• Sprint Challenge North America. USAC-Sanctioned Series Joins Porsche Motorsport One-Make Pyramid. • 2021 Porsche Sprint Challenge by Yokohama Schedule. • Porsche Victory. Porsche Wins Second Consecutive IMSA Race with Tactical Masterstroke. • Geaux Nolasport. Louisiana Race Team Reflects on 2020 SRO GT4 America Title.
Event Story Lines.
Sprint Challenge North America. USAC-Sanctioned Series Joins Porsche Motorsport One-Make Pyramid.
Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) further strengthens its Motorsport Pyramid on the continent with the announcement of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama. Following the September 25 unveiling of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America as the premier one-make championship in the United States and Canada, the new series, which will utilize previous generations Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars and current generation GT4 cars, will take its place as the direct feeder to Carrera Cup beginning in 2021. With the Trophy level being eliminated from the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid North America, this championship breaks new ground for Porsche as the German sports car manufacturer has commissioned the United States Auto Club (USAC) to manage all aspects of the 16-race schedule. Yokohama has been selected as the series official tire partner and presenting sponsor of the Porsche Sprint Challenge. Erik Skirmants has been appointed Series Manager.
The Porsche Sprint Challenge by Yokohama (http://www.porschesprint.com/) will be a stepping stone on the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid North America between the Clubsport/club racing entry stage and the Carrera Cup North America. The series will be broken into three classes: Platinum for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (type 991.2) race cars, Gold for type 991.1 generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars and the Silver Class for the mid-engine Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. Driver and Team Championships will be awarded with the Platinum and Silver Driver Champions being invited the Porsche Night of Champions in Weissach, Germany.
The North American championship is the seventh Sprint Challenge to compete worldwide. The series joins Porsche Sprint Challenge Great Britain, Sprint Challenge Middle East and Asia as well as Porsche Sprint Challenges in the North European Zone, Central Europe and Benelux.
USAC is one of the leading motorsports organizations in the USA with series oversight on many racing fronts including circle track, rally, off-road, snowmobile, karting and youth racing in its portfolio. While widely known as the pinnacle short-track and dirt racing series in the country, USAC previously conducted the United States Road Racing Championship from 1958 – 1962 and makes its return to road racing with the Porsche Sprint Challenge.
The inaugural season of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America will kick-off at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway in March 2021 and hold its finale in October at the iconic and prestigious Indianapolis Motor Speedway – just yards from USAC headquarters in Speedway, Indiana. Eight event venues will offer two races per weekend for competitors. Seven of the eight weekends will count toward the championships in Platinum, Gold and Silver as well as the Team title chase. The Mont Tremblant weekend will not count towards the championship, however, this round hosted at one of Canada’s crown jewel facilities will be a highlight welcoming additional Porsche Sprint Challenge competitors to the series.
Four of the eight event weekends are paired with SRO World Challenge, a USAC-sanctioned series, where customer teams can compete with Porsche 911 GT3 R and Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport race cars. The 911 GT3 R fits as the highest level of Porsche customer racing on the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid in North America. Other event weekends include pairing with IndyCar and IMSA events.
Yokohama, who first partnered with PMNA in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, remains deeply tied to the Porsche one-make concept in North America. The Japanese tire manufacturer will supply spec racing slicks to the Sprint Challenge field.
All racing action will be seen live on FLO Sports, an innovator and leader in streaming live sporting events with a library of over 300,000 hours of premium content, including the home of ECHL and NCAA Division 1 Hockey, US coverage of the Tour de France and the world leader in wrestling coverage. The addition of the Porsche Sprint Challenge will bolster its racing platform which includes nearly 800 live racing events annually.
Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA), founded in 1985, is the only authorized sales, parts and service provider in the United States and Canada for all purpose-built Porsche race cars including the 911 GT3 R, 911 GT3 Cup, Cayman 718 GT4 Clubsport, 911 GT2 RS Clubsport and 935-19. PMNA provides engine and transmission servicing, on-site race support and restoration services for historic Porsche race cars. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG, PMNA is headquartered in 15,000 square feet of the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles.
Daniel Armbruster, President and CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“The addition of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama to the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid continues our effort to offer a clear and competitive path for everyone wishing to race GT cars. We believe that this step provides a place to compete whether you are moving up the steps or want to find a more structured and competitive environment than track days or club racing can provide. Additionally, this gives us the opportunity to continue our long relationship with Yokohama. They have been a tremendous partner and we believe will continue to play an instrumental part in the development of young drivers. We are also pleased to have our first partnership with USAC. They have shown to be the stepping-stone in American open wheel racing for generations and will now play that role in sports car racing. We will have a very busy 2021 and I am excited for Porsche, our partners, customers and fans.”
Erik Skirmants, Series Manager, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“Our goal with the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama is to create a clear first step up from club level racing while establishing a direct path to the new Porsche Carrera Cup North America. The series will be an excellent mix of a destination series for gentlemen drivers as well as a development platform for new drivers. We are taking the best of what we have learned in North America’s prior Challenge and Trophy series, and features of some global Sprint Challenge series to create the best competition environment possible.
A key to success is the choice to have Yokohama as our tire and series partner. We needed world class tires and technical support and Yokohama has always exceeded expectations as a partner. All of this results in the ideal opportunity for USAC to return to road racing and we are pleased that Porsche gets to start this new era with them. All series partners have worked closely with our teams and drivers to build a model with a clear intent to lead the North American market in balancing cost while maintaining a professional racing environment. We are excited to get underway in 2021.”
Kevin Miller, President & CEO, United States Auto Club.
“The United States Auto Club is proud to partner with Porsche and Yokohama Tire to bring the global Porsche Sprint Challenge to North America. USAC has a 65-year heritage in recognizing national championships. We are looking forward to adding the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America champions to our storied list in 2021.”
Andrew Briggs, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management, Yokohama Tire.
“This exciting, new USAC-sanctioned series fits our motorsports strategy perfectly and is an excellent opportunity to continue our longtime partnership with Porsche Motorsport North America. We’re honored to be a part of the inaugural Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama and looking forward to spotlighting our ADVAN® tires next season.”
Learn more about the Porsche Sprint Challenge by Yohohama at http://www.porschesprint.com/ .
2021 Porsche Sprint Challenge by Yokohama Schedule.
Date / Venue
March 12 – 14 / Sebring International Raceway
April 9 – 11 / Barber Motorsport Park
April 30 – May 2 / Circuit of the Americas
June 11 – 13 / VIRginia International Raceway
July 23 – 25 / Mont Tremblant*
July 30 – August 1 / Road America
Sept. 17 – 19 / Watkins Glen International
Oct. 15 – 17 / Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Prelude event, does not count towards 2021 Championship.
Porsche Victory. Porsche Wins Second Consecutive IMSA Race with Tactical Masterstroke.
The Porsche GT Team scored its second consecutive GTLM class win in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Sunday, November 1. In the same race at Monterey, California’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, customer team Wright Motorsports moved into sole ownership of second-place in the GTD class point standings with one race remaining in the season. It was Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 who achieved the first victory for the factory program on the storied Californian racetrack since the “works” team debuted in 2014. The pairing stayed in step with their teammates Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) who won the previous round of the North America’s premier sports car racing championship. The identical ca. 515 hp sister car driven by Tandy/Makowiecki finished in fourth-place. North America’s only Porsche factory driver, Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) teamed with Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) to earn sixth-place in the GTD class with the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
A clever tactic was the key to securing the win after the first triumph on October 17 in the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. With air temperatures of approximately 86-degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and an asphalt temperature of almost 122 F (50C) on the sand-covered course in the dunes of the Monterey Peninsula, the main emphasis was on tire management. During the morning qualifying session, the Porsche GT Team laid the foundation for two different strategies. Vanthoor planted the number 912 car on the second grid spot, while the number 911 entry turned only two laps in qualifying to run-in, or “scrub”, a set of Michelin tires for the race – this long-range strategy, however, cost them a better starting position. The plan was that the vehicle driven by the Petit Le Mans winners Makowiecki and Tandy would make only two pit stops, with Bamber and Vanthoor’s Porsche 911 going all-out and coming in for a service three times.
After the start, Vanthoor retained his second position and took the lead after an early first stop in lap 17. The “undercut” calculated by the team worked perfectly. The Belgian held on to the lead and handed the number 912 car off to Bamber after two swift stints. On the way to the first win for the defending GTLM champions, the New Zealander brought the Porsche 911 RSR across the finish line in first-place. The tactics for the No. 911 Porsche GT Team machine, however, meant that Tandy had virtually no chance on used tires when the race restarted with just 13 minutes left on the clock. The British racer lost third-place. Ultimately, he was only 4.716 seconds from claiming a podium result. However, a post-race inspection found a technical infraction with the No. 4 Corvette dropping it to the back of the standings and the raising the No. 911 machine to a third-place finish in the final scoring.
In the Pro-Am style customer class, Wright Motorsports continued its push for a first WeatherTech GTD class championship. The No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Long and Hardwick finished in sixth-place after Long was involved in a melee not of his own making following the final yellow-flag period. The finish does allow the Ohio-based program to enter the final race of the year in Sebring, Florida holding second-place in the GTD team and driver standings. Wright Motorsports now has the lone full-season Porsche in the privateer class only seven points behind the championship leading Acura.
The second win of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship coincided with Porsche success around the globe. On the same day, the customer team Proton Competition won the title in the European Le Mans Series. This follows not only the German marque’s record-extending 24-class victory at the Petit Le Mans and an October 24 – 25 victory in the 24 Hours of Spa.
The eleventh and final round of the 2020 IMSA season is scheduled for November 14 at the Sebring International Raceway. This will be the 68th edition of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Florida where Porsche is the most successful manufacturer with 18 overall and 72 class victories. It will also mark the final factory outing of the two Porsche 911 RSR in the GTLM class of the North American sports car series. The operation has scored class victories the last two years at Sebring with the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport.
“What a great day for Porsche and the successful customer teams. In the afternoon, Proton Competition claimed the title in the European Le Mans Series, at the same time, the two 911 GT3 R fielded by Herberth Motorsport scored a double podium result in the ADAC GT Masters – and now the IMSA victory. We’ve finally won at Laguna Seca, as well. This success is the result of perfect teamwork. Our strategists implemented a clever plan, the team did quick pit stops and the drivers made the most of the 911 RSR’s potential. Congratulations everyone!”
Steffen Höllwarth, Head of Operations IMSA Championship.
“We were determined to win today because Laguna Seca was a blank spot on the map. We’ve now managed to tick that off. We made a deliberate decision to use different strategies so that we could be prepared for all eventualities given the high temperatures. This worked perfectly with our number 912 car, but not with the sister car, unfortunately. We’re delighted about the tremendous final result.”
Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19.
“At last, a Porsche RSR wins a race at Laguna Seca. We’ve tried to do this since the beginning of our factory program in 2014, but it’s taken until today to succeed. Congratulations to our colleagues in the 912 car. Unfortunately, not everything ran smoothly strategically for us, otherwise, we would certainly have reached the front of the field. Now I’m looking forward to the endurance race at Sebring.”
Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19.
“We put our money on a two-stop tactic. Our pace was good, but unfortunately, the strategy wasn’t optimal. In the end, we had to settle for finishing behind the sister car and two Corvettes. Still, it was a banner day for Porsche because we’ve achieved two IMSA wins in a row. That does our entire team a world of good.”
Earl Bamber, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19.
“We’ve been waiting for a victory since the summer of last year. It finally worked. We won the race thanks to our strategy and the perfect job of all involved. Just one week after our victory at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, we’re now at the front in the IMSA series. It can continue like this at the season finale in Sebring.”
Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19.
“That was a real team effort – everyone played their part perfectly – particularly our pit crew. Since we had to make three pit stops, the refueling times were shorter than in a normal race. That meant that our guys had to complete the wheel changes flawlessly in record time. It worked very well, as you saw at the first pit stop when I was able to take the lead. This is the first win of the season for us in the 912 car. It’s the second in a row for Porsche. We’re finally achieving the results we deserve with the new 911 RSR.”
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It was a hard-fought day. Just wild class-to-class, and multi-class contact in that last yellow. I had heard ‘green’ over the radio, but it was actually the announcer coming through the microphone, so I backed off and got caught out in everyone’s mess coming to the green. The BMW GTLM car just sent it down the No. 63, and I followed the BMW on the racing line, and we came together at the exit of turn two. I’d have to see the video to see how it all unfolded. It was one of those days where we never gave up. We made points on the leaders coming into this deal, but we lost some points on the Meyer Shank car. It’ll come down to Sebring. We’re still in this thing, and we have to be proud we fought so hard all year to be in the position to go out and fight for the championship in the last race.”
Ryan Hardwick, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Laguna is always a tough track for every team and every driver. I think our car was well-prepared for the challenging conditions. We had a good pace over the long stint, but we lacked the outright speed of some of the other cars to battle at the front. We made up some ground and got a solid finish for the championship. We still find ourselves second in points and we’re within striking distance to the leaders going into Sebring. The championship is still possible, but we definitely have some work to do. This team is going to be up to the challenge and I can’t wait for it.”
Geaux Nolasport. Louisiana Race Team Reflects on 2020 SRO GT4 America Title.
Most championships come down to the final round, but exceptions sometimes occur, and no one proved this better than Nolasport’s Sean Gibbons and Zac Anderson. The Dallas, Texas- based drivers, racing together for the first time this year, proved to be an extraordinary pair. The No. 7 Porsche duo maintained a perfect podium record with a top-three finish in every race they entered. Eight class wins, along with several second and third-place finishes, earned the pair enough points to claim the SRO Pirelli GT4 America SprintX championship in the Am class with three races left in the season. Despite the “amateur” moniker, Anderson and Gibbons fought like pros for every point throughout a season confused by COVID-19 and off-track battles to acquire the funding necessary to continue the championship assault race-by-race. Nothing was taken for granted by the two friends as they looked to make the most of what they had in a field of well-funded and skilled drivers. Their championship-winning effort was made possible thanks to their various partners throughout the season, including Porsche Fresno, Trattore Wines and Stewart Title McKinney.
To no one’s surprise, Zac Anderson was awarded Rookie of the Year. The Texan returned to sports car racing this season after a fifteen-year-long hiatus. Anderson traveled a hard path to reach the honor. When funding forced him out of the seat after a celebrated start in karting, he never wavered from his commitment to get back behind the wheel and show he had not lost the impressive speed and competitive drive that hallmarked his early career. Chasing a clear vision in which the likeable young driver sees his place in a Porsche race car, Anderson remained involved in the industry through automotive marketing programs and as a Driving Coach and New Vehicle Delivery specialist at the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles.
Their teammates, Jason Hart (Dallas, Texas) and Matt Travis (Houston, Texas), earned second in the SprintX Pro/Am championship, only two points away from the title. The Pro/Am pair kicked off the season with a weekend sweep at Circuit of the Americas and continued with a podium finish for eight of the fifteen races in their No. 47 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
Nolasport’s third SprintX entry, the No. 46 Porsche, also placed in the top three of its championship. The Am class father-son duo of David Walker (Dallas, Texas) and Russell Walker (Dallas, Texas) had a weekend sweep in the season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The strong finish pushed them into third-place to wrap their pro season debut.
The season-long performance that accumulated three top-three championship finishes also earned Nolasport the honor of being named the 2020 SprintX Team of the Year. The New Orleans, Louisiana-based team has created a name for themselves in Porsche racing in recent years. The Porsche specialist shop entered its first race in 2015 with the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA. In 2016, the inaugural year of the Cayman GT4 Clubsport race car, the team claimed both Pro and Am championships in PCA Club Racing’s GT4-spec class. Since then, the Jon Scheurich-led organization has remained active in PCA Club Racing, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and SRO America.
Sean Gibbons, Driver, No. 7 Nolasport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“What an amazing season for us to win the championship for GT4 America SprintX Am! I would have never imagined having this result when we started this. We took the entire season race by race, and it took everyone involved to make it possible. The entire team at Nolasport and OGH Motorsports did a fantastic job. Whether it was the car that the crew gave us every weekend, the hospitality executed, or the help from Porsche Fresno and Stewart Title McKinney, it was a team effort. Amazing drives every weekend by my co-driver Zac, and our teammates Jason Hart and Matt Travis don’t get enough credit for all of the help that they give us. This season has been an incredible experience; I am so thrilled and love that Porsche Cayman.”
Zac Anderson, Driver, No. 7 Nolasport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“2020 has been the best year of my life. I’ve been laid off; I’ve struggled to find work and we absolutely scrambled all day every day putting this championship run together. Even still, the sour makes the sweet taste so much better. To Sean Gibbons and Sam Owens: y’all took a shot with me and you didn’t have to. For that I will be forever grateful. I’m so happy we got what we set out to get. To Jason Hart: thank you for your confidence in me. Without it I wouldn’t be the person I am today. To my family and friends who have supported me through thick and thin: my gratitude to all of you knows no end. I hope I can reflect back even a hint of the goodness you all have given to me. And to Nolasport: everyone on that team is a rock star. Everyone on that team wants to be the best in the paddock, and that energy oozes into everything they touch. That’s why you guys are Team of the Year! It was evident from the moment I shook hands with everyone involved. To Trattore Farms, Porsche Fresno and Stewart Title McKinney: your contributions are what made our season-ending stretch possible. Nothing would have happened without it! Thank you so much for letting me be a part of it! I am looking forward to what 2021 has in store!”
Porsche GT Team (North America). @PorscheNARacing
Porsche Motorsport – GT Cars. @PorscheRaces
Porsche Racing. @PorscheTeam
Porsche Motorsport North America. @PorscheMotorsportNorthAmerica (Instagram)
Porsche Formula E. @PorscheFormulaE (Twitter)
@porsche.formulae (Instagram) Porsche Newsroom. @PorscheNewsroom (Twitter)
Porsche 99X Electric. #99XElectric
Porsche 911 RSR. #911RSR
Porsche 911 GT3 R. #911GT3R
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. #911Cup
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. #GT4Clubsport
Porsche 935. #Porsche935
Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport. #GT2RSClubsport
Series Hashtags and Handles.
GT3 Cup Challenge USA. #GT3USA
GT3 Cup Challenge Canada. #GT3Canada
Porsche Sprint Trophy USA West. @PorscheSprintTrophyUSAWest (Instagram)
SRO America @SROAmerica
SRO GT4 America #GT4America
FIA World Endurance Championship. @FIAWEC
Intercontinental GT Challenge. @IntercontGTC
FIA ABB Formula E Championship. @FIAFormulaE
- Image courtesy of Porsche Cars North America