Salinas, CA – The return of Andrew Aquilante and Kurt Rezzetano to Calvert Dynamics in Pirelli World Challenge resulted in two victories in the SprintX GTS class at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to close out the team’s pro season for the year. Preston Calvert and Michael Lewis were competitive in SprintX in the GT category, coming off their own double victory in Utah in the No. 98 Porsche 911 GT3 R, while Lewis also ran in GT and Aquilante finished second in GTS in a Phoenix Ford Mustang Boss 302.
It was a return to a larger team program for Phoenix Performance at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as the team had also run three cars earlier in the season.
Aquilante and Rezzetano, both Championship contenders in 2015, took center stage for Calvert Dynamics in their return to competition in the No. 37 Ford Mustang Boss 302, taking victories in both hour-long SprintX races, which feature a driver change mid-way through the race.
“The SprintX races were great,” said Aquilante. “It brings the whole team back into the race, as we made a last minute decision to change a front tire in the first race and duplicated that with some more preparation for the second race. We had some battles during both races. It felt similar to last year as battles were with Aston Martins and a Porsche so the racing wasn’t too different.”
Rezzetano added: “The key to winning both races was having a really fast car and an equally fast co-driver. We both made sure that we saved the car in our opening stints. The decision for the tire change during my opening stint in the first race turned out to be the right one. It gave us the edge we needed to pass the Cayman and keep pulling away from the Aston Martin.”
Keeping the pace up, Aquilante finished second in the 50-minute GTS sprint race, but not without drama as he fell back in the pack early in the race.
“I thought the race was over when the car dropped a cylinder early, but Kurt called over the radio to try shutting everything off and back on,” Aquilante explained. “Everything came back to 100 percent and I started my charge back to the front. While we had speed over the course of one lap, the lighter GT4 was easier on its tires and at the end I just didn’t have enough to make a move.”
After a mid-season move to Calvert Dynamics, Lewis was looking to return to victory lane in GT, only to see his hopes dashed with an opening lap incident in Sunday’s finale race.
“For the GT qualifying and race, things didn’t go our way as we didn’t maximize qualifying. It was partly on me, and so when the race began on Sunday, we were right in the middle of the pack where all the chaos usually is held. I had a great start and moved up at least three positions. However, I was hit off the track in the corkscrew by another competitor who lost his brakes on that same opening lap. From that moment on, we had to make a quick pit stop to change a flat left rear tire and then rebound back to finish 11th. The car was fast; we were just unlucky in the race,” said Lewis.
Adding to his drive-time for the weekend, Lewis also partnered once again with Calvert in both SprintX GT one-hour races.
“On the Sprint X side of things, my teammate Preston drove very well. Together, we brought the car home in fifth for Sprint X Race 1 which was really great,” said Lewis.
The car was also on the pole for race two, as the original pole sitter couldn’t make the start of the race. From the start, Lewis opened a gap and it was looking like it could be the third SprintX victory in four starts for the Lewis/Calvert pairing. However, on lap seven, the car lost all power and that was the end of the race for the No. 98.
After running last year in the team’s GT Cup Porsche, Calvert was ready for a strong weekend in the GT3-R.
“My start in the SprintX race on Saturday was fairly good, as I was able to pass one of the cars ahead of me around Turn 2, even though a Viper sneaked by from behind as well, to leave me even in the running order,” Calvert said. “I had some back and forth racing with two other GT3-R’s, eventually getting by both of them, to sit in 7th place toward the end of my stint. I was closing on the 6th place car, an Audi R8, at about a second a lap. Just before the driver change time window was about to open, a GTS class Aston Martin spun right in front of me at the exit of high speed Turn 6, after dropping all four wheels off the exit on driver’s right. As the car spun back across the track from right to left, I had just enough room to pass around him to driver’s left, as I remembered from our track walk that there is paving outside the track surface limits on that side. A red flag was called due to track obstruction, and after the stoppage, I was able to pit and hand the car over to Lewis who finished fifth.”
Lewis took the time to note his mid-season move to Calvert, and looks forward to a future with the team.
“I hope to be able again work with everyone on this No. 98 in the future. It has been an interesting second half of the season, and we all put our heart and soul in the No. 98 Porsche and in our work to go for the best results we could. Thank you to my partners, friends, and family for being with us through the highs and lows of this year. Literally, without these people, this season wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you to Preston Calvert for his contributions and his friendship. Thank you to Stefan Pfeiffer, Dave and Erin Gahagan, Mark Woodworth, Kurt Rezzetano, Andrew and Joe Aquilante and all at Calvert Dynamics,” Lewis added.