Cadillac Racing’s weekend started off on the right foot when Johnny O’Connell lapped the Long Beach circuit in his No. 3 ATS-V.R in 1:19.738, putting him in third for the race start, but things soon went south once the green flag was put out.
The majority of the Pirelli World Challenge race at Long Beach was run under caution. A yellow flag was put out almost immediately when the No. 32 BMW Z4 GT3 stalled on the start grid. O’Connell was able to make up one position on the start after passing the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 of Kevin Estre, putting him in second for the restart.
After the restart, the No. 05 Nissan GT-R GT3 of Bryan Heitkotter made contact with No. 20 Bentley Continental GT3 of Butch Leitzinger, putting out another full course caution and relegating Heitkotter to the pits to serve a drive-thru penalty. This prompted a third restart which saw O’Connell briefly battle with leader Beretta and Estre in third.
Cadillac Racing had so far managed to avoid getting collected in a wreck on the tight Long beach track, until Lap 9. Robert Thorne carried too much speed into Turn 11 and made contact with the No. 66 DragonSpeed Bayshore Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 of Frank Montecalvo and Andy Pilgrim’s No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R. Thorne received a drive-thru penalty and the race resumed on Lap 14.
More bad luck struck the Cadillac camp when Beretta, O’Connell and Estre ran three wide through turns 7 and 8. Beretta attempted to take Estre and O’Connell on the inside but ran out of room, pushing the McLaren and Cadillac towards the outside. This sent O’Connell and Estre into the tires as Ryan Dalziel and Chris Dyson went past into second and third.
The Cadillac cars of O’Connell and Pilgrim went onto the finish two laps down in 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Beretta, Dyson and Dalziel occupied the podium, in that order, after two more cautions were put out for separate incidents.
“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,” Beretta said. “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.”
The team will look to improve on the result when the series heads to Barber Motorsports Park next weekend for the MOMO Grand Prix at Barber presented by Porsche.