Ryan Eversley has captured his third career Pirelli World Challenge win, his first in GT and first for the new RealTime Racing Acura TLX-GT car, in Round 3 of the season at St. Petersburg.
Eversley got a good enough start from pole in the all-wheel drive car before a 25-minute yellow flag period for a multiple-car accident, controlled the green flag middle stint under pressure from several rivals, and wound up winning under yellow following an accident by Bryan Heitkotter in Turn 2.
A chain reaction accident off the standing start to the 50-minute race collected the entire GT Cup presented by MOMO class podium from Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, with double winner Colin Thompson, Sloan Urry and Alec Udell all eliminated after contact with GTA driver Maximilian Voelker in his No. 37 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo FL2.
Drew Regitz was also involved and with Christina Nielsen stuck in the pits, and two other non-starters, the 43-car field was reduced to 35 in an instant.
Eversley led from Ryan Dalziel, Kevin Estre, Johnny O’Connell and Mike Skeen under yellow, with Marcelo Hahn emerging as top GTA driver in ninth.
Hahn, in the World Challenge-debuting No. 0 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo Extenso R-EX quickly fell out of play when he slowed at Turn 8, and Michael Lewis emerged with the lead in GTA in his No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Dalziel, in his No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, pressed Eversley as the race resumed following the 25-minute cleanup but was unable to make it past. His best opportunity came when the leaders approached GT Cup driver Preston Calvert through Turn 14, but Calvert moved aside to allow the leaders through on the outside.
Behind the leaders, Skeen charged up to third in his No. 2 CRP Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra, with O’Connell and Estre engaged in a good battle for fourth behind them. Estre had one brief moment where he ran wide at Turn 1 but survived.
Contact between Heitkotter and Eric Lux exiting Turn 2 forced Heitkotter into the wall with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the resulting cleanup forced the race to end under yellow.
Eversley won from Dalziel, who captured his third runner-up finish in as many races, with Skeen scoring his first podium of the season.
Andy Pilgrim, who finished seventh in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, set the fastest race lap of 1:13.726 and will have the pole for Sunday’s Round 4. Nick Catsburg will start second after his best time of 1:13.792; the Dutch driver incurred his second drive-through penalty in three races following contact with Robert Thorne at Turn 1.
Lewis won GTA, for his third consecutive win to open the season, from the DragonSpeed teammates of Frankie Montecalvo and Lux.
Meanwhile Phill Fogg Jr. took his first win in GT Cup in his No. 18 TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, after surviving the start line crash. In a repaired car, Lorenzo Trefethen drove to second in his No. 13 ANSA Motorsports car, with Mitch Landry third in the No. 97 Landry Racing car.
RESULTS: Round 3