SANTA ANA, Calif – Returning for his 15th season of Pirelli World Challenge competition, Global Motorsports Group (GMG) team owner James Sofronas will arrive at next week’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg fully committed to the series’ sprint rounds, continuing his commitment with Porsche Motorsport North America and the venerable Porsche 911 GT3 R. Beyond the five-race sprint championship, however, the team is proud to announce the addition of Porsche Motorsport works driver Laurens Vanthoor for the opening two rounds of the series’ SprintX championship, co-driving with Sofronas in pursuit of overall victory.
“It’s great to be back in the Pirelli World Challenge for another season,” stated Sofronas. “It’s incredible to think of how the series has grown over the years, and it’s been an honor to be a part of it. Our business has grown with it of course, and 2017 looks to be a great continuation of that. Last year we really enjoyed working with the current iteration of the Porsche 911 GT3 R in its first year of development, and headed in to this year we have a very good understanding of what to expect. Of course a big part of that is our relationship with Porsche Motorsport North America, and the addition of Laurens Vanthoor for our opening two SprintX events is a huge demonstration of our mutual commitment to one another. Porsche has been a big part of our business over the years, and bringing in such a talented co-driver is a great opportunity for everyone. I’m really looking forward to St. Petersburg and it should be a great race.”
As a team with a rich history of competing with Porsche machinery, GMG and Sofronas’ return to the marque is part of a partnership that has been synonymous with the team’s growth. Not only did Sofronas take his first victory, as well as his best championship finish under the Porsche Motorsport umbrella, but the team also played a critical role in the 2008 and 2009 Manufacturer’s Championship won by the brand. In 2016, GMG also held the unique distinction of being the top sales team for the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, selling more cars than any other in North America.
Joining GMG for the opening SprintX rounds at VIRginia International Raceway as well as Mosport will be factory newcomer Laurens Vanthoor. Joining the team in his first year with Porsche Motorsport, the Belgian will join Sofronas for the two-driver, sixty-minute format with an impressive roster of success. At only 25-years old, Vanthoor already has a résumé that includes the Intercontinental GT Championship, victories at the 24 Hours of Nürbürgring, 24 Hours of Spa, and even the German Formula 3 championship.
Of course, beyond the team’s on-track performance, Sofronas and company will continue to use the series as a development for their expanding street tuning business. As the leading performance tuning shop in Southern California, the team has used their trackside experience with Porsche and a number of other marques to give them a unique advantage in understanding the characteristics of their street counterparts. In such, no other organization in the area has a deeper understanding of the dynamics and engineering to make their vehicles perform, which has translated to a number of street car performance products. In addition, the racing environment has created an incredible learning ground for team personnel, with the team offering the same championship-winning experience on the track for a client’s daily driver.
In addition to Sofronas’s full efforts behind the wheel of the No. 14, the team owner will also maintain a busy racing schedule with the team’s three car program. Beyond running Alec Udell and Preston Calvert in another Porsche 911 GT3 R, the addition of George Kurtz’s McLaren 570S GT4 GTS program will add another dynamic in the form of experiential entertainment, with Kurtz bringing on CrowdStrike as a primary sponsor. On any given weekend, CrowdStrike will use the team and series as an opportunity to host several dozen partners, clients, and guests, the type of program that Sofronas relishes in, fully aware of what the series has to offer.
Additionally, Sofronas will bring on sponsorship to the program from Mobil 1, The Thermal Club, and a new partnership with renowned apparel company 5.11 Tactical. Producing a wide range of durability-oriented apparel, 5.11 Tactical joins the team as an excellent fit, with the company specializing in apparel ranging from shirts, pants, boots, accessories, and beyond, all oriented for extreme use including law enforcement, fire and rescue, and beyond.
The series “Sprint” championship will begin in just over one-weeks’ time with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, with Sofronas and the No. 14 Mobil 1 / 5.11 Tactical / The Thermal Club Porsche 911 GT3 R committed to the entirety of the championship.
Official practice begins Thursday, March 9, with the first of two-races occurring on Saturday, March 11, and the second on Sunday, March 12.