The Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Lime Rock took place over the Memorial Day weekend at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut for two days of racing action. For the top GT/GTA classes the two races on the docket were rounds 10 and 11. K-Pax McLaren driver, Alvaro Parente, pulled off the double and secured the win in both of them.
From the rolling start, Andrew Palmer, in the No. 87 Bentley, took the early lead with a move going into turn one on the outside of pole-sitter Parente, in the No. 9 McLaren 650S, who slotted into second ahead of Patrick Long, in the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Rounding out the top five were Kyle Marcelli, in the No. 2, Audi R8, and Johnny O’Connell, in the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R. after the opening lap.
In GTA, pole-sitter Martin Fuentes, driving the No. 07 Ferrari 458 Italia, held off Frankie Montecalvo, in the No. 66 Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 on the start with Race Control issuing a warning to the two drivers for contact as they battled for the GTA lead. It was Schein, in the No. 16 Porsche GT3-R, slotted into third place behind the dueling front two.
Just a few minutes into the race the story turned back to the leaders, as Parente ran just a few tenths behind Palmer’s Bentley as those two traded fast laps and started to develop a gap on Long in third. In GTA, Fuentes was managing a close one-second lead over Montecalvo, as Urry held onto the lead over Udell.
At the 10-minute mark, as the GT leaders were working through traffic, Parente looked high and then low into turn one to take the race lead back from Palmer. The deft pass won Parente the Cadillac ATS-V Best Move of the Race. Parente would then pull a gap and a big race lead over Palmer, who continued to lead a closing Long followed by Marcelli and O’Connell.
Through lap 21, Fuentes continued to lead over Montecalvo and Schein in GTA, while Urry led in GT Cup over Udell and Fergus. Montecalvo then pulled off in turn one with a mechanical issue, allowing Schein to pull into second. Montecalvo eventually retired from the race pulling his car off the track in the chicane area after trying to limp the car back to the pits.
At the 27-minute mark, Ryan Eversley, in the No. 43 Acura TLX-GT, passed Austin Cindric, in the No. 6 McLaren 650S, for seventh with a move on the front straight as the drivers worked through traffic. The pass moved Cindric back to eighth with Michael Cooper, in the No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R., running in ninth.
As the race passed its halfway mark, Palmer was busy holding off Long and Marcelli for second place as the three cars ran nose-to-tail around the 1.5-mile circuit. Long was able to get alongside the Bentley multiple times but couldn’t make a pass stick.
With eight minutes to go, Palmer went off course in turn one following contact with Long, which sent Palmer down a number of positions – Race Control handed Long a drive-through penalty for contact. With Long serving the penalty, Marcelli and O’Connell found themselves second and third, respectively.
In GTA, Schein closed to within a second of Fuentes late in the race and pulled up to the bumper of the Ferrari with two laps to go igniting a battle for the class lead. Schein then passed Fuentes for the lead through the chicane section of the track.
Ahead of them in GT, Parente took the checkered flag for the GT victory, and Marcelli scored his best finish of the season with a second place. O’Connell completed the podium and was followed by Fong in the Bentley, and teammate Palmer, who managed to salvage a fifth place finish despite the earlier contact with Long. Eversley, in the No. 43 Acura TLX-GT, finished sixth, winning the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger, advancing four spots during the race. Long came home seventh in the No. 58 Porsche after the penalty, just behind Eversley and in front of Cooper’s Cadillac in eighth.
In GTA, Schein took the victory ahead of Fuentes, with Jorge De La Torre, in the No. 4 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 finishing third. In GT Cup, Urry led from flag-to-flag to win ahead of Udell, winning by about a second after Udell closed the gap late in the race and Fergus completed the podium.
From the perfect rolling start, Parente, in the McLaren 650S, took the lead from the pole ahead of Long, in the Porsche 911 GT3 R, and O’Connell, in the Cadillac Racing ATS-V.R. In GTA, Fuentes, driving the Ferrari 458 Italia, led the opening lap over Montecalvo, in the Mercedes AMG SLS GT3. Back in GT Cup, it was Urry, in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, out front after the first lap ahead of Udell.
On lap three it was three-wide in GT for fourth at turn one, with Eversley, in the Acura TLX-GT, holding the spot ahead of Marcelli, in the Audi R8, and JD Davison, in the Nissan GTR GT3. At the 10-minute mark of the race, Parente led Long by 1.2 seconds, with another 1.8 seconds back to O’Connell in third, who had a slight margin on Eversley and Marcelli.
In GTA, Fuentes led Schein, in the Porsche GT3-R, by 1.7 seconds – Schein had Montecalvo who slotted back into third. While in the GT Cup, Urry led Udell by .608 seconds as those two drivers stretched a gap over their fellow GT Cup competitors.
On lap 16, Eversley had closed the gap on O’Connell and challenged the Cadillac for position. Up front, Parente’s lead was down to just .565 seconds as the leaders worked through traffic. As the leaders went through the GT Cup field, Udell was able to pass Urry for the class lead, scoring the Cadillac Move of the Race Award.
In addition, Adderly Fong, in the Bentley Continental GT3, passed Bryan Heitkotter, in the Nissan GT3 GT-R, for seventh on lap 20. Mid-way through the race O’Connell suffered a flat right-rear tire, dropping him down the order, and promoting Eversley to third, Marcelli to fourth and Davison to fifth while Parente had built a small gap over Long for the lead.
With 12 minutes to go, Parente’s lead held steady at .858 seconds, while most of the GT action saw Eversley fighting Marcelli off for third, while Davison was holding off Fong for the fifth position. Fuentues continued to lead in GTA, Marcelli eventually got past Eversley in the late stages of the race in the Audi, winning the Clean Pass of the Race award. Udell’s lead stretched to 4.278 seconds over Urry in the GT Cup class.
With the checkered flag out, Parente would take his second GT win in as many days, with Long, Marcelli, Eversley and Davison completing the top five. Davison would also win the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining seven positions during the race. In GTA, Fuentes would take the win ahead of Schein and Montecalvo. Udell took top honors in GT Cup, followed by Urry and Corey Fergus.