• Christensen Podium Pair. Works Driver Takes Second and Third in PWC Races in Canada. • Memorial Day Tradition. Porsche Customer Teams Triple for PWC SprintX at Lime Rock. • American Le Mans. Black Swan Partners with Proton and Long at 24 Hour.
Event Story Lines.
Christensen Podium Pair. Works Driver Takes Second and Third in PWC Races in Canada.
Porsche factory driver Michael Christensen (Denmark) was the top Porsche finisher in both the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) on May 19 and 20. Christensen drove the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to a second-place finish in the first 50-minute feature on Saturday in changing weather conditions. He followed that on a sunny Sunday with a third-place result on the fast 2.458-mile road course. Canadian Scott Hargrove entered the weekend with the overall GT class points lead of the PWC Sprint Championship, and finished in fourth and fifth-place respectively at the Bowmanville, Ontario track.
Race 1 on Saturday was delayed to late afternoon after fog and rain closed the track to competition. Once started, all the GT3-spec cars were on rain tires with a drying track. Christensen, who has now scored podium finishes in the last three PWC events, and most of the field remained on the treaded rubber for the duration of the 50-minute event, as there is no mandatory pit stop in the sprint format. That would play into the final laps as the No. 24 911 GT3 R chased down the leading Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Daniel Morad (Canada). The two know each other well, as they won the Rolex 24 At Daytona together in the Alegra Porsche in 2017. Burning through the tires, Morad, a Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate, was able to hold-off Christensen but not without a heated battle throughout much of the race. Hargrove, also a Porsche Young Driver Academy grad, followed in fourth-place in the Pro class, just ahead of his primary championship rival Toni Vilander (Finland).
A pair of pit stops in Race 1 would determine the finishing order in Race 2. In Saturday’s race, the pair of factory-supported Bentley Continental GT3 racecars, out of contention in the race, gambled on a strategy to benefit them on Sunday by stopping to put on racing slicks. As the track dried, the team cars turned the fastest race laps and, as a result, started one-two on the grid for Race 2 on Sunday. They were never seriously challenged for the win while Christensen and Hargrove charged behind. The Dane took third-place in the Pro class, fourth overall, defending against Hargrove, who finished fifth in the GT Pro class, sixth-overall. The Canadian, whose mother gave the command to start engines, lost points to Toni Vilander in the second-place Bentley, who was just ahead of Christensen at the checkered flag.
Memorial Day Tradition. Porsche Customer Teams Triple for PWC SprintX at Lime Rock.
The Memorial Day holiday has long been the traditional highpoint weekend for motorsports. The Indianapolis 500 will have its 102nd “Sweepstakes”, NASCAR will run its longest race, 600-miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Formula One will bask in the glory of the streets of Monaco and the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) will run twin 60-minute races at Lime Rock Park. Nine Porsche customer programs have entered both SprintX Championship events at the Lakeville, Connecticut-area track, Rounds 5 and 6, scheduled for Monday, May 28. The three Porsche 911 GT3 Rs in the GT SX class and five Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs in the GTS SX category represent a tripling of Porsche Motorsport-built racers in North America’s foremost sprint championship for GT cars over the most recent round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The No. 24 Alegra Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R earned a third-place finish in the most recent SprintX round at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) and a pair of podiums in the Sprint race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). The Tampa, Florida-based effort will again field Porsche factory ace Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia) in search of their first win in PWC. Pfaff Motorsports brings Scott Hargrove (Canada) and Wolf Henzler (Germany) to the battle on the 1.5-mile, seven-turn road course. The No. 96 Porsche 911 GT3 R earned second-place in both Rounds 3 and 4 at VIR and opened the season with two victories for Hargrove on the St, Petersburg, Florida street course. Black Swan Racing, which announced its entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June last week, will campaign the No. 54 911 GT3 R in SprintX with team principal/driver Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (Belgium) at Lime Rock.
In the GTS SX class for GT4-spec machines, four Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs will attempt to replicate the pair of 2017 victories earned by the mid-engine Porsche. Pfaff Motorsports continues to contest every round in both the Sprint and SprintX championships with the No. 13 being shared by Canadians Orey Fidani and Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate Kyle Marcelli. NOLAsport has a pair of Texans in the No. 47 with Matt Travis, of The Woodlands, and Jason Hart, Flower Mound, behind the wheel. The NOLAsport operation also brings the No. 32 to the Lime Rock “Bullring” with Keith Jensen (Dorado, Puerto Rico) and a second driver to be named. Sharing the No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports America Cayman will be Efrin Castro (Palisades Park, New Jersey) and Moritz Kranz (Germany). TRG’s familiar blue and yellow livery again adorns the No. 66 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR of Derek DeBoer (Ashland, Oregon) and Sean Gibbons (Argyle, Texas) in Connecticut.
The unique nature of Lime Rock’s agreement with the community will keep the engines quiet on Sunday requiring both Rounds 5 and 6 of the ten-round championship within a championship to be run on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28. It is the only time that both races of both classes run on a single day. Practice and qualifying for both will be held on Friday while practice alone will be run on Saturday.
Americans at Le Mans. Black Swan Partners with Proton and Long at 24 Hour.
Following a career-long ambition for team owner and driver Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts), Black Swan Racing announced their first venture at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, partnering with the renowned Proton Competition. Featuring an All-American lineup in the LMGTE-Am category, Pappas will make his Le Mans debut with veterans, Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia) and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California).
Joining forces with Proton Competition, Pappas and Black Swan will enter the famed endurance race with one of the best teams in European sportscar racing. Veterans of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and long-time Porsche competitors, Proton has a not only a previous win at Le Mans, but also multiple series championships, all in Porsche machinery.
Headlining the lineup, Long will join the team as a two-time class winner (2005, 2007) of the endurance classic. Long last teamed with Black Swan Racing and Pappas in 2016, where the team came within seconds of a class victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Still searching for his first Le Mans victory, Pumpelly will round out the lineup as a veteran of not only Le Mans but also a proven winner in GT racing. Pumpelly’s résumé includes two class-wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona (2006, 2011), a championship in the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge and wins at some of America’s most renowned endurance races including Petit Le Mans and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Tim Pappas, Owner/Driver, Black Swan Racing.
“This has been a long sought-after opportunity, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of such a strong program. Putting together an All-American lineup isn’t just something I wanted to do from a pure PR standpoint. I’m fortunate to have two teammates that are some of the best in the business, which I wouldn’t compromise on. Spencer is one of the best sports car drivers in the U.S., and with his Le Mans experience he should slot in well, and of course Patrick Long’s reputation speaks for itself. Between the two of them, we should have a wealth of knowledge coming in, and with the support of Proton Competition we have an excellent program headed in to June. I’m really appreciative of not only everyone within the organization, but of course Porsche Motorsport as well.”
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR.
“It’s an honor to return to Le Mans with this program. Obviously the All-American lineup is something that should be pretty unique, but it’s also a lineup that should be very competitive. I’ve had a lot of experience with Proton Competition and know the quality of their program, so I have a lot of faith in the machinery, but Tim should be solid given his experience and Spencer Pumpelly is one of the best in the business. I’m thankful to everyone for putting this together, and excited for the month of June.”
Spencer Pumpelly, Driver, No. 99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR.
“I couldn’t be happier to be back at Le Mans. This program is really strong, and while you never know what to expect, we should be very well prepared. Patrick Long is of course as good as they come, Tim brings a lot of experience, and Proton Competition is one of the highest regarded in the sport. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to be part of such a program, and I appreciate everyone for bringing me in to it.”