Kay van Berlo (Netherlands living in Miami, Florida) earned his third-straight Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands victory of the season today at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Pro class points leader raced from the overall pole position to the win in the No. 3 Kelly Moss Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car. In the Pro-Am class, Alan Metni (Austin, Texas) added to the Kelly Moss tally with his second win of the 2022 season in the premier one-make race series. Wright Motorsports driver John Goetz (Weston, Connecticut) piloted the No. 57 to the Am class win in Round 3 of the 16 race series. Round 4 will close out the Long Beach, California weekend on Sunday, April 10.
Despite ambient temperatures being nearly 20-degrees Fahrenheit lower than Friday’s practice day, the heat stayed high at the front of the Pro class grid in today’s 40-minute race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit in Southern California. Van Berlo brought the 32-car grid down to the green flag with Trenton Estep (San Antonio, Texas) in the No. 6 MDK Motorsports Porsche. Joined by Riley Dickinson (New Braunfels, Texas) in the No. 53 Kelly Moss machine and No. 58 Topp Racing Porsche of TJ Fischer (Vacaville, California), the Pro class was a battle each green flag lap. Estep would be forced into a runoff lane falling into the pack early. On his fight back to the front, he would be involved in an incident at the famous Long Beach “Hairpin” final corner, which would end his day as well as the No. 81 ACI Motorsports Porsche of Grant Talkie (Sarasota, Florida).
The issue in the hairpin would include more cars when the leaders completed the lap. When the Kelly Moss teammates crossed a line of fluid at the apex of the hairpin, both spun, others would follow. Van Berlo was able to execute a pirouette and maintain the lead. Dickinson, close behind him, who was closer to the wall when he spun, took longer to return to the pace and fell to sixth-position. A short green period left most cars in the same order before a yellow would fall again. Unable to clear the track in time, Round 3 of the championship finished under caution with van Berlo leading the No. 9 JDX Racing Porsche of Parker Thompson (Canada), the No. 58 of Fischer, the McCann Racing No. 8 of Michael McCann (Canton, Ohio) and the No. 11 Deluxe 311RS Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Dimitri Dimakos (Chicago, Illinois) rounding out the top-five. Van Berlo extends his points lead over Thompson with a second 40-minute race scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Van Berlo will start from pole position in race two. He set the fastest race lap with a time of one-minute, 19.660. It was his second sub-1:20 lap making him the only driver in the field to break that barrier.
Metni captured his second win of the season having taken the first Pro-Am class victory of the season in Round 1 at the Sebring season opener. His primary protagonist in the Pro-Am points battle, Kelly Moss teammate Efrin Castro (Dominican Republic) in the No. 65, suffered a first lap end to his race when the pink and black Porsche was forced up onto the curbing surrounding the fountain corner. Castro became high-centered but was able to extricate himself. However, the damage was great enough that he was unable to continue. The 2021 Pro-Am class champion would finish 32nd today. Jeff Mosing (Austin, Texas) chased Metni across the line in the No. 56 Topp Racing Porsche. Curt Swearingin (Chattanooga, Tennessee) raced the No. 17 ACI Motorsports machine to a third-place finish in class.
Wright Motorsports returned to the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Am class victory circle with John Goetz (Weston, Connecticut) in the No. 57. Bill Smith (Dallas, Texas) put the Topp Racing No. 42 in second-place with Robert Hanley (Foxfield, Colorado) giving JDX a second podium on the day with a third-place in the Am class.
To the point.
Van Berlo padded his points lead with the win and fastest race lap in Race 1. The 2021 Pro class runner-up entered with 55 points – 17 over Dickinson – but enters Round 4 with a total of 85 markers. An additional 25 for the win, four for the two pole positions and one for fastest race lap. By virtue of his second-place finish, Thompson gains one spot moving into second-place in the points with 54.
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