Birmingham, Alabama, April 26, 2015. Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) and Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) have used Barber Motorsports Park as the location of its Porsche Young Driver Academy since the program’s inception. Whether cause or effect of this association, the Birmingham, Alabama-track proved an appropriate stage this weekend for three of the alumni now participating in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC). Rookie Colin Thompson (Doylestown, Pennsylvania), 2014 Young Driver Academy participant, won his fifth and sixth GT Cup class races of the seven-race old season limited to only Porsche GT3 Cup cars. Fellow classmate Sloan Urry (Salt Lake City, Utah) earned a podium finish in the same category. 2013 participant and current Porsche Young Driver Program honoree Michael Lewis (Laguna Beach, California) finished sixth overall in the GT class driving a Porsche 911 GT3 R in Sunday’s 50-minute race.
Highest finishing Porsche overall for the two-race weekend was Ryan Dalziel (Scotland) in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R. The Scot, who now resides in Winter Park, Florida, was third overall on Sunday and fifth in Saturday’s race. He threatened for victory in both races.
Porsche 911 GT3 R
The Porsche 911 GT3 R continues to press at the front of the Pirelli World Challenge GT field but is still seeking its first overall race victory of 2015. The No. 31 EFFORT Racing machine of veteran sports car ace Ryan Dalziel captured two top-five finishes at Barber Motorsports Park, including the podium result on Sunday at the 2.38-miles/15-turn road course. Meanwhile, teammate, Michael Lewis had both a rewarding and a frustrating weekend in Alabama. After earning the seat in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, the former open-wheel racer went on to win four of the first five GT Amateur (GTA) class races this season. The results were so impressive that EFFORT Racing and Pirelli World Challenge moved the Californian up into the GT ranks. He performed impressively this weekend in the all-professional driver class, the first time without the letter “A” attached to his name. However, the end results proved frustrating after finishing 23rd following a late-race punctured tire in Saturday’s Round Six robbed him of a top-five followed by sixth-place finish on Sunday.
Ryan Dalziel, No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: “It has been a difficult week since Long Beach. As a team we wanted to come out of here with a podium and we accomplished that. It was another good points race. We took points on Olivier [Beretta, driver, No. 61 Ferrari F458 GT3 Italia] in both races. I am glad to see Johnny [O’Connell, driver No. 4 Cadillac ATS-VR GT3] is OK after what looked like a pretty scary fire. We’ll see what happens next for us.”
Michael Lewis, No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: “The Porsche was really hooked-up. We made progress over the weekend. The EFFORT team worked really well. It is good to have both cars come back clean. We look forward to the next race in Canada and pushing for some more points.”
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
The one-make GT Cup by MOMO class made its Pirelli World Challenge debut earlier this year. Since that time, Colin Thompson has shown he learned his lessons well at last fall’s Porsche Young Driver Academy. The Pennsylvanian has placed his orange No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at the front of the field in six of the seven races held thus far including both rounds here at Barber Motorsports Park. After qualifying on the pole for Saturday’s 50-minute race, which shared the track with the GT and GTA classes, Thompson fell back early but returned at the checkered to again take top-honors just ahead of Alex Udell (The Woodlands, Texas) in the No. 17. Narrowly trailing behind in his own No. 02 GT3 Cup car prepared by TruSpeed was Urry.
In the weekend’s second race, seventh of the season, Thompson sprinted from pole and held the lead until the checkered flag. The running order at the conclusion of 29-laps (same as Saturday), again read: Thompson, Udell and Urry. Thompson strengthened his point lead.
Colin Thompson, No. 11 Kelly Moss Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup: “Every race we treat like we’re so far behind that we need to push. The whole Kelly Moss team goes in as a unit. We’re always looking for more. That’s the only way we can maintain this point lead and take the championship. Everybody raced cleanly in the GT Cup field all weekend. Sloan [Urry], Alec [Udell] and I had battles back and forth in both races. We had to re-strategize when the yellow came out at the end of the last race. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because even though I opened up a gap earlier, both Alec and Sloan are very good drivers and very fast. It made things interesting, but we were able to hold on until the end.”
Porsche Cayman S
In the GTS class, which returned for its fifth and sixth rounds this weekend, Jack Baldwin (Marietta, Georgia) and Buz McCall (Boca Raton, Florida) had fast but frustrating weekends. Baldwin won at Barber Motorsports Park in 2014 with the GTSport Porsche Cayman S and captured the pole position for the first race of the weekend on Friday. He fought hard throughout the 50-minute race but ultimately finished fourth. McCall took the checkered on the lead lap in 15th while John Allen (Aurora, Colorado) was a lap down in his Cayman S, 18th in the single-class race.
In the second GTS class race of the weekend on Saturday, Baldwin retired on the first lap while McCall and Allen repeated their previous day results with 15th and 18th-place finishes respectively.
While Baldwin and McCall are veteran drivers with decades of winning behind them, Goldcrest Motorsports, preparers of the pair of GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman S, has a direct association with the Young Driver Academy. The Atlanta-area preparation and race shop maintained the two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars that participants at the Academy have used for the past three years.
Jack Baldwin, No. 73 GTSport Racing, Porsche Cayman S: “The GTSport Racing guys gave me a fantastic Porsche Cayman S this weekend; a winning car, the pole car. I drove my heart out and did the best I could.”
The next race weekend will see the Pirelli World Challenge go international as it moves north to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. Canada’s legendary and ultra-fast circuit will see all classes compete at the Speedfest Victoria Day Weekend, May 15-17.