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O’Connell Wins First of Two Races at CTMP

O’Connell breaks through on Saturday at CTMP…

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Johnny O’Connell parlayed pole position into his first victory of the season in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R in Round 8 of the Pirelli World Challenge season, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

The three-time defending GT class champion also secured the first worldwide win for Cadillac’s newest FIA GT3-spec challenger.

O’Connell led flag-to-flag in the 25-lap, 50-minute race, but still had to hold off the field of GT challengers following a final lap restart after an accident involving GT Cup presented by MOMO class competitor Preston Calvert.

The restart was the third of three on the day, and also came after a World Challenge series decision to start with a rolling start, rather than the traditional standing start.

The win is O’Connell’s eighth at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and his 55th as a GM driver.

“All of the drivers in the series are strong right now. Everyone is super tight,” O’Connell said. “I had to hold them off for a couple of restarts. On the final one, Kevin Estre in the McLaren and Butch Leitzinger in the Bentley were side-by-side, so that made it a little easier to get away.”

Estre, in the No. 9 McLaren Toronto K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3 and Leitzinger, in the rebuilt No. 20 Bentley Team Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3, completed the podium finishers.

Estre started fourth but made it into second by the end of the first lap. Leitzinger started and finished third for his first podium and best result thus far this season.

Chris Dyson and Mike Skeen completed the top five finishers.

Points leader Olivier Beretta finished seventh after starting second, while Ryan Dalziel ended 13th after starting in the same position.

Bryan Heitkotter (GTA) and Colin Thompson (GT Cup) won their second consecutive races in their respective categories.

For Heitkotter it his second GTA win of the year in the No. 05 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, and for Thompson it is his seventh in eight GT Cup races in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

The ninth round of the season occurs Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET. O’Connell will start from pole, by virtue of setting the fastest race lap today.

RESULTS: Round 8

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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