March 16, 2016
St. Petersburg, FL – Preston Calvert marked his best finish in Pirelli World Challenge competition with a third place run to his first podium on Saturday in St. Petersburg, repeating the feat a day later in the No. 77 GT Cup Calvert Dynamics Porsche from Phoenix Performance. Teammate Andrew Davis brought home two top ten finishes in a strong GT field, adding important points for his full-season program in the No. 76 entry.
Coming into the weekend, Calvert had put in strong performances on street circuits in 2015, running both the Porsche as well as a GTS Mustang, logging track time and laps. On Saturday, the sophomore World Challenge driver capitalized when others made mistakes, while on Sunday Calvert was able to pass for third on the start and ultimately finished there.
“The biggest difference from last year’s event was my comfort level with the car and the circuit, and that makes it possible to drive it more quickly and consistently in race conditions,” Calvert said.
“I was able to use some small setup changes in the car to drive more quickly, so overall I was about 1.5 seconds quicker this weekend than last year. That allowed me to be more competitive, and I was able to capitalize on a mistake by a competitor in the first race to capture third place and hold on to the finish. In Sunday’s second race, there was an opportunity to make a first turn pass to move into third position.
“I was unfortunately caught up in a large accident among several GT competitors in turn one later in the race that damaged the right front suspension of my car, but by rule I finished third,” Calvert added. “I was glad that my fellow driver Corey Fergus was uninjured in a heavy crash during the race. That was a big concern for us all, but his Porsche protected him from serious injury.”
Spearheading the Calvert Dynamics GT program in the Porsche GT3R, Davis survived two competitive and aggressive Pirelli World Challenge street races that saw plenty of contested real estate between the concrete barriers of the St. Petersburg, Florida street circuit. Doing his own form of double-duty, Davis continues to serve as Calvert’s driving coach.
“It’s hard to express how proud I am to see Preston finally achieve his goal of standing on the PWC podium,” said Davis. “That has been our focus since he began this adventure in his #77 Porsche GT3 Cup, and to accomplish the task so early in the 2016 season really speaks to the effort his is putting into his driving.
“However, racing on street circuits is more like a cage match with contact dominating most of the mid-pack racing. We showed some great improvements in pace during qualifying missing out on the top spot by just a couple of tenths of a second, yet the competitiveness of the Pirelli World Challenge field meant that was only good enough for the inside of the fourth row,” Davis continued.
“We are still in the process of trying to optimize the performance of our new car, but I spent more time playing bumper cars than I would prefer. In the end we were able to come away with two top 10 finishes in addition to many lessons learned. I’m confident that we will have an even faster car for our next event at the Long Beach Grand Prix, a race that I’ve wanted to compete in since I was a little boy.”
Next up for Davis is the GT-only race on the famous Long Beach circuit in Southern California, April 15-17, with a quick turnaround as the team goes back to its two-car form at Barber Motorsports Park, April 22-24.
Both of the team’s cars were prepared by the Joe Aquilante-led Phoenix Performance, with Andrew Aquilante and Kurt Rezzetano on staff. Of note are crew chief Marshall Mast on the No. 77 and senior technician Jason van Schooten.
“They had my car in the best possible condition for every session,” Calvert noted.
Read the full press release here.