• NOLAPerfect. Porsche Customer Earns Sweep of SRO GT4 America SprintX. • Texas Two Step. Wright Motorsports Porsche Earns Twin Victories in Austin. • Super Juniors. Porsche Juniors and Teams Ready for New Supercup Season. • New Opener. Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Opens Season at St. Pete for First Time.
Event Story Lines.
NOLAPerfect. Porsche Customer Earns Sweep of SRO GT4 America SprintX.
It is not often a team sweeps every race in every class it enters on a weekend but that is exactly how NOLASPORT opened the 2020 SRO GT4 America SprintX season. The New Orleans-based team entered Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport race cars in both the Pro-Am and Am classes at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), March 6 – 8, and left with the winner’s hardware in each. It was a perfect weekend for the No. 47 Pro/Am class entry of Texan’s Matt Travis and Jason Hart as well as their Amateur (Am) class teammates, Zac Anderson and Sean Gibbons in the No. 7 mid-engine Porsche race car.
Saturday’s 60-minute race was a podium sweep for the German sports car manufacturer with the No. 37 RS1 Porsche – driven by Charlie Belluardo and Jan Heylen – finishing in second-place overall and in the Pro/Am class. Third-place overall and in Pro/Am went to Black Swan Racing’s Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR shared by Jeroen Bleekemolen and Tim Pappas. The pole-sitting GMG Porsche raced by Andrew Davis and Jason Bell finished in fourth-place of the Pro/Am class, fifth-place overall. The third-place position in the Am category went to the TRG Porsche of James Rappaport and Derek DeBoer. Sunday’s SprintX race two not only saw NOLASPORT repeat winners but the No. 37 RS1 car again podiumed taking third-place in Pro/Am, fifth-overall.
In the 50-minute GT4 America Sprint Championship, Spencer Pumpelly was the quickest Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in the single-driver format event. The Atlanta, Georgia-resident returned to the No. 66 entry of longtime Porsche customer program TRG to contest for the season-long drivers’ title. He earned a second-place finish in the Pro class for Saturday’s event and narrowly missed a podium on Sunday by a mere 0.017-seconds at the checkered flag.
The SRO GT4 America Sprint championship moves immediately to St. Petersburg for Rounds 3 and 4 on the streets of the Florida city. Practice begins on Friday, March 13 with Race 1 scheduled for Saturday, March 14 and Race 2 on Sunday, March 15. SprintX will not race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course. The two-driver format will return April 17 – 19 on the grandfather of American street courses, the Grand Prix of Long Beach in California.
Zac Anderson, Driver, No. 7 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“I want to give a huge shout out to the guys at NOLASPORT. They prepped an incredible car this weekend. It's just been so comfortable to drive our No. 7 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. So easy to drive. For my first weekend in a paddock like this, I'm over the moon excited and happy. I'll forever be grateful for these guys and my teammate Sean Gibbons. I think we're going to have a really good season. I can feel the support and everyone reaching out through social media. It's just been such a cool ride and something that I will never forget.
Sean Gibbons, Driver, No. 7 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“What an amazing weekend in our OGH Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. The NOLASPORT crew did a great job, the car was great all weekend. Zac did a tremendous job; he did exactly what we needed him to do. You know, race one. I started and needed to get past the Audi driven by Alex Welds to put us in first and then turn the car over to Zac and he drove it home. Race 2 was a bit of a bigger battle for us. Zac did an awesome job, built a nice gap to the Audi. In our pit stop, we had a bit of an issue with the driver change that held us up about 10 or 15 extra seconds and that put the Audi right on my bumper by the end of the race. The Audi got by with one lap to go. I got back by him on the final lap to bring home the checkered flag. Two first-place finishes… we can't really ask for much more than that!”
Texas Two Step. Wright Motorsports Porsche Earns Twin Victories in Austin.
Three Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars made their presence known at the SRO GT World Challenge America season-opening round at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas with each earning at least one podium finish. But it was the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of rookie GT3-spec drivers Fred Poordad and Max Root that danced their way to the top step of the Am class podium… twice. The No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – shared by David Ducote and Alan Metni – finished second to Wright in the Am class on both days. It was California-based GMG Racing that had the best overall result of the GT weekend. James Sofronas and Jeroen Bleekemolen took top-honors in the Pro/Am class with the No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R in Saturday’s Race 1 from pole position.
Despite damage to the car before qualifying which forced the Ohio-based Wright team to start at the back of the field in both 90-minute races, Poordad/Root took the victories and the top-spot in the Am point standings leaving the 20-turn, 3.426-mile (5.513-km).
The SRO GT World Challenge America will now go on a short hiatus before traveling north of the border to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), May 15 – 17 for Rounds 3 and 4 of the championship.
Fred Poordad, Driver, No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“The weekend did not go the way we wanted to start it. I did a little unnecessary impact testing first out-lap of qualifying. So, we were unable to qualify and started last on the grid. We clawed our way back up to seventh-overall and the Am class win. So, not a bad start I think, for the season. Could have been worse, could have been better. At least we know what our potential is for the rest of the season. Looking forward to better performances to come.”
Max Root, Driver, No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Good way to finish off a pretty troubling day. Unfortunately, we didn't get to qualify but I think we were able to bring it home. I want to thank everyone at Wright Motorsports for getting it all together and getting us out there.”
Super Juniors. Porsche Juniors and Teams Ready for New Supercup Season.
The two 2020 Porsche Juniors Jaxon Evans (New Zealand) and Ayhancan Güven (Turkey) have found the race teams they will be driving for in the upcoming Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup season. Evans has been announced as driver for Lechner Racing (Austria), with Güven driving for the French squad Martinet by Alméras. For both young drivers, this marks their second season in the international one-make cup, which is contested as support to European Formula 1 events. The youngsters receive funding valued at $250,000 USD (225,000 Euros) and mentoring from the former Porsche factory driver Sascha Maassen as well as media seminars, mental coaching and sports medicine support.
Evans joined the Porsche Motorsport Junior Program at the beginning of 2019. This season, the 23-year-old will race under the supervision of the Austrian team Lechner Racing. The squad has won the Supercup team championship title for the last six years and also produced the overall driver champion for the last four race seasons. At the final round of the 2019 Supercup in Mexico, Evans scored a podium result, and concluded the season ranking seventh overall. Over and above his Supercup commitments, the native of New Zealand and resident of Stuttgart, Germany will contest selected rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup France. Moreover, he will tackle some of the Nürburgring endurance championship races to gain experience on the legendary Nordschleife.
The new Porsche Junior Ayhancan Güven also made his debut last year in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Right up until the final round in Mexico City, the 22-year-old was a hot contender for the title. Ultimately, he finished in second-place overall and took home the rookie championship title. This season, Güven returns to make a renewed bid for the title with the Martinet by Alméras team from France. He will also contest the Porsche Carrera Cup France this season. The highlight of the one-make cup is the joint race with the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland as part of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Like Evans, Güven will also tackle selected events of the Nürburgring endurance championship.
Traditionally, the successful junior development program has played an important role at Porsche. Since 1997, the German automobile manufacturer has supported talented youngsters on their journey to becoming professional racing drivers. From the current squad of “works” driver and Young Professionals, Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Matt Campbell (Australia), Michael Christensen (Denmark), Mathieu Jaminet (France), Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), Sven Müller (Germany), Julien Andlauer (France) and Thomas Preining (Austria) completed their training in the Porsche Motorsport Junior Program before moving into the factory positions.
The 2020 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup season kicks off with the first round of the European Formula 1 season at the Circuit Zandvoort in the Netherlands, March 1 – 3.
Oliver Schwab, Project Manager, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
“Anyone who performs well in the top-class field of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup is well prepared for a career as a professional race driver. Many top international talents took the decisive career step in the Supercup and then went on to become works drivers. We’re pleased that the two ambitious racers Jaxon Evans and Ayhancan Güven joined our strong grid line-up again this year.”
Jaxon Evans, Driver, Lechner Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“2020 will be an exciting year for me. I’m happy to compete for one of the best teams in Supercup history and fight for the championship with them. I hope our time together will be successful.”
Ayhancan Güven, Driver, Martinet by Alméras Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“We were really successful as a team last year so I’m sure that it’s a good decision to keep working in this constellation. I’ve used the winter break to prepare intensively and I can hardly wait for the season to start.”
New Opener. Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Opens Season at St. Pete for First Time.
What do you get when you mix iconic, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars, legendary racing circuits, up-and-coming racing stars and accomplished sportsman race car drivers? You get the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. Sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), the series opens its 16th season of competition this weekend, March 13-15, with its inaugural visit to the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Florida). As is the case at all eight stops on the 2020 GT3 Cup Challenge USA schedule, the series will contest a pair of one-make, 45-minute, single-driver sprint races on the weekend.
After practice and qualifying sessions Thursday and Friday, the first race of the weekend – and the season – rolls off the grid at 9:45 a.m. ET Saturday morning. The second half of the weekend doubleheader starts at 11:10 a.m. ET Sunday. Each race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv, with television coverage airing on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 26.
The series consists two classes of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars – Platinum Cup, for current-generation models, and Gold Cup, which were race cars built between 2014 and 2016. All cars ride on Yokohama racing slicks. All cars are based on the production 911 GT3 road car.
Within Platinum Cup is a subclass for drivers 45 years of age and older called “Platinum Masters.” The class uses the same 911 GT3 Cup machinery as standard Platinum class, but all Masters cars are required to use an Antilock Braking System (ABS).
Piloting these cars is a terrific mix of next-generation sports car driving stars and sportsman drivers who have enjoyed success in other walks of life and are following their own passion for motorsport. For some, the GT3 Cup Challenge USA is a destination series.
For others – like recent series graduates-turned-IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors Roman De Angelis, Zacharie Robichon, Trenton Estep, Daniel Morad, Michael De Quesada and Christina Nielsen – the GT3 Cup Challenge USA is something of a “finishing school” prior to the big show.
So… who should be among the top contenders on the season-opening weekend and the 2020 season?
Seventeen-year-old Riley Dickinson certainly fits the profile. The teenager from New Braunfels, Texas is returning to the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche after a scintillating rookie season in the Platinum Cup class in 2019.
Dickinson finished third in the season championship standings, buoyed by seven podium results in the 16-race season, including his first career victory in the penultimate round of the season at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. In January, Dickinson was awarded the prestigious IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship after participating in the annual a four-driver North American Porsche Young Driver Academy last November at Barber Motorsports Park.
However, Dickinson undoubtedly will have his hands full this weekend and throughout the season with some stiff competition. For that, one needs to look no further than Kelly-Moss Road and Race, which fielded champions in both Platinum Cup and Platinum Masters and has four cars on this weekend’s entry list. Alan Metni scored his second consecutive Platinum Masters championship last season in the No. 99 AM Motorsports/Kelly-Moss Porsche with eight class victories. He also scored a career-best second-place overall result at Road America and finished fifth in the 2019 Platinum Cup standings. He could be tough to beat in his fourth season of GT3 Cup Challenge competition. In addition to Metni, the team’s Platinum Cup lineup includes the No. 48 Porsche for David Brule and an as-yet-unnamed driver in the No. 26 entry. Kelly-Moss also will run perennial Gold Cup front-runner Kurt Fazekas in the No. 52 Porsche.
There also is the four-car armada from JDX Racing, which won the 2018 Platinum Cup title. Shaun McAlister, the 2019 IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship recipient, is back for his second season with the JDX team in the No. 11 Porsche. He finished sixth in the 2019 season standings.
The Colorado-based team also will field the No. 3 entry for Canadian Ethan Simioni, who won the 2018 Canadian Touring Car Championship GT class and finished on the podium in both of his two Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama starts in 2019. JDX also is running the No. 33 Porsche for Irishman Reece Barr and the No. 77 for Preston Calvert. Barr is moving over to GT3 Cup Challenge USA competition from the uber-competitive German Porsche Carrera Cup series, while Calvert won the 2019 Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Am championship.
Another one to watch in Platinum Cup will be Puerto Rico’s Sebastian Carazo, who is moving up after dominating the 2019 Gold Cup class to the tune of 12 victories and podiums in all 16 races. He’s driving the No. 27 NGT Motorsport entry.
In the Platinum Masters class, look for Metni to be challenged by the likes of Calvert and Brule, Charlie Luck in the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche, Danny Hardee, Vernon McClure Jr. and Tampa’s own Tom Kerr with TPC Racing, Bart Collins with MCR Racing and Jeff Mosing, David Baker and Bill Smith with Topp Racing.
The Gold Cup class will be up for grabs with Carazo out of the picture. Top competitors in that class include Fazekas, ACI Motorsports drivers Curt Swearingin and Richard Edge, TPC’s Efrin Castro and MCR’s Michael Mennella.
For more on GT3 Cup Challenge USA and all things IMSA, please visit IMSA.com or download the IMSA Mobile App.
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Series Hashtags and Handles.
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