PWC: Beretta, Estre lead winners in opening COTA weekend

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The Pirelli World Challenge got its 2015 season off and running this weekend at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. Some quick recaps below…

GT, GTA, GT Cup presented by MOMO

The marquee GT class witnessed both a last lap pass and a crushing performance in the two races.

Saturday’s Round 1 saw Olivier Beretta pull a sneaky but brilliant over/under move on Ryan Dalziel on the second-to-last lap exiting the final corner. Although Dalziel was briefly ahead, Beretta made the winning pass up the hill into Turn 1 to seal the win in the season opener.

The Ferrari led home Dalziel’s Porsche and Johnny O’Connell, the three-time defending series champion, to deliver the new Cadillac ATS-V.R a podium in its worldwide race debut.

Polesitter Nick Catsburg finished a hard luck 10th following a drive-through penalty issued for exceeding track limits.

Sunday’s Round 2 saw Kevin Estre utterly crush the field from start to finish. The Frenchman won by more than 30 seconds in the rain-drenched 50-minute race over Dalziel, to give the new McLaren 650S GT3 its first win in worldwide competition.

Catsburg finished third on Sunday. Besides Estre, a fellow driver with his last name starting with E impressed. Ryan Eversley posted a stellar 25th to fifth drive in the all-wheel drive Acura TLX-GT.

Michael Lewis (GTA) and Colin Thompson (GT Cup presented by MOMO) swept the weekend in their respective classes. Beretta joked after Saturday’s race that he felt “very young” flanked in the interview session by the two youngsters.

Unofficially Estre will lead Dalziel in the points, but it’s early days yet with only 2 of 20 races complete. St. Petersburg, the end of March, is next up.


The GTS races were split off from the GT/GTA/GT Cup races and featured two different winners, neither of whom was a GTS regular in 2014.

Kris Wilson, a last-minute fill-in for teammate Max Riddle, took Saturday’s opening race in his Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Riddle was ill and Wilson, his veteran co-driver in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, filled in nicely.

Meanwhile in Sunday’s rainy Round 2, Michael Cooper posted an impressive drive from ninth to first in two laps, to take the lead and ultimately the win in his Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R. Cooper is a past Touring Car champion and this marked his first GTS win.


The Touring Car classes got their seasons off and running with a triple header.

Cody Ellsworth, another rising star and late entry addition, took the first two TC wins (Porsche Cayman) with Vesko Kozarov, a further late entry (only added after his GTS car had problems) took the win on Sunday in his Nissan Altima coupe.

Tony Rivera (Scion FR-S) won the opening two TCA rounds with last year’s class champion Jason Wolfe (Kia Forte Koup) winning race three on Sunday.

Johan Schwartz made it look easy in TCB with a weekend sweep of the three races.

GTS will run next at St. Petersburg, while the TC classes are off until Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in May.

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead


With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.

In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list