Johnny O’Connell scored his second straight GT win and fourth of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season in Round 17 at Miller Motorsports Park. Frankie Montecalvo also won his second straight race in GTA, while Colin Thompson won the Round 15 race in GT Cup.
As the light sequence went out for the standing start, pole sitter O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R got the launch off he needed to protect the racing line into Turn 1.
James Davison, in the No. 33 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, followed closely in second ahead of Andy Pilgrim, in the No. 8 Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 and Bryan Heitkotter, in the No. 05 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 who then continued to battle, with Pilgrim going through to third a few corners later.
Championship points leader Ryan Dalziel, in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, was also on the move on the opening lap, advancing to fourth from his starting position of eighth.
In GTA, class pole sitter Montecalvo, in the No. 66 DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3, took the lead through Turn 1 and slotted into ninth overall in the race ahead of Martin Fuentes, in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, who slotted into 15th overall and second in class and Henrique Cisneros, in the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, in 17th overall and third in class.
In GT Cup, polesitter Alec Udell, in the No. 17 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, launched cleanly to take the lead over Thompson, in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
On the second lap, Dalziel would continue to move, getting around Pilgrim’s Cadillac for third while O’Connell began to build a gap over Davison’s Nissan.
On lap three, Guy Smith, in the No. 20 Bentley Team Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3, came into the picture as he moved around Heitkotter for fifth, and two laps later, he passed Pilgrim for fourth place in the Black Rock Hairpin.
In GT Cup on Lap 6, a tremendous battle ensued with Udell and Thompson. Thompson passed Udell through Turn 3. Udell would then drive his No. 17 machine alongside Thompson’s No. 11 machine through Turns 4, 5 and 6 with Thompson ultimately winning the drag race through the Witchcraft section of the track to take the lead through the section of the track called the Attitudes.
In GT, Smith continued to pick up the pace, and he quicky caught Dalziel, who was running third as those two began a near-race long battle for the final podium position.
On Lap 19, Smith looked for a way around Dalziel as the scrap intensified. On Lap 21, Dalziel ran a defensive, low line into turn one, as Smith put his Bentley on the outside of the corner. Exiting the corner, the two cars made contact, with Smith briefly going off course.
As the checkered flew, it was Cadillac, Nissan and Bentley in the top three in GT at Utah. O’Connell won over Davison with Smith in third. Dalziel would finish fourth, ahead of the second Cadillac of Pilgrim in fifth spot. In GTA, Montecalvo won over Lux and Fuentes, while Thompson finished ahead of Udell and Urry in GT Cup.
Championship contender Olivier Beretta, in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, finished 10th.
“This was a great points weekend,” O’Connell said. “We had a good car yesterday, but the guys at Cadillac Racing improved it even more and just made it a little easier to drive today.
“James Davison was all over me in his Nissan. He even tried flashing his lights at me late in the race, I just ignore that stuff. He is a great young talent.
“We are a fourth quarter team. We are going away from this weekend second in the points. Two good wins and a lot of points going into Sonoma in one week.”
Results are provisional until posted final. In GT, Dalziel holds a slim lead over O’Connell who moves into second in the drivers’ championship ahead of Beretta in third.
Montecalvo now leads in GTA over Cisneros. Thompson continues to lead in GT Cup.
GT, and GTA drivers now head to Sonoma Raceway August 28-30 for Rounds 18 and 19 of the Championship, while GT Cup drivers get set for Rounds 14 and 15.
RESULTS: Round 17 (GT/GTA), Round 15 (GT Cup)