Estre wins Pirelli World Challenge race on Belle Isle

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit – Kevin Estre ended Johnny O'Connell's dominance on Belle Isle in the Pirelli World Challenge series Saturday morning, winning the Cadillac V Series Detroit Grand Prix.

Estre, making his first start on the island, topped the GT field in his No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3 in a 50-minute, caution-free event, beating series points leader Olivier Beretta by 9.6 seconds. It was his third win of the season.

Beretta, who won the pole earlier in the morning in the No. 61 Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, continues to hold on to the lead in the fight for the series championship with Race No. 2 set for Sunday.

Chris Dyson also earned a spot on the podium (third-place) in the No. 16 Bentley GT3.O'Connell finished fourth in his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-VR GT3.

O'Connell swept last season's two races on the island and had won four of the previous five events in Chevrolet's headquarters in the background.

Beretta's little miscue on Lap 2 enabled Estre to slip by and then lead the rest of the way.

"He made a small mistake on (Turn) 8 and got a bit out of line and then somehow I got a really good exit out of 10 and could pass him," said Estre of his pass on Beretta. "Then, I think we had a really good car so I was able to put a gap (on the field). We were a bit faster than everybody else."

Beretta was pleased with having a caution-free race.

"We had a really good race, no yellow, no contact, nice clean fight and the championship is very competitive with good drivers and good teams," Beretta said.

Dyson started seventh.

"It's so competitive, the quality of the top eight guys in the series is just unbelievable, racing is so ferocious and you have to fight for every square inch out there," Dyson said.

"I think it's a testament to all the hard work the series has done to try to make all the cars balanced, as you can see they are considerably different, but really the lap times, there was nothing between the top four guys. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Points leader Henrique Cisneros won his first race of the season in the GTA division in the No. 30 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.

"I finally got the big monkey off my back," said Cisneros of earning his first win of the season. "The race went very well. It was smooth sailing from the beginning."