Lexington, Ohio – With the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season entering the homestretch, Driver’s and Manufacturer’s Championship battles are heating up as the series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course for the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio presented by Honda Racing, part of the Honda Indy 200 weekend.
GT and GTA drivers are set to race Rounds 14 and 15, while GT Cup and GTS pilots will race in Rounds 13 and 14. The weekend marks the 19th appearance for the series at the 13-turn 2.258-mile permanent road course.
Parente Continues to Lead Long, Cooper and O’Connell Heading to Mid-Ohio – GT Preview
With over 10 world-renowned manufacturers represented by some of the top drivers in the world, the GT class features some of the best sports car racing on the planet.
After scoring dominating back-to-back wins at Lime Rock Park in May, Alvaro Parente placed sixth in both rounds at Road America in June allowing the McLaren factory driver to maintain a slim lead in the GT Driver’s Championship standings with 1143 points. Parente leads a 14-car GT field into Mid-Ohio and in 2016 looks to add to an already impressive racing resume that includes winning the 2005 British Formula 3 Championship, the 2007 World Series by Renault Championship and the 2015 International GT Open Championship – he will drive the No. 9 K–PAX Racing McLaren 650S. K-PAX Racing also brings two McLaren 650S GT3s for McLaren GT Academy Driver and 2015 GT Cup Driver’s Champion Colin Thompson, and young up–and–comer Austin Cindric. Thompson dominated in GT Cup last year winning 13 of 18 class races and will pilot the No. 13 K–PAX Racing machine. Cindric has raced in a number of series previously including Mazda’s Road to Indy’s USF2000 series and the Global Rally Cross Championship and will pilot the No. 6 K–PAX Racing McLaren 650S.
After an up and down first half of the 2016 season, Porsche Factory driver Patrick Long, the former PWC 2011 GT Driver’s Champion, comes into the Mid-Ohio weekend second in GT driver’s standings only 48 points behind Parente with 1095. Long closed the gap slightly coming out of Road America with fourth and fifth place finishes. Long will pilot the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Wright Motorsports. He also looks to help Porsche repeat as GT Manufacturer’s Champions in 2016 – Porsche comes into the weekend leading McLaren 98–87.
Coming off a disappointing Road America where he finished 19th in both rounds, four–time and defending 2015 GT Driver’s Champion Johnny O’Connell sits fourth in the Driver’s Championship heading into the weekend with 957 points. O’Connell has won before at Mid-Ohio (2011) and he’ll need to repeat that performance to get back into the hunt for the driver’s championship. The Cadillac Factory driver will pilot the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS–V.R GT3. O’Connell’s teammate Michael Cooper, the 2015 GTS Driver’s Champion, comes into the weekend third overall with 1025 points after scoring a third in Round 13 at Road America. Cooper will drive the Cadillac Racing No. 8 ATS–V.R GT3.
Nissan Motorsports and Always Evolving return with two GT-R GT3s for JD Davison and Bryan Heitkotter. Davison comes into the weekend fifth in Driver’s Championship points with 929 – he will pilot the No. 33 AE Replay XD Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R GT3. Heitkotter will drive the No. 05 Always Evolving/Replay XD/Nissan Nismo GT3 GT-R and comes into the weekend ninth in the championship.
Up–and–coming sportscar racer Kyle Marcelli has slowly but surely kept himself within striking distance of the leaders in the championship. Marcelli currently sits sixth with 919 points and will drive the No. 2 CRP Racing Audi R8.
Absolute Racing enters a Bentley Continental GT3 with Adderly Fong piloting the car. Fong won the 2013 Audi R8 LMS Cup and was Vice Champion of the 2015 GT Asia series. Fong will drive the No. 88 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3. Fong sits eighth in the championship with 826 points.
Sports car veteran Jon Fogarty enters his second year in PWC and will pilot the No. 99 Gainsco Auto Insurance /Bob Stallings Racing McLaren 650S. Fogarty’s impressive racing resume includes 16 career Rolex Series victories, while being the 2007 and 2009 Grand–Am Rolex Sports Car Series Co–Champion. Fogarty finished 3rd in Round 2 at COTA.
Calvert Dynamics Racing enters the No. 98 Calvert Dynamics/CurbAgajanian/Phoenix Performance/Brett
King Designs/Boys Republic Porsche 911 GT3 R for Michael Lewis. Lewis returns to the series with a new team after his previous team, EFFORT Racing, announced a hiatus from competition in 2016.
Seven-time series Driver’s Champion Peter Cunningham owns almost every statistical record in PWC and he comes off a Road America weekend having scored his two best results (a second and fourth) since he moved into the seat of the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing’s Acura TLX-GT. Teammate Ryan Eversley had a break-out weekend at Road America winning both races and will pilot the No. 43 Acura/HPD/Red Line Oil/RealTime Acura TLX–GT – he sits seventh in the Championship.
Fuentes Continues to Lead Class Championship, Schein Looks to Close the Gap – GTA Class Preview
The GTA driver classification recognizes gentlemen drivers competing in GT class machinery. At season’s end, the GTA driver that accumulates the most points will be awarded the GTA Championship and the Sportsman Cup presented by B.R.M Chronographes. Along with the cup, a B.R.M championship chronograph will go to the champion.
Martin Fuentes set a series record to open the season with seven straight wins, and he scored his eight win of the season in Round 11 at Lime Rock Park. The racing Gods however weren’t so kind to Fuentes at Road America as mechanical gremlins led to an early retirement in Round 12. Fuentes however still leads the GTA Driver’s Championship with 1258 points and will pilot the No. 07 Hublot, Under Armour Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia.
Michael Schein, in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, has been on a charge to close the gap to both Fuentes and Montecalvo and won Round 12 at Road America – his fourth win of the season and sits third overall with 982 points.
Rounding out the six-car GTA field is Michael McCann in the No. 82 Yeti GT3R/McCann Racing/Dodge Viper McCann Racing Dodge Viper GT3, Joseph Toussaint, in the No. 90 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche Porsche 911 GT3R and Preston Calvert in the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3-R. Series veteran McCann enters his second straight series weekend after making his first series start since 2008 at Road America. Toussaint makes his fourth series start this season, while Calvert makes his first career GTA start after running in GT Cup this season.
Udell Leads GT Cup Field into Mid-Ohio
GT Cup is a spec class with drivers piloting the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup – the 2016 season thus far has featured a tremendous battle between two young, up-and-coming sportscar talents.
Emerging talent Alec Udell, piloting the No. 19 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup continued to pad his growing list of positive series statistics winning back-to-back races at Road America to take over the lead in the class Driver’s Championship. Udell’s lead is 38 points over another young emerging driver Sloan Urry, who won Round 9 at Lime Rock in the No. 20 Security National Mortgage/Avasis TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Urry comes into the weekend with 1250 points.
Corey Fergus, the 2015 TC Driver’s Champion, has moved up into the class and will pilot the No. 00 Byers Porsche, US LED, Motul Motorsports Promotions machine. Fergus had an impressive 2015 campaign scoring three TC wins and 13 top 5 finishes. He sits fourth in class driver’s championship points with 968.
Sandberg Leads Class Heading into Mid-Ohio – GTS Class Overview
The GTS class has featured some of the best wheel-to-wheel competition seen in racing in recent years. And 2016 has been no different with six different drivers piloting machinery from five different manufacturers scoring GTS race wins thus far this season.
A number of new teams have entered the series bringing new platforms to PWC including ANSA Autosport. Brett Sandberg comes into the weekend leading the GTS Driver’s Championship with 995 points after winning Round 12 at Road America – Sandberg also won Round 2 at COTA. He will pilot the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4. Teaming up with Sandberg is Bill Ziegler who will drive the No. 9 ANSA Motorsports KTM X–Bow GT4. Sandberg’s performance thus far has helped KTM move into the lead in GTS Manufacturer’s Points with 82, eight points ahead of Chevrolet in second coming into the weekend (74 points).
Leading the charge for Chevrolet is four-time series and two-time GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach piloting the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Z28. Since 2013, a Blackdog Chevy has claimed the GTS Championship – Aschenbach did so in 2013 and 2014, with Cooper winning in 2015. Aschenbach started off the season with a win at COTA in Round 1, and has since been victorious in Round 7 at CTMP and Round 9 at Lime Rock Park. He comes off a somewhat disappointing Road America though where mechanical gremlins led to the No. 10 machine retiring early in Round 11. He comes into the weekend with 960 points. He will team with series veteran Tony Gaples who will pilot the No. 11 Blackdog Speed shop Chevrolet Z28 – Gaples sits 10th in the class championship with 562 points.
Another team entering a new platform in the series is the Performance Motorsports Group. Fifteen–year–old Rookie Parker Chase pilots the team’s No. 19 Ginetta GT4 and has had an impressive season thus far – he sits third overall in the championship with 917 points. Parker equaled his best PWC finish in Round 6 at Barber with a second in Round 8 at CTMP. He will look to score his first PWC career series win this coming weekend. Parker will team with Harry Gottsacker, in the No. 29 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4.
Jack Roush Jr. in the No. 60 ROUSH Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302, and 16-year-old phenom Nate Stacy in the No. 14 Rehagen Racing/Stacy Racing machine team up to lead the Ford charge. Roush won back–to–back races at St. Petersburg and looks to regroup after a disappointing Road America where off-track excusions damaged the No. 60 machine and the Livonia, Michigan native was unable to start either Round 11 and 12. Stacy has had a good first half of the 2016 season finishing second in Round 1, fourth in Round 2 and third in Round 8 at CTMP and comes into the weekend fourth with 863 points. Roush and Stacy as well look to help Ford win its second consecutive GTS Manufacturer’s Championship in 2016 – coming into the weekend Ford sits in third with 72 points.
Scott Dollahite, piloting the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, comes into the weekend fifth with 784 points. Dollahite has been a model of consistency this season recording eight top 5 finishes in 10 starts.
Scott Heckert will pilot the No. 54 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN Cars/Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4. Teaming with Heckert is Jade Buford who has won three races in six starts this season in the No. 45 SIN Cars SIN R1 GT4.
Canadian team Mantella Autosport Inc. brings a two–car effort to Mid-Ohio with Anthony Mantella in the No. 8 Gulf KTM X–Bow GT4, and teammate Martin Barkey in the No. 80 MBRP Sportlab Sawmill Creative car.
TRG–AMR brings an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for Jason Alexandridis, in the No. 09 BRM Chronographes/Rebounderz/Rohnert Park/Racing for Cancer/Pirata Della Strada/Simon Ward machine.
The 17-car GTS field includes Kevin Marshall, in the No. 44 VSA Motorsports Lotus GT4; Mark Klenin, in the No. 62 Schomp/Premiere Copy Klenin Performance Racing Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4; and Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 RecStuff.com, Kenda JCR Motorsports Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, 13-turn 2.258-mile permanent road course
Friday, July 29
12:15 PM – 12:45 PM: GTS Qualifying
Saturday, July 30
12:00 PM – 12:45 PM: GT–GTA–GT Cup Qualifying
50 minutes (GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS)
40 minutes (TC/TCA/TCB)
Live Internet Telecast (on motortrendondemand.com):
Saturday, July 30
10:45 AM – 11:45 AM Pirelli World Challenge GTS Race # 2
4:35 PM – 5:45 PM Pirelli World Challenge GT–GTA–GT Cup Race # 1
Sunday, July 31
11:00 AM – 12:05 PM Pirelli World Challenge GT–GTA–GT Cup Race # 2
Television (on CBS Sports Network):
GT: Aug. 7, 4 PM
GTS: Aug. 11, 10 PM
All times listed above Eastern.