Olivier Beretta has won the fifth round of the Pirelli World Challenge season at Long Beach, but like at St. Petersburg, yellow flags, incidents and poor driving standards ruled the day in the 50-minute race.
Most of the race was run under yellow, following a series of incidents, track blockages and questionable moves.
Even Beretta’s race wasn’t entirely clean, with the climactic moment of the race occurring on one of the rare green flag laps.
Off a restart, Johnny O’Connell made a pass on Beretta for the lead entering Turn 6, and completed the move to the inside.
On the run from Turn 6 through to Turn 8, however, O’Connell, Kevin Estre and Beretta were split three-wide going into the corner.
In an accordion effect accident, Beretta’s No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 collected Estre’s No. 9 K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3, which then collected O’Connell’s No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.
“It was difficult because each time you went under yellow, you had to restart everything,” Beretta said. “Each time on the restart, it is a challenge.
“I’m happy with the result, I just feel sorry for Johnny (O’Connell) — we went three-wide into the corner and there was contact. I am sorry for him — I don’t think it was my mistake, it was just that on a street race right there, we could not be three-wide.”
Beretta was not issued a penalty during the race; however, all results are provisional and subject to potential post-race penalties. It remains to be seen whether one is issued post-race.
The Monegasque driver made it home to the win, his third of the season, ahead of Chris Dyson and Ryan Dalziel.
Dyson posted a season-best result both for him and the Bentley Team Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3, with Dalziel on the podium for the fourth time in five races in his No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Michael Lewis, in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, finished fourth overall and top GTA classified driver. James Davison was fifth in the No. 33 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 with Ryan Eversley sixth in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura TLX-GT.
A rule exists in the Pirelli World Challenge rulebook that can affect GTA driver classification status if a driver achieves two overall top-five finishes, which Lewis now has after finishing fifth overall at Round 1 at Circuit of the Americas.
Per Rule 220.127.116.11.A of the Pirelli World Challenge rulebook, a driver who achieves an overall first, second or third position, or two overall fourth and fifth positions will automatically be moved to the GT class.
Colin Thompson, in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, won the GT Cup presented by MOMO class.
Both Lewis and Thompson won their fourth race in five attempts this year.
There were other incidents affecting cars in the 38-car field – at one point, the entire Turn 11 hairpin was blocked – in a race primarily run behind the safety car.
The next round of the Pirelli World Challenge season occurs at Barber Motorsports Park next week, with a doubleheader race for the GT, GTA, GT Cup and GTS classes.
World Challenge issued a notice to competitors late Sunday, confirming the following cars under review for incidents:
Cars No. 6, 9, 10, 11,13, 14, 16, 19, 20, 21, 30, 31, 32, 41, 42, 44, 54, 61,65, 99, 01, 02, 05, 07, 08.
Rulings are expected to be made in the next few days.
RESULTS: Round 5 (Provisional)