Michael Lewis in the #41 EFFORT Racing Porsche took the win in Race 2 to make it a clean sweep for both himself and EFFORT Racing on the streets of St. Petersburg. Unfortunately though, the majority of the race was held under Full-Course Caution conditions, after multiple incidents prevented the race from ever really getting going.
“The race was pretty hectic,” said Lewis after the race. “It was mainly about getting through the first corner in first place. It ended up being a restart battle. I hope those drivers are OK. But great job by the marshals to get them out.”
Into Turn 1 on the first lap – like in Race 1 – the whole field managed to make it through cleanly. JD Davison in the #33 Always Evolving Nissan GT-R made the most significant move of the pack, diving up the inside of Alvaro Parente’s #9 K-PAX Racing McLaren to hand himself second place.
Behind him Patrick Long also had an impressive run into the first corner, as he managed to weave his way through the pack to fourth spot after starting the race seventh in the #31 EFFORT Racing Porsche.
As the cars began to settle down during the second lap, the first Full-Course Caution was called, when Corey Fergus’ #00 Motorsport Promotions’ Porsche Cup car hit the barrier on the outside of Turn 3 hard.
Fergus appeared to lose control on the entry to the corner, running wide and hitting the barriers hard enough ti destroy the left-hand side of the car and retire on the spot.
The race then didn’t get going again until there was just 18 minutes left to run of the 50-minute sprint.
At the restart, Lewis held onto the lead. Further back, (behind Davison) Patrick Long and Alvaro Parente ran side-by-side, with Long managing to climb into third spot in the run through Turn 2. This led to Parente getting swallowed by the pair of Cadillac’s directly behind in fourth and fifth – Johnny O’Connell leading Michael Cooper.
The McLaren factory was down to sixth, and in danger of falling further down the order, as by then he had slipped into the clutches of Ryan Eversley’s Acura. Eversely piled on the pressure, and briefly snuck by the Portuguese driver into Turn 1, but he couldn’t make it stick. Meanwhile, the train of cars behind them grew larger and larger.
Later on that lap (21), Parente came across the Preston Calvert #77 Cup Porsche, and was held up at the final corner, with Calvert clearly not seeing the McLaren behind.
Parente tried to stick his nose up the inside, but the door was subsequently slammed shut and he lost momentum on the run down the pit straight. It created what turned out to be a disastrous sequence of events for the K-PAX squad.
Eversely managed to breeze past the McLaren to take sixth across the start-finish line, before Parente was nudged into a spin by Andrew Palmer’s Absolute Racing Bentley on the run through the first corner.
At the same moment, Parente’s teammate Austin Cindric – who was running directly behind Palmer – was also tapped – by the sister Absolute Bentley of Adderly Fong. Cindric went sideways into the wall on the outside of Turn 1 and retired.
Parente managed to get going again and limped back to the pits for a check up as the safety car was called for a second time while the marshals cleared up the stranded Cindric 650S GT3.
With that incident, Palmer managed to climb to seventh spot, where the third K-PAX 650 of Colin Thompson would follow him home. Neither Bentley was penalised for the decision.
The race would go green one last time, and only two meaningful events occurred. Patrick Long locked his brakes going into Turn 1 to start the final lap, handing Michael Cooper’s Cadillac third place.
Fong on the final lap slipped back to 12 spot – presumably due to struggling for pace because of accident damage.
Lewis then crossed the line, 1.2 seconds ahead of Davison, to score his second overall win in the series, and second of the weekend. Cooper held onto third, with Long a further two seconds adrift.
Once again both Martin Fuentes and Sloan Urry won the GTA and GT Cup classes respectively.
Next up on the World Challenge calendar is the Grand Prix of Long Beach on the 15th to 17th of April.