resumed just before the overall leaders passed through Turn 17; however, the caution flew at that point.
It set up what was likely going to be a finish under the full-course yellow conditions. However, per Pirelli World Challenge series officials, the decision was made with 50 seconds remaining on the 50-minute race length clock to restart the race under green.
The single caution lap took longer than the set time frame and a green flag was issued following the anticipated 50-minute time limit; race winner Davison completed the race at an unofficial race time of 52 minutes, and 9.241 seconds.
Per Rule 2.16.6 of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge rulebook, races will be a maximum of 50 minutes in duration, unless otherwise specified in the Supplementary Regulations. Races may be shortened as necessary to accommodate the TV schedule.
“I suspected it,” Davison told Sportscar365 about the final yellow call. “They threw the yellow out of precaution and didn’t need to. But I had a very good idea straight away, that there was very good chance it would go green again.
“It’s gonna be a green-white-checkered, or green-white-restart. I got a great restart, and that made the last lap not so stressful. (Nick) Catsburg gave me a good run for my money.”
The ending clouded what was an otherwise improved day at the office by the majority of the 39-car field, which saw several key storylines emerge over the race.
Davison, in the No. 33 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, led flag-to-flag over Nick Catsburg, in the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo FL2, with Catsburg pressing the whole race but never able to make a move on the Australian. Davison took the win by an unofficial margin of 0.928 of a second, to secure Nissan’s first win in World Challenge GT.
Mike Skeen drove an uneventful race to third place in the No. 2 CRP Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra.
Johnny O’Connell carved through the field in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, as following an engine change he started 27th on the grid but made it up to fourth at the checkered flag.
Also turning in a good day’s work was Ryan Dalziel, who ended fifth in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R after starting ninth. Both EFFORT Porsches were on pace for top-five finishes but Dalziel’s teammate Michael Lewis, in the No. 41 Porsche, fell back on the final lap restart with a last-lap puncture.
Martin Fuentes emerged victorious from a scrappy race in GTA in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 ahead of Henrique Cisneros (No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) and Tim Pappas (No. 54 Black Swan Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R).
Frankie Montecalvo led the first half of the race in the No. 66 DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, but debris hit his car to cause an unscheduled pit stop.
Montecalvo fought back and was poised to catch the GTA leaders before the second caution of the race, caused when Jeff Courtney was stuck in the Turn 16 gravel trap in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Audi R8 LMS ultra.
Pappas inherited the lead from there but following the second restart, Fuentes was able to get by. The Mexican noted he did not have the pace of the Mercedes or Viper, but saved his tires for the end of the race.
GT Cup presented by MOMO had a thrilling bout between Colin Thompson, in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and the returning Alec Udell, in the No. 17 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Udell and Thompson were neck-and-neck before Thompson pulled an outside-inside crossover move on Udell through the Turns 16 and 17 complex for the win, his fifth in six races to open the year. Udell was second with Sloan Urry, in the No. 02 TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, third.
Robert Thorne, who recovered to 13th after starting from the pits due to a mechanical issue in qualifying, set the fastest race lap of 1:23.618 in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3 and will have the pole for Sunday’s Round 7.
Also of note, the first caution flew after 14 minutes and 10 laps of green flag time when Christina Nielsen (No. 7 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3) contacted Henrik Hedman (No. 10 DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3) in Turns 16 and 17, pitching them both into the gravel. Nielsen resumed on track and laid gravel down upon her return.
RESULTS: Round 6 (Provisional)