The DeVilbiss Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac featured round 11 of the Pirelli World Championship GT and GTA classes. The opening race closed with more than one driver disappointed by their finish. Some late race aggressive driving dropped debris on track and it was more effective than a leaving a Mario Kart style banana down Rainbow Road. That didn’t stop the fast times, however, as the fastest qualifying lap of 2:03:912 shattered last year’s GT lap record of 2:08:216.
The Detroit make-up race would have started with a pair of Bentley Continental GT3s on the front row, but Chris Dyson was forced to start from the back. This all happened after an abbreviated starting procedure forced the cars to start their engines on pit road. This lead right into another couple issues. Mike Lewis lost power coming to the grid and retired before the lights when green. Johnny O’Connell’s Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 bogged down and converted the green flag to a full course yellow. He soon regained power and the pack took the green flag next time by.
After starting second, Tomas Enge and his Lamborghini Gallardo GT3FL2 was able to quickly capitalize on the Bentley’s less that stellar launch; he quickly took the lead into turn 1. Ryan Dalziel was able to jump to second and by the 4th lap, and was challenging Enge for the lead in his Effort Racing Porsche 911 GT3R. As the battle heated up between the leaders, the lap times became blistering fast. By Lap 5, most of the field was running some 2 second faster than last year’s record.
Eventual podium finisher, JD Davison climbed up to 4th place, stealing the position from Olivier Beretta on Lap 6 after starting in 6th position. Davison eventually raced his way passed Mike Skeen to finish second.
The almost caution free race allowed for great battles all throughout the field. Henrique Cisneros piloted his MOMO Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia past Eric Lux’s Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 in an impressive out-braking maneuver into turn 1. Cisneros would come home 10th after an impressive charge from 17th.
Late race drama developed as Kevin Estre’s McLaren 650S GT3 suffered a punctured tire with 17 laps complete, leaving shards of carbon fiber scattered on the racing line. Estre finished 20th while others were affected by the debris left on track. Ryan Dalziel was one of the victims of the on-track obstacles and retired with under 10 minutes remaining. This left Enge unchallenged for the race win.
After the race, Estre mentioned that the McLaren 650S is a strong car for this event, but suffered from a series-mandated air restriction after success earlier in the season. After a disappointing start, Bentley Team Dyson Racing ended up in the order they qualified in; Leitzinger leading the team to a 5-6 finish.
All in all, Round 11 featured relatively little car to car contact and featured some of the greatest racing we’ve seen all year, albeit not for the lead at the end of the race. With great passes for position all through the field, the initial round at Road America hints at a promising weekend of close, hard racing.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
1 Tomas Enge Lamborghini Gallardo GT3FL2
2 JD Davison Nissan GT-R GT3
3 Mike Skeen Audi R8 LMS Ultra
4 Olivier Beretta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia
5 Butch Leitzinger Bentley Continental GT3
6 Chris Dyson Bentley Continental GT3
7 Bryan Heitkotter(A) Nissan GT-R GT3
8 Johnny O Connell Cadillac ATS-VR GT3
9 Ryan Eversley Acura TLX-GT
10 Henrique Cisneros(A) Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia
11 Eric Lux(A) Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3
12 Duncan Ende Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia
13 Timothy Pappas(A) Dodge Viper GT3R
14 Robert Thorne McLaren 650S GT3
15 Dan Knox(A) Dodge Viper GT3-R
16 Andy Pilgrim Cadillac ATS-VR GT3
17 James Sofronas Audi R8 LMS Ultra
18 Martin Fuentes(A) Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia
19 Jeff Courtney(A) Audi R8 LMS Ultra
20 Kevin Estre McLaren 650S GT3
21 Drew Regitz(A) Audi R8 LMS Ultra
22 Bill Ziegler(A) BMW E89 Z4 GT3
23 Peter Cunningham Acura TLX-GT
24 Ryan Dalziel Porsche 911 GT3R
25 Frank Montecalvo(A) Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3
26 Michael Lewis(R)Porsche 911 GT3R