Ryan Eversley (#43 ReatTime Acura Motorsports HPD TLX-GT) set the fastest lap in GT qualifying to take the pole for Pirelli World Challenge Round 3, the Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Bryan Heitkotter, posted the fastest lap in GTA. Colin Thompson, who won both Round 1 and Round 2 at Circuit of the Americas, claimed the pole in the GT Cup presented by MOMO class.
Wet track conditions existed for the 20-minute GT/GTA qualifying session. Eversely went to the top of the charts with a 1:27.990 and then shortly after that set what would be the fastest lap of the session with a 1:23.434. It was Eversley's first career Pirelli World Challenge pole and first for Acura's new TLX-GT program in the GT class.
GT points leader coming into St. Petersburg, Kevin Estre (#9 K-PAX/McLaren 650S GT3) started second on the grid with a fast lap of 1:23.956. Rounding out the top five on the grid were Ryan Dalziel (#31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO/Porsche 911 GT3R) with a 1:24.934, followed by James Davison (# 33 AE/ReplayXD/Nissan Nismo GT-R GT3) with a 1:25.172, and Robert Thorne (#6 K-PAX McLaren 650S GT3) with a 1:25.429.
"It's actually really funny how things work out," said Eversley. "The grid for the qualifying session was set based on yesterday's practice session which was literally a two-lap shootout." Thursday's 30-min practice session was shortened by and accident. The cleanup took approximately 25 min of the session.
"So we went out and we had the game plan to go slow on the out lap so we could get one or two flyers," added Eversley. "On our first lap, we went into Turn 1 and Frankie (Montecalvo) went wide and I got by him and I just put my head down and I knew that that would be the one time that I would get no traffic whatsoever and just went as hard as I could. It started raining harder as the qualifying session went on and that just made everybody else go slower. How do you thank the guy that gave you a two-lap session the day before, but it really worked out. We showed good pace in the wet at Circuit of the Americas. So we knew if it rained today we knew we would be pretty strong. It's a true testiment to what everybody at RealTime, Acura/Acura Motorsports, and HPD have done developing the car. Happy Birthday Dad! I got you a pole!"
The #30 MOMO Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia piloted by Henrique Cisneros stalled on the starting line, creating a pile up behind him and bringing out a full-course caution at the start of Lap 1 of the timed 50-min race. Thompson’s car was damaged as part of the accident.
Dalziel passed Estre at the start and ran second under the caution. Johnny O’Connell (#3 Cadillac Racing ATS-VR GT3) circulated in fourth.
Green flag competition started again with 25 min left. O’Connell jumped Estre on the rolling restart to take third. He didn’t hold if for long though, Mike Skeen (#2 DeVillbis/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra) passing him at speed to take the position.
A full-course caution came out 11:45 when Heitkotter was hit from behind by Eric Lux and crashed out. Eversley led Dalziel, Skeen, O’Connell, and Estre under the yellow, with the race concluding in that order without further green-flag racing. Michael Lewis (#41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3) won GTA and Phil Fogg Jr. (#18 Zorro Racing) GT Cup.