Pirelli World Challenge Returns to Watkins Glen Int’l This Weekend In Important Season Finale Doubleheader for Point Championships
PWC back at legendary road circuit for first time in eight years
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – An eight-year absence from the historic Watkins Glen International road course has created excitement for the Pirelli World Challenge racers in the PWC Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by TM Performance this weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) at the famed 3.4-mile, 11-turn circuit in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
A strong field of competitors from seven different classes will battle for coveted PWC point championships this Saturday and Sunday in the doubleheader sprint races for North America’s top GT Production-based road racing series.
An impressive international driver field will bring 27 different auto manufacturers with 34 separate models when practice rounds begin Friday morning for the final weekend for the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge campaign.
Among the title chases at Watkins Glen International include GT and GTS Overall, GT and GTS Sprint as well as the three Touring Car categories – TCR, TC and TCA.
All eight of this weekend’s PWC sprint races from Watkins Glen International will be live-streamed on www.world-challenge.com and the World Challenge YouTube Channel
GT/GTA Preview – Vilander, Hargrove & Christensen in GT Overall, Sprint fight for point titles
Coming off a double-win weekend in Utah a few weeks back that secured the GT SprintX crown, Finland’s Toni Vilander seeks two more GT championships this weekend with his No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 in the two 50-minute sprint races at Watkins Glen International. Vilander leads the GT Overall standings, but ranks second to young Canadian Scott Hargrove, in the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, in the GT Sprint points.
And throw in Denmark’s Michael Christensen, the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans class champion driving the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, and the trio could put on quite a show in each of the GT contests set for Saturday at 1:15 p.m. EDT and Sunday at 1:20 p.m. EDT.
The K-PAX Racing pair of former GT champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3, and young star Rodrigo Baptista of Brazil, in the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3, will be in the “upset” mode for the three title contenders as each has scored GT race wins this year.
Long Beach GT Sprint race winner Daniel Mancinelli of Italy returns to Pirelli World Challenge competition this weekend in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 and the young Italian has been quick this year in the GT Sprint action. Watch out for Mancinelli in both 50-minute events.
Another impressive young racer comes to Pirelli World Challenge for the first time in 2018, as Mario Farnbacher of Germany comes to the “Glen” with the No. 93 HART Acura NSX GT3 and the NSX return to GT competition. The Acura NSX won one GT SprintX race in 2017 in PWC. The CRP Racing team has entered the popular No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 with 2017 GT SprintX champion Michael Cooper scheduled to be at the wheel.
The 2016 GTA champion, Martin Fuentes of Mexico, leads the GTA class at Watkins Glen International Road America as he drives the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3. Fuentes has scored four GTA wins in 2018 and captured the GT SprintX Am-Am title at Utah earlier this month.
Young Parker Chase will miss the Watkins Glen weekend due to a family commitment, but Long Beach GTA race winner Yuki Harata of Japan will be a top contender for Fuentes this weekend in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Harata was the 2017 GT Cup champion.
Also set for GTA competition will be recent Utah GT SprintX Am winner David Askew of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and young Anthony Imperato of Brooklyn, N.Y., in the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
GTS/GTSA Preview – Sofronas, Staveley Look to Continue GTS Championship Chase this weekend
GTS racers James Sofronas and Drew Staveley, newly-crowned GTS SprintX champions, will seek to add more title hardware to their mantles this weekend in the two 50-minute GTS events set for Saturday at 3:45 p.m. EDT and Sunday at 11:05 a.m. EDT.
Sofronas, driving the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 sports car, leads the GTS Sprint points as well as the GTS Overall standings as the New York native attempts to score a coveted trifecta in the GTS. The California resident won two Pirelli World Challenge championships last year in the GT divisions.
Chasing Sofronas this weekend in the point battles at Watkins Glen is 19-year-old Harry Gottsacker, a two-time race winner in the No. 69 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, for the GTS Overall title, while five-time PWC series champion Lawson Aschenbach ranks second with the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R after four GTS Sprint race wins.
Veteran Ian James is a four-time GTS race winner in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4 must be listed as favorite at the “Glen” as will two-time 2018 GTS SprintX race winner Jake Buford in the No. 55 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 and young star Patrick Gallagher in the No. 10 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4.
The popular two-car team of Robinson Racing will be in contention at Watkins Glen with Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R machines for Gar Robinson and Shane Lewis. Robinson and Lewis will be in the No. 72 and No. 74 Robinson Racing 74 Ranch Camaro GT4.R machines.
In the GTSA class, Utah’s Staveley has shown the speed with his potent No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 GT4. Staveley has to be a contender this weekend after claiming the GTSA SprintX crown.
Among the Glen challengers in GTSA will be George Kurtz, the nine-time 2017 GTSA race winner with the No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG Audi R8 LMS, as well as recent GTSA race winner Preston Calvert in the No. 51 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4, veteran Tony Gaples, in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, race winner Mark Klenin, in the No. 62 Premiere Copier/KPR McLaren 570S, and Road America race winner Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati Grand Turismo GT4.
Courtney trails Staveley by just six points in the GTSA Sprint point standings, 123-117.
Other GTSA contenders for the Watkins Glen doubleheader races include Jason Bell, in the No. 2 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4; Orey Fidani, in the No. 13 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR; Adam Merzon, in the No. 23 Case●It Racing by Flying Lizard Audi R8 LMS; Frank Gannett, in the No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; James Pesek, in the No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 and Steve Burns, in the No. 43 VP Fuels/Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55.
Veteran Mike Hedlund, currently tied for third in GTSA points, will be a GTSA challenger this weekend in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS along with Henry Schmitt, in the No. 88 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 and Fred Roberts, in the No. 89 JCR Motorsports Maserati Grand Turismo GT4.
TCR Preview – Eversley leads Lewis & Wilkins in TCR point title in Glen Shootout
It’s been a three-way confrontation all season in the new TCR category in the Pirelli World Challenge with all three contenders – Ryan Eversley, Michael Lewis and Mark Wilkins – each tasting champagne at the top of the winner’s podium.
The initial season of the all-new TCR touring car class witnessed in five TCR auto makers – Alfa Romeo, Audi, Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen – and the racing has been outstanding with Eversley putting together a consistent campaign in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR car with three race wins and six other podium (top-three) finishes to hold the series point lead entering Watkins Glen.
Lewis, the Californian in the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR, has closed in on Eversley for the driver’s title, now trailing the Atlanta racer by seven points with two 40-minute sprint events set for Saturday at 2:35 p.m. EDT and Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EDT. Lewis has captured four races this year including a double win weekend two weeks ago in Utah.
Wilkins, the Canadian in the No. 99 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR, is third in TCR points with three race wins in 2018. Lewis and Wilkins’s Hyundai cars will carry Hyundai Hope On Wheels (HHOW) livery at Watkins Glen. HHOP is a Hyundai’s charitable initiative that supports Pediatric Cancer research and September is National Pediatric Cancers Awareness month.
Young Mason Filippi, in the No. 44 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR, is looking for his first TCR podium and could be in the mix along with the FCP Euro by HRD team with drivers Michael Hurczyn and Nate Vincent in the No. 71 and 72 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCRs, respectively.
Other VW entries at Watkins Glen will be USAC sprint car racer Jarett Andretti, in the No. 18 Copeland Motorsports/Tilton Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR and Dwight Merriman, in the No. 73 Heinlein Racing Development Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR entry.
Audi Sport RS3 LMS will have four entries this weekend with Jerimy Daniel in the No. 2 The Racing Company Audi Sports RS3 LMS, Anthony Geraci in the No. 69 Heinlein Racing Development Audi Sport RS3 LMS, J.T. Coupal in the No. 77 Compass Racing Audi Sport RS3 LMS, and Eddie Killeen in the No. 37 TWOth Autosport Audi Sport RS3 LMS.
TC Preview — Nissan’s Kozarov Heads Up Big BMW Contingent This Weekend
Utah’s Vesko Kozarov has all but clinched the Touring Car division point championship with six race wins, including four straight triumphs with the No. 3 Rearden Racing Nissan 370Z TC Spec. Kozarov is the favorite at the “Glen” in Rounds 11 and 12.
Canada’s Karl Wittmer is currently second in the TC points with his No. 91 Classic BMW BMW M235iR with veteran Johan Schwartz in the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing/West Virginia University BMW M235iR in the third position.
Wittmer and Schwartz pace the BMW M235iR racers with Robert Nimkoff in the No. 20 AutoTechnic Racing BMW M235iR; John Allen, in the No. 21 AutoTechnic Racing BMW M235iR; Matt Travis in the No. 26 Classic BMW BMW M235iR; Jayson Clunie in the No. 27 Classic BMW BMW M235iR; Jacob Ruud, in the No. 81 Winding Road Racing BMW M235iR; Henry Schmitt in the No. 87 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR; Anthony Serra, in the No. 02 AutoTechnic Racing BMW M235iR; Bruce Wexler, in the No. 09 DRS BMW M235iR, and Greg Nitzkowski in the No. 09 DRS BMW M235iR.
Joining Kozarov with the Nissan lineup will be VIR TC race winner Steve Streimer in the No. 23 TechSport Racing Nissan, while veteran Jeff Ricca brings his No. 78 GenRacer Genesis Coupe to Watkins Glen along with Jason Stanley in the No. 75 GenRacer Genesis Coupe.
The husband and wife team of John and Dinah Weisberg of New York lead the Mazda TC entries with their BERG Racing Mazda MX-5 TC Spec cars with Dennis Hanratty Jr., running the No. 40 Krugspeed Lotus Exige this weekend.
Road & Track Magazine contributing editor Jack Baruth brings his No. 31 RTF Racing Honda Accord to the TC doubleheader weekend.
TCA Review – O’Gorman Leads his TOMO Racing Honda Civic Si to Watkins Glen
Young Tom O’Gorman, a five-time TCA winner this year, tops the TCA point standings with the No. 94 TOMO Racing/HPD/GRIDLIFE Honda Civic Si coming to the Watkins Glen season finale.
O’Gorman, the former TCB series champion, has been impressive in recent TCA races after fighting door-to-door with veteran Eric Powell in the No. 95 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS in the first half of the 12-race PWC tour.
Joining Powell at Watkins Glen in the Subaru contingent will be 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.
Coming to Watkins Glen this weekend for their PWC debut will be popular Mini Cooper race cars of Nelson Chan and Alain Lauziere in the No. 45 and 46 Team Octane Mini Cooper JCW machines.
Jenny Gannett in the No. 10 Ian Lacy Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup and Jose DaSilva in the No. 07 Ives Motorsports Mazda Global MX-5 Cup lead the Mazda lineup in TCA this weekend, while Travis Washay will have the lone TC Volkswagen with the No. 30 Indian Summer Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI.
PWC Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by TM Performance
3.4- mile, 11-turn permanent road circuit
Saturday, Sept. 1
8:35 AM – 8:55 AM TC Qualifying
9:10 AM – 9:30 AM GT/GTA Qualifying
9:45 AM – 10:05 AM TCR/TCA Qualifying
10:20 AM – 10:40 AM GTS/GTSA Qualifying
50 minutes (GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS/GTSA)
40 minutes (TCR/TCA, TC)
Live Internet Telecast (on world-challenge.com and World Challenge YouTube channel):
Saturday, Sept. 1
11:30 AM – 12:10 PM TC Race 1
1:15 PM – 2:15 PM GT/GTA Race 1
2:35 PM – 3:15 PM TCR/TCA Race 1
3:45 PM – 4:45 PM GTS/GTSA Race 1
Sunday, Sept. 2
9:00 AM – 9:40 AM TC Race 2
11:05 AM – 12:05 PM GTS/GTSA Race 2
1:20 PM – 2:20 PM GT/GTA Race 2
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM TCR/TCA Race 2