GT & GTS SprintX Championships Up for Grabs This Weekend in PWC Grand Prix of Utah at Utah Motorsports Campus
Vilander/Molina/Ferrari top GT Points, Sofronas/Welch/Audi lead GTS
GRANTSVILLE, Utah – This weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Utah marks the conclusion of the 2018 GT SprintX and GTS SprintX road racing championships with the Aug. 11-12 doubleheader 60-minute, two-driver events set to decide the 10-race titles run at the high-speed 3.048-mile, 14-turn outer course at the Utah Motorsports Campus.
The Utah Saturday and Sunday GT SprintX and GTS SprintX features are expected to be wild and highly-competitive races with the popular GT3 and GT4 sports cars fighting for coveted championships in the international driver lineup.
After doubleheader race weekends at COTA, VIRginia International Raceway, Lime Rock Park and Portland International Raceway, the point battles will be up for grabs when the green flag drops at UMC with GT SprintX events at 4:45 p.m. MDT Saturday and 3:00 p.m. MDT Sunday and GTS SprintX races at 1:10 p.m. MDT Saturday and 11:00 a.m. MDT Sunday.
Entering the Utah weekend, Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina top the GT SprintX Pro-Pro class points in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 with four race victories in the first eight contests. The Ferrari duo lead the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol Porsche 911 GT3 R pair of Scott Hargrove and Wolf Henzler, 174-160, followed by the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R combo of Michael Christensen and Spencer Pumpelly.
In the GTS SprintX division, veterans James Sofronas and Alex Welch pace the Pro-Am standings with their No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS machine with a 25-point margin over 19-year-old Harry Gottsacker in the No. 68 Racers’ Edge Motorsports SIN R1 followed by another veteran, Jake Buford in the No. 55 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4.
Action gets underway on Friday at UMC with practice rounds in all PWC classes – GT SprintX Pro-Pro/Pro-Am/Am-Am/GT Cup, GTS SprintX Pro-Am/Am-Am and the three Touring Car categories, TCR, TC and TCA.
Qualifying is set for Saturday morning beginning at 8:35 a.m. MDT and the first main events start at 11:30 a.m. MDT. Sunday’s features take place starting at 9 a.m. MDT.
All of the Pirelli World Challenge races at the Utah Motorsports Campus can be viewed in the live streaming format on www.world-challenge.com with each class then featured on the CBS Sports Network in a delayed basis.
Champions to be crowned in Utah GT SprintX Finale – GT SprintX Preview
Finland’s Vilander and Spain’s Miguel Molina opened the GT SprintX Pro-Pro season with double wins at COTA and never looked back with additional race triumphs at Lime Rock Park and Portland. The factory Ferrari contingent have also placed second twice in the 2018 GT SprintX Pro-Pro class to hold a 14-point lead with the two remaining 60-minute races left at Utah.
Canada’s Hargrove and veteran Henzler of Germany have been consistent with the popular No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol Porsche 911 GT3 R in GT SprintX with five podium finishes in the eight races, and Hargrove has also scored two Sprint wins in 2018. Hargrove trails Vilander by just six points the GT Overall standings with four GT races left in the 2018 PWC season.
Christensen of Denmark, the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, and veteran Pumpelly of Atlanta, Ga., have a GT SprintX win in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 as well as three podium placings. Christensen also recorded an impressive GT Sprint win in June Road America.
One team to watch at Utah this weekend will be the K-PAX Racing Bentley squad of former GT series champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 with Andy Soucek of Spain as well as youngster Rodrigo Baptista of Brazil and Maxime Soulet of Belgium in the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3. The Baptista/Soulet team won the GT SprintX race at VIR in April.
Two Mercedes-AMG teams could definitely pose as spoilers at Utah with the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 pair of Daniel Morad of Canada and young Matt Brabham of Australia and the VIR GT SprintX winning duo of Mike Skeen and Scott Heckert both of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Skeen has two pole positions this year at COTA and Lime Rock Park, while Morad won the pole at VIR.
In the Pro-Am class, teenage driving star Parker Chase of New Braunfels, Texas and veteran Ryan Dalziel of Scotland put on a spectacular performance last month at Portland with a GT SprintX overall victory in Round 8 and a second place overall in Round 7 in the No. 19 TruSpeed Audi R8 LMS. The Audi combo currently lead the Pro-Am class by eight points entering the Utah finales, off five Pro-Am wins.
The No. 31 TR3 Racing/Ferrari of Vancouver Ferrari 488 GT3, the 2017 Utah GT SprintX winning car, returns in the Pro-Am division this weekend with drivers Jeff Segal of Miami, Fla., and Wei Lu of Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Segal and Lu have recorded one Pro-Am win and five runner-up finishes so far in 2018. Segal also scored the overall pole at COTA in March.
Long Beach GTA class winner, Yuki Harata of Japan, teams with pro racer Alessandro Bressan in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 at UMC and the team of Pierre Mulacek of Austin, Tex., and Anthony Lazzaro of Atlanta in the Risi Competizione/BioKube Ferrari 488 GT3 rounding out the Pro-Am division.
The 2016 GTA champion Martin Fuentes of Mexico City, Mex., an eight-time Am-Am race winner, will be the leading Am-Am team at Utah as he co-drives with Caesar Bacarella of Miami, Fla., in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3. Challenging the Ferrari team will be local racer David Askew of Utah in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Naoto Takeda and Takuya Shirasaka both of Japan in the No. 97 Turner Motorsports BMW F13 M6 GT3.
Sofronas/Welch Pair Seeks to Clinch Title at Utah with 33-car field – GTS SprintX Preview
Veteran Sofronas, a two-class series champion in 2017, seeks three GTS crowns this year and the first is on the line this weekend in the GTS SprintX Pro-Am doubleheader with his Am partner Welch. The pair have scored two GT SprintX wins at COTA and VIR along with three top-five finishes in the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS sports car.
Teenager Gottsacker, from San Antonio, Tex., has been impressive this year in the No. 69 SIN R1 after his first GTS overall win at Portland last month. The recently-awarded Eagle Scout has three pole positions and two runner-up placings to rank second in the GTS SprintX points.
Nashville’s Buford, a multi-time race winner in GTS the past several seasons, has one win, one second and one third this year in the No. 55 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 with teammate Scott Maxwell of Canada. The Ford duo will be a factor at Utah this weekend.
Four-time PWC GT champion Johnny O’Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., returns to PWC action this weekend with his son Canaan, a TC race winner, in the No. 72 Robinson Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R along with Gar Robinson and Shane Lewis in the No. 74 Robinson Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
Defending and three-time GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach will be a challenger this weekend in the No.1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R when the GTS four-time sprint race winner in 2018 co-drives with former PWC GT champion Andy Pilgrim, another former series titleholder.
The second Blackdog Speed Shop team car features 2017 GT SprintX Pro-Pro champion and 2015 GTS titlist Michael Cooper pairing with veteran Tony Gaples in the No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
The PF Racing team cars to Buford and Maxwell will be other challengers in the No. 10 Ford Mustang GT4 of Vinnie Allegretta and J.R. Pesek and young James Pesek and rising star Patrick Gallagher in the No. 40 Ford Mustang GT4.
Recent Road America and Portland GTS race winner Ian James couples with Matt Keegan in the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT in the challenger role this weekend in the Pro-Am division as well as the Classic BMW squad of Pro-Am entrants Justin Raphael/Steven McAleer in the No. 17 Raphael & Associates BMW M4 GT4. Raphael and McAleer finished second at COTA. Another BMW M4 GT4 pair will be from the ST Racing team with veteran Nick Wittmer and college student Samantha Tan in the No. 38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4.
Other Pro/Am challengers this weekend will include the No. 13 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR with former SprintX race winner Kyle Marcelli and Orey Fidani; defending GTS Sprint champion George Kurtz and endurance racing star Colin Braun will co-drive the No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG Audi R8 LMS; Elias Sabo and Andy Lee in the No. 8 GMG Audi R8 LMS; Matt Fassnacht and Christian Szymczak in the No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4; Michael Dinan and Robby Foley in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS; TCR point leader Ryan Eversley and Adam Merzon in the No. 23 Case-it Racing by Flying Lizard Audi R8 LMS; and 2017 TC champion Paul Holton and Andrew Novich in the No. 78 Compass Racing McLaren 570S.
In the GTS Am category, Lime Rock Park GTS Overall race winner Drew Staveley of Salt Lake City leads the point standings with his No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 GT4 machine and will be the favorite at his home track this weekend.
Several BMW combinations are expected to contend in the GTS Am division this weekend including the Harvard-bound Aurora Straus and co-driver Jon Miller in the No. 36 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4. Straus has two class wins this year and is currently second in the Am class points.
Other top BMW M4 entries include Henry Schmitt and Greg Liefooghe in the No. 87 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 and Daren Jorgensen and Brett Strom in the No. 113 Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4.
Another Classic BMW entry (of seven Classic BMW entries at Utah) finds team leader Toby Grahovec, the former TC series champion, teaming with Chris Ohmacht in the No. 92 Fast Track Racing BMW M4 GT4 in the GTS Am category while Portland Round 8 winner Preston Calvert, who won the GT SprintX race at Utah in 2016, solo-pilots the No. 51 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT. Portland Round 7 Am runner-up Randy Mueller in the No. 3 Epic Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 is teaming with William Vanjonack of Chester Springs, Penn.
Other Single driver GT SprintX entries this weekend will include Jason Bell in the No. 2 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS; Jeff Burton in the No. 19 Rearden Racing Audi R8 LMS; Frank Gannett in the No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; Steve Burns in the No. 43 VP Racing Fuels/Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; Mark Pavan in the No. 54 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1, Road America GTS Am winner Mark Klenin in the No. 62 KPR/Premiere Copier McLaren 570S and Lime Rock GTS overall race winner Nicolai Elghanayan in the No. 71 Marco Polo Motorsports KTM X-Bow.
TCR Trio Eversley, Wilkins & Lewis To Continue Point Battle at Utah– TCR Preview
Round 9 and 10 for the all-new TCR class is expected to see the battle between Ryan Eversley, Michael Lewis and Mark Wilkins in the top-three points positions.
The debut of the all-new TCR touring car class this year brought in five TCR auto makers – Alfa Romeo, Audi, Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen – and the racing has been sensational at a variety of the 2018 tracks with Honda and Hyundai cars leading the way, driven by Eversley and Wilkins having three wins each and Lewis two in the first eight TCR races.
Eversley, a victor at VIR, Lime Rock and Portland, expanded his point lead to 17 markers after a solid Portland weekend in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR. Eversley’s competition has given him all he can handle at most events, but Ryan’s consistency has been the difference in the inaugural TCR season.
Lewis, in the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR, ranks second in points followed by Wilkins, in the No. 99 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR, in third. Two DNFs have hurt Wilkins’ run at the TCR title this weekend.
Joining the fight at Utah will be Mason Filippi in the No. 44 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR along with the strong effort of the FCP Euro by HRD team with drivers Michael Hurczyn and Nate Vincent in the No. 71 and 72 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCRs.
Three Audi Sport RS3 LMS machines are in the entry list for Utah with Anthony Geraci in the No. 69 Heinlein Racing Development Audi Sport RS3 LMS, 2017 TCA champion Matt Fassnacht in the No. 74 Fooji/Murillo Racing Audi Sport RS3 LMS and youngster J.T. Coupal in the No. 77 Compass Racing Audi Sport RS3 LMS.
Young sprint car ace Jarett Andretti, son of John, will be in the No. 18 Copeland Motorsports/Tilton Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in his first appearance at the Utah racing facility. Geraci’s Heinlein Racing Development teammate, Dwight Merriman, will pilot the team’s No. 73 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR entry.
Local Utah star Vesko Kozarov Tops Touring Car Field at UMC – TC Preview
Coming off a clean sweep weekend at Portland (2 wins, 2 poles), local racing star Vesko Kozarov of Salt Lake City must be listed as the TC favorite at his home track with the No. 3 Rearden Racing Nissan 370Z TC Spec. Kozarov has four TC victories in eight starts this year.
Karl Wittmer of Montreal, Que., Canada is second in the TC points with TC Rounds 9 and 10 set for UMC’s doubleheader weekend with his No. 91 Classic BMW BMW M235iR.
Wittmer leads the BMW M235iR competitors along with recent TC race winner Johan Schwartz in the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M235iR as well as Sean Quinlan in the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR; Robert Nimkoff in the No. 20 AutoTechnic Racing BMW M235iR; Richard Zulman in the No. 82 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M235iR; Henry Schmitt in the No. 87 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR; Matt Travis in the No. 26 Classic BMW BMW M235iR; Jayson Clunie in the No. 27 Classic BMW BMW M235iR; Sean Quinlan in the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR; and Greg Nitzkowski in the No. 09 DRS BMW M235iR.
Joining Kozarov with the Nissan contingent will be VIR TC race winner Steve Steimer in the No. 23 TechSport Racing Nissan and Paul Terry in the No. 33 Rearden Racing Nissan 370Z TC Spec.
It’s a 3-Make Contest with Honda, Subaru & Mazda in TCA at Utah – TCA Preview
Three auto makes have been in battle all season in the TCA category with Honda, Subara and Mazda fighting for victories in the first eight rounds in 2018.
Tom O’Gorman, also a three-time TCA winner, currently leads the TCA point standings with the No. 94 TOMO Racing/HPD/GRIDLIFE Honda Civic Si. Gorman has posted a 25-point lead with four events remaining in the 12-race series.
Leading the Subaru challengers at Utah will be three-time race winner Eric Powell in the No. 95 TechSport/BRZHQ.com/P2P Subaru BRZ tS coupe along with 2017 TCB champion P.J. Groenke in the No. 25 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS; Breton Williams in the No. 22 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS; Spencer Patterson in the No. 79 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS and Portland TCA double race winner Jeff Sexton in the No. 89 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS.
Jenny Gannett in the No. 10 Ian Lacy Racing Mazda Global MX5 Cup and Moisey Uretsky of Russia in the No. 55 Murillo Racing Mazda Global MX5 Cup lead the Mazda lineup in TCA this weekend at UMC.
3.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road circuit
Qualifying: (All times listed are MDT)
Saturday, August 11, 2018
8:35 AM – 8:55 AM Pirelli World Challenge – Touring Car
9:10 AM – 9:30 AM Pirelli World Challenge – GTS SprintX
9:45 AM – 10:05 AM Pirelli World Challenge – TCR/TCA
10:20 AM – 10:40 AM Pirelli World Challenge – GT SprintX
Races: (All times listed are MDT)
Live Internet Telecast (on www.world-challenge.com):
Saturday, August 11, 2018
11:30 AM – 12:10 PM Pirelli World Challenge – Touring Car Round 9 Race (40 minutes)
1:10 PM – 2:10 PM Pirelli World Challenge – GTS SprintX Round 9 Race (60 minutes)
2:30 PM – 3:10 PM Pirelli World Challenge – TCR/TCA Round 9 Race (40 minutes)
4:45 PM – 5:45 PM Pirelli World Challenge – GT SprintX Round 9 Race (60 minutes)
Sunday, August 12, 2018 (All times listed are MDT)
9:00 AM – 9:40 AM Pirelli World Challenge – Touring Car Round 10 Race (40 minutes)
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Pirelli World Challenge – GTS SprintX Round 10 Race (60 minutes)
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Pirelli World Challenge – TCR/TCA Round 10 Race (40 minutes)
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Pirelli World Challenge – GT SprintX Round 10 Race (60 minutes)
60 minutes (GT SprintX, GTS SprintX)
40 minutes (TCR/TC/TCA)
Television (on CBS Sports Network): All times listed re: CBS broadcasts are Eastern.
GT SprintX: August 22, 8:00 p.m. EDT
GTS SprintX: August 22, 9:00 p.m. EDT
TCR/TCA: August 26, 4:00 p.m. EDT
TC: August 26, 3:00 p.m., EDT