Porsche Carrera Cup North America comes to Atlanta finale with no title decided
Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands – Road Atlanta – Rounds 15 and 16 of 16
• Multiple entries have chance at every class title at Atlanta.
• Van Berlo, Thompson, Estep and Dickinson contend for Pro honors.
• Metni, Castro repeat Pro-Am title battle.
• Kvamme, Goetz and Smith to decide Am championship.
• Three teams challenge for Entrants honors with two rounds remaining.
• Top driver to earn Al Holbert Cup.
• Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich makes North American debut.
Braselton, Georgia. The 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands season ends with rounds 15 and 16 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, September 29 – 30. The premier one-make series has enjoyed remarkable growth in its second season in all areas. This weekend that continued success includes on-track action with 35 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars entered for the Braselton, Georgia track. Championships in its three classes and the Entrants title are all undecided as practice begins on Wednesday, September 28. The 2.54-mile, 12-turn race course with its long straights, sweeping corners, technical turns and elevation changes cut through the red Georgia clay northeast of Atlanta plays host to the final two 40-minute races of the series’ second year. With four drivers capable of capturing the Pro class title, two in the Pro-Am category and three in the Am class – all racing the same type 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car directly based on the road-going Porsche 911 GT3 – who will stand at the front of the Celebration of Champions to receive the impressive list of awards and trophies all comes down to this weekend.
Seven months ago, the sophomore year for the premier single make race series opened at Sebring International Raceway. This weekend it will close. In that time 47 drivers have taken part in at least one of the 42 class races across 14 event weekends. Twelve drivers have at least one race victory in their class.
Al Holbert Cup.
September 30 is historically significant for Porsche in North America. Not only will it see the crowning of champions in each category of the one-make championship but also the awarding of the Al Holbert Cup to the overall champion of the series. The Al Holbert Cup recognizes Holbert’s commitment, inspiration and leadership in the formation and organization of Porsche motorsports in North America. The silver cup carrying his name has been crafted as a timeless and traditional trophy to commemorate each Pro class champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America starting with this inaugural season in 2021. This award recognizes the true racing spirit of Al Holbert conveying his professional driver’s skill, engineer’s precision and a racer’s passion. The unique award represents a link between the past, present and future of Porsche. Holbert was a storied racer and one of the all-time leaders in IMSA race victories (63) and pole positions (27).
Making the award even more poignant, it will be presented on the same day the affable leader died in a small aircraft accident in 1988, 34 years ago, Friday.
Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich makes North American debut.
The top Pro class talent of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America will have a firsthand look at the competition they could face at the peak of the international Porsche one-make ladder, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, at Road Atlanta. Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich (Germany) will take the wheel of the 311RS Motorsport No. 12 Porsche for the final two rounds of the year. Having recently completed the Supercup season with a third-place finish in the championship, Heinrich – who was named as a Porsche Junior in December, 2021 – will run in the special Invitational class. Like NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon (Charlotte, North Carolina) did at the most recent two rounds at Porsche Sports Car Together Fest earlier this month, Heinrich will be eligible for podium results within the Pro class but will not be eligible for championship points.
As a result of offering his seat to Heinrich, this marks the first Porsche Carrera Cup North America event not to include GRAND-AM GT Champion, Leh Keen (Atlanta, Georgia).
35 Entries. Pro. 15, Pro-Am. 13 Am. 7
Fifteen, nearly half, of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars entered this weekend are in the Pro class. The intense competition at the sharp end of the field comes with overall championship implications as four drivers are still eligible for the Pro class title.
The early favorite for the title, Kay van Berlo (the Netherlands currently studying in Florida), did not disappoint from the start sweeping not only rounds one and two at Sebring but three and four on the Long Beach street course as well. Since that time, he added back-to-back victories at Watkins Glen International (rounds seven and eight) for a total of six wins, most in the class, for the year behind the wheel of the No. 3 Kelly Moss Porsche. He has three more podium finishes, seven pole positions and seven fastest race laps. The 2021 runner-up has 270 points coming to Georgia. However, four wins, three pole positions and one fastest race lap for Parker Thompson (Canadian resident living in Indianapolis, Indiana) in the No. 9 JDX Racing machine bring the talented former open-wheel driver into contention. The winner of twin races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (rounds five and six) and single trips to victory lane at Road America (round 12) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (round 13) have combined for 259 points for Thompson – who finished in third-place in the class last year. Forty points back from van Berlo is first year contender Trenton Estep (San Antonio, Texas). The driver of the No. 6 MDK Motorsports Porsche has three wins (rounds nine and 10 at Toronto as well as round 12 at Road America), three pole positions and two fastest laps. Riley Dickinson (New Braunfels, Texas) is the last driver in the Pro class with a victory and the last driver with a shot to take the title from his Kelly Moss teammate. Dickinson scored his first win in the series at the most recent round at Indianapolis in the No. 53. The 2021 fourth-place championship finisher has three fastest race laps and one pole position.
With a theoretical 56 points available (25 x 2 for race wins, 2 x 2 for pole position wins and 1 x 2 for fastest race lap in each session) to a single driver over the course of a normal weekend, all four drivers are still in the hunt for the title.
To the Point. Pro Class.
Van Berlo… 270
Echoing the thrilling battle to the last corner of the inaugural 2021 season, Kelly Moss teammates Alan Metni (Austin, Texas) and Efrin Castro (Dominican Republic) are again the final contenders for the Pro-Am title. Last year, Castro – then racing for another team – made a late season charge on the early year dominance of Metni. While the balance between Metni’s No. 99 and Castro’s No. 65 has been more consistent this year, the two enter the final two races of the season with Metni again the leader. As in 2021, Castro, who has seven wins to Metni’s three, again must overcome the point gap to his teammate to repeat as the Pro-Am class champion. With only a 14-point deficit, we could see the positions swap in round 15 on Thursday. While technically out of title contention, Marco Cirone (Canada) could play foil for victories. The Canadian, who sits third in the standings, has three wins in the No. 84 Mark Motors Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and is 70 points behind Metni’s 252. Curt Swearingin (Chattanooga, Tennessee) remains winless in 2022 but has three consecutive podium finishes in the No. 17 ACI Motorsports entering the finale. While unable to win the title, adding a victory would bring the year to strong close for the Tennessee-based race team. Closing out the top five is the 2021 Pro-Am 991 class champion Matt Halcome (-110 points). The resident of Dallas, Georgia is looking for his first win in the category this year driving the popular Scooby Doo Mystery Machine livery at his home event. The Pro-Am class is for drivers between the ages of 36 and 57.
To the point. Pro-Am Class.
Midway through the season, the general opinion was that Mark Kvamme (Columbus, Ohio) would march away with the Am championship in the No. 43 MDK Motorsports Porsche. However, the nine-time race winner missed rounds nine and ten at Toronto opening up the opportunity for John Goetz (Weston, Connecticut) and Bill Smith (Dallas, Texas) to close on Kvamme. When Smith missed Road America due to an injury sustained at home, that flipped the top-three in the class for drivers age 57 and older. Entering the final race weekend, Kvamme holds 272 points, Goetz is 16 points behind in the No. 57 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Smith has raced the No. 42 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car to third-place, 31 markers out of the lead. The three are the only drivers with a chance to secure the Am championship in the seven car class.
To the point. Am Class.
Smith … 214
Of a possible 42 class wins, Kelly Moss has won 17. Those victories have come at the hands of four drivers in two classes: van Berlo, Dickinson (Pro class) and Metni, Castro (Pro-Am). Despite the 40 percent win rate, the program owned by Victoria Thomas and husband Andy Kilcoyne can still be overtaken for the Entrants Championship in the final two rounds. JDX Racing has four wins and is 35 points behind the 2021 champions. With three victories, MDK Motorsports is 38 points off the lead in their first season of Porsche Carrera Cup North America competition. Of the 19 teams which have entered at least one car in one weekend this year, those three are the only entrants with a mathematical shot at the trophy. Points are awarded only to the highest placing team car overall, regardless of class.
To the point. Entrants.
Kelly Moss… 300
JDX Racing… 265
MDK Motorsports… 262
Topp Racing… 179
311RS Motorsports… 156
Timing. (all times ET)
Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands.
Wednesday, September 28 – Practice 1 – 9:45 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.
Wednesday, September 28 – Practice 2 – 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, September 29 – Qualifying – 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Thursday, September 29 – Round 15 – 5:00 p.m. – 5:40 p.m.
Friday, September 30 – Round 16 – 10:55 a.m. – 11:35 a.m.
Where to Watch.
Live timing and scoring of each Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands session can be found at www.PorscheCarreraCup.us. The races will be broadcast live on the official series web site – www.porschecarreracup.na – and on the Peacock Streaming App. as well as on IMSA.TV. IMSA Radio provides play-by-play commentary.
About the Cayman Islands.
The Cayman Islands, located an hour south of Miami in the vibrant tranquility of western Caribbean, is a premier destination for travelers, thrill-seeking divers, adventurous epicures, honeymooners and families alike. The trio of islands affords each guest with the ultimate setting to enjoy life’s finest comforts, as the Caribbean’s leading luxury lifestyle destination. Five-star resorts, high-end villas, condos and breathtaking beachfront properties unique to each island offer a myriad of accommodation options for discerning travelers to enjoy. Additionally, the Cayman Islands is frequently heralded as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean” and offers endless gastronomic experiences to delight even the most seasoned of palates.
The Cayman Islands, world-renowned for impeccable “Caymankind” hospitality also employs best-in-class health and sanitation protocols to keep visitors and locals safe. To learn more about the Cayman Islands, please go to www.visitcaymanislands.com; www.divecayman.ky or call your local travel agent. For the most up-to-date travel guidance and protocols, please visit: https://www.exploregov.ky/coronavirus.
Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by The Cayman Islands.
Porsche Carrera Cup North America by The Cayman Islands is the premier one-make race series in the United States and Canada utilizing a combination of the latest Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, type 992, and MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport Cup N3 racing slick to challenge the best road and street race courses on the continent. The second season of the championship is scheduled to host 16-rounds at eight venues. Each 40-minute race counts toward a season-long driver and team championship in each of three classes: Pro, Pro-Am and Am.
More on Porsche Carrera Cup North America by The Cayman Islands can be found at www.PorscheCarreraCup.us.
- Image courtesy of Porsche Motorsport North America. Bob Chapman, Autosport Image.