SANTA ANA, Calif. – With many of Global Motorsport Group’s (GMG) greatest motorsport achievements coming in Porsche machinery, the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge season-opener at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas will mark a new chapter for the Southern California-based team, one that includes a return to the famous marque.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to compete with many of the greatest marques over the years,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas, “but when we look over the years, our heritage with Porsche has been one of the most pronounced in our company’s history. It will be great to make a full return with Porsche in Austin, we’re excited to return to our roots in a way.”
While the aftermarket and performance tuning side of GMG’s business has built a reputation for enhancing a number of exotic vehicles over the years, the team’s history in racing has been firmly ensconced with Porsche machinery. Beyond competing with Porsche to earn the first victories for the team in the Pirelli World Challenge, GMG also played an instrumental role in Porsche’s Pirelli World Challenge Manufacturer’s Championships in 2008 and 2009. Adding to that victories at Long Beach and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, runner-up championship finishes in the series, as well as competing at events such as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Rolex 24 at Daytona, the return to the brand seemed a logical fit with the debut of the all-new Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Running three-cars strong, GMG will enter the opening round with one entry in the premier GT category, as well as two entries in the spec GT-Cup class.
Leading off the trio in the GT category will be the No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club Porsche 911 GT3 R of James Sofronas. While the team owner has not raced Porsche machinery in the series since 2012, the team’s deep entrenchment in Porsche-based club racing and production categories over recent years should bode well for Sofronas, who expects a smooth transition in the switch back.
“While this will be my first time competing in a Porsche at Circuit of the Americas, I don’t believe it will be a huge step thanks to all of our experience over the years,” stated Sofronas. “Having raced during the last three COTA events for the series, combined with my understanding of Porsche dynamics, it should be a pretty smooth transition. Unfortunately, the timing has worked out that it will be the first time we’re able to do some serious laps in the car, so inevitably there will be some adjustments, but we’re all excited to take to the track.”
Returning to the series’ GT-Cup category, a spec-class built specifically for Porsche’s prolific 911 GT3 Cup 991 machine, will be Alec Udell. Hailing from nearby Woodlands, Texas, Alec is coming off a tremendous 2015 season. Competing in the same category, Udell took 13 podiums in 14 starts, including two victories. Being forced to miss four events due to damage sustained from an early-season incident, Udell was a clear championship contender had he been able to run the full championship.
In 2016, the goal for Alec and the No 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is set to resume his championship challenge.
“I’m very excited to be back with GMG for the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge racing season,” stated Udell. “After the successes from last season with James, Nev, and the GMG crew I’m ready to jump back into the car and pickup where we left off! I’d also like to announce a continuing partnership with Euroworld Motorsports out of Houston Texas, a key part to the success in the second half of my 2015 season I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.”
Additionally, representing the team in the series’ GT-Cup category will be long-time team veteran Alex Welch, driving the No. 08 machine. Hailing from Colorado, Welch has already been off to a strong start in 2016, taking dominant back-to-back victories during The Thermal Club’s first event of the season, held in mid-January to get back in to the swing of things. No stranger to the challenges of Circuit of the Americas, Welch will head to the event for the third year in succession.
“Circuit of the Americas is unlike any circuit on the calendar, so it’s always exciting to head back,” stated Welch. “It doesn’t really seem that long ago that the 2015 season ended, but it will be nice to get off to a good start. We’re entering a new era for everyone at GMG and I’m happy to be a part of it, it should be a fun event.”
While the entries of Sofronas, Udell and Welch will present a formidable challenge during the upcoming season-opener, long-time team veteran Brent Holden will also return to the team for the upcoming Sprint-X championship, which will make its debut at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Canada, on May 21-22. As an endurance-focused, two-driver event, Holden will partner with James Sofronas in the No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Practice for the season-opening round will begin Thursday, March 3, with the first of two races taking place at 2:30PM CT on Saturday, March 5. Race Two will take place nearly 24 hours later at 2:15PM on Sunday, March 6.
Founded in 2001 by James Sofronas, GMG has quickly established itself as North America’s premier performance tuning and racing facility. What began as a small 1,200 sq. ft. shop, maintaining two race cars, has grown into a 30,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art performance tuning, racing and service facility located in (Orange County) Santa Ana, California. The staff’s experience, attention to detail, and passion are what make GMG the choice of professionals and enthusiasts world wide. Whether you want to maximize the performance of your street car, or race wheel-to-wheel on both amateur and professional racing series across North America, GMG’s reputation for service and quality is unmatched.
Learn more at www.gmgracing.com
Spyder was founded by avid skier and outdoor athlete David Jacobs. He rose to world-class rankings as a competitive skier, and stayed connected to the sport he loves by coaching, designing related products, and building one of the most powerful brands in the industry. His dedication to the sport of skiing and the Spyder brand is as inspiring as it is intriguing. Spyder’s growth exploded over the turn of the century, and the company is now the largest ski-specialty brand in the world. David has recently discovered the adrenaline rush in racing classic Formula One cars, finding success – not surprisingly – in this new pastime. For a man who’s thrived on sports, technology, and professional advancement, the world is sure to see David go a few more times around the track.
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About The Thermal Club
The Thermal Club is the premier private motorsports facility in the world. In addition to 4.5 miles of members-only racetrack, the Club facilities include a fully amenitized Clubhouse and Village unrivaled in the motorsports world. All 4.5 miles of our exquisite racetrack are designed to push both amateurs and professionals to their limit, giving members the thrill of driving at peak performance amidst the endless desert skies. Featuring three different private circuit configurations, trackside villas, a motorsport village with a state-of-the-art clubhouse, tuning shop, a fuel island, as well as member storage garages, The Thermal Club will bring the country club lifestyle to Southern California’s diverse car culture.
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