Johnny O’Connell held off a race-long charge from Butch Leitzinger to complete a weekend sweep in the Pirelli World Challenge at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
O’Connell led flag-to-flag from pole in the 36-lap, 50-minute race and beat Leitzinger by 0.539 of a second.
It’s O’Connell’s first weekend double since winning both races at Detroit last June. It’s also the first weekend double in the series since Ryan Dalziel swept the Mid-Ohio races last August.
O’Connell started from pole in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R with Leitzinger rolling off from fifth in the No. 20 Bentley Team Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3, with the field back to a standing start.
The race nearly had a diabolical moment on Lap 2 when O’Connell led the rest of the field through Turn 1 as a tow truck was on course, with the truck moving from outside corner exit to the inside of the course to remove a stopped car, Bill Ziegler’s No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3.
The truck stopped to the inside to retrieve Ziegler’s car and the race went to a full-course caution on Lap 4.
The caution briefly halted action and after the restart several of the contenders dropped away.
Contact occurred between James Davison in the No. 33 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 and Kevin Estre in the No. 9 McLaren Toronto K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3 into Turn 8, with Estre going off course and falling back from second position.
Olivier Beretta also lost spots in the early stages in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Robert Thorne in the second McLaren (several pit stops) and Andy Pilgrim in the second Cadillac (a pit stop, and later a significantly smaller fire compared to O’Connell’s in Barber) also fell down the order as the race progressed.
Leitzinger quickly made it into second with teammate Chris Dyson up to third after the Davison/Estre contact.
From there, Leitzinger was able to hound O’Connell for the majority of the race, but was unable to make a move past, even as the pair sliced through traffic.
Dyson finished third for his second podium of the year. Mike Skeen was fourth with Bryan Heitkotter completing the overall top five.
Heitkotter’s GTA win is his third in a row in the No. 05 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, and it’s also his best overall finish of the year.
Lorenzo Trefethen, in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, took his first career GT Cup presented by MOMO class win on the last lap.
Phil Fogg Jr. was leading, but with a cut left rear tire spun off course at Turn 8. He fell to third, with points leader Colin Thompson in-between them in second.
The GT and GTA divisions race next at Detroit in two weeks, with all other classes returning to action at Road America the last weekend in June.
RESULTS: Round 9