Strong 104 Pirelli World Challenge Entry List Set for COTA, Tripleheader for SprintX to Decide Championships
CTMP SprintX Make-Up Race Part of PWC Grand Prix of Texas Weekend
AUSTIN, Texas – Pirelli World Challenge SprintX championships will be on the line this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in the annual PWC Grand Prix of Texas with a strong 104 overall entry list set to battle on the state-of-the-art 3.427-mile, 20-turn road circuit southwest of Austin.
COTA officials have prepared for the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey in the Austin area and drainage will continue through the week until PWC action gets underway Friday with practice, qualifying and the CMTP SprintX Round 4 Make-up feature at 7:30 p.m. CDT. Testing is also scheduled for Thursday.
In addition to the three SprintX events to determine the 2017 titles, the PWC Grand Prix of Texas will have doubleheader races at COTA in the GTS/GT4 divisions (GTS/GTS Am) and the Touring Car classes with TC, TCA and TCB categories.
Rounds 4 (Friday), 9 (Saturday) and 10 (Sunday) for SprintX (60-minute, two-driver format) will feature a 34-car field for the weekend action led by an impressive list of sports car machinery including Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche.
Plus, the overall GT championship is incredibly close with Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., leading at 259 followed by Michael Cooper of Syosset, N.Y., at 254, Alvaro Parente of Portugal at 251, Daniel Mancinelli of Italy at 219 and Johnny O’Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., at 202. Five GT races (Sprint and SprintX) remain in the 2017 campaign and COTA’s tripleheader could be a title changer.
Battles continue in the GTS and Touring Car ranks for the coveted PWC series championship with 23 GTS entries and 47 Touring Car competitors set for races Saturday and Sunday at COTA.
All Pirelli World Challenge races this weekend will be live streamed on www.motortrendondemand.com and www.world-challenge.com, and seven feature races (SprintX, GTS and TC) will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network; the SprintX tripleheader will be televised on CBS Sports Network on Sept. 10 at 3:30 p.m. EDT, while GTS will be shown on Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. and TC on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. EDT.
Superb Fields Set for Tripleheader at COTA for Title Runs – SprintX Preview
The extremely-competitive SprintX division has put in some spectacular racing in the first seven rounds this year with six separate teams and manufacturers capturing a round including Peter Kox and Mark Wilkins taking Acura’s first 2017 win at Utah in the all-new RealTime Racing NSX GT3 and Mancinelli and Niccolo Schiro scoring Ferrari’s second SprintX win (Utah) with the TR3 Racing 488 GT3.
Other SprintX GT winners this year include CRP Racing, Cadillac Racing, Wright Motorsports and Magnus Racing and all are expected to contend for COTA SprintX victories this week.
The 34-car SprintX field will compete this weekend with world-class drivers set for Friday (Sept. 1) at 7:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday (Sept. 2) at 4:00 p.m. CDT and Sunday (Aug. 13) at 12:30 p.m. CDT in the GT Pro/Pro, Pro/Am and Am/Am categories as well as GT Cup and GTS. Previous SprintX weekends were held at VIRginia International Raceway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock Park and Utah Motorsports Campus.
At COTA this weekend, Long, a three-time 2017 winner and a COTA victor last year, will match up with endurance sports car star Jörg Bergmeister of Germany in the SprintX doubleheader in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with Cooper co-driving with Jordan Taylor of Orlando, Fla., in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. Cooper and Taylor won the CTMP Round 3 SprintX event and the Cadillac pair currently lead the GT SprintX Pro/Pro class points with 141.
Parente, a four-time GT Sprint race winner this year and reigning GT champion, pairs up with young open-wheel star Ben Barnicoat of England in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S this weekend at COTA.
With the three GT overall point leaders leading the 34-car (64-driver) lineup at COTA, other top GT SprintX runners include 2017 SprintX race winners: VIR winners and second in SprintX points, Ryan Dalziel of Scotland and Daniel Morad of Canada in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3, Double SprintX winners Mancinelli and Schiro of Italy in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3; Lime Rock winning car, No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi RS 8 LMS of Pierre Kaffer of Germany and Spencer Pumpelly of Atlanta and the Utah-winning pair Kox of The Netherlands and Wilkins of Toronto in the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3.
But those contenders are just a portion of the Pro/Pro division with another contingent of challengers led by four-time PWC GT champion and former COTA winner O’Connell and 24 Hours of Daytona champion Ricky Taylor of Apopka, Fla., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS.V-R., Bryan Sellers of Braselton, Ga., and young Michael Lewis of Laguna Beach, Calif., in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S, Ryan Eversley of Atlanta and Tom Dyer of Corte Madera, Calif., in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3, Road America winner Adderly Fong of Hong Kong and recent 24 Hours of Spa runner-up Vincent Abril of Monaco in the No. 88 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3, and an impressive duo in the Dallas-based No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing “Red Dragon” Porsche 911 GT3 R with Oregon’s Jon Fogarty and Germany’s Wolf Henzler.
In very competitive Pro/Am SprintX class, point leaders Jan Heylen of Tampa, Fla., and Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y. in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R have won four races this year. Heylen and Schein must be favorites in the SprintX tripleheader but the list of contenders is large and led by VIR winners Jeroen Bleekemolen of Monaco and Tim Pappas of Boston, Mass., in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3; the No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R of James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., and talented Mathieu Jaminet of France; John Potter of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Marco Seefried of Austria in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi RS8 LMS and VIR pole winner Mike Skeen of Charlotte and Mike McKann of North Canton, Ohio in the No. 82 McCann Racing Audi RS8 LMS.
Former GTA class champion Frankie Montecalvo of Highlands, N.J., and his driving partner Ricardo Sanchez of Mexico in the No. 75 Always Evolving/AIM Autosport Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 could be a Pro/Am threat after winning two poles already in 2017. Other Pro/Am contenders include former GT Cup champion Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Tex., and two-time Utah SprintX winner Preston Calvert of Potomac, Md., in the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics/Euroworld/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 R; and Cedric Sbirrazzuoli of Monaco and Lawrence Degeorge of Jupiter, Fla., in the No. 07 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
GT Am-Am class point leader Henrique Cisneros of Miami, Fla., and Peter Ludwig of New Platz, New York., in the No. 30 MOMO/NGT Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 lead the division at COTA along with and James Dayson of Vancouver, B.C., Can., and GTSA regular Jason Bell of Tampa, Fla., in the No. 23 M1GT Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra; Walt Bowlen of Tarpon Springs, Fla., and Lars Viljoen of England in the No. 24 M1GT Racing Audi R8 LMS and Jorge de la Torre of McAllen, Tex., and Ate DeJong of the Philippines in the No. 04 De la Torre Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Others scheduled to compete in SprintX at COTA this weekend include GT Cup Pro/Am racers Allesandro Bressan/Yuki Harata in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo and Andy Lee/Erich Joiner in the No. 95 Tool Racing Porsche 911. Additional entries for SprintX at COTA are Joe Toussaint/Cory Friedman in the No. 90 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and Conrad Gruenwald/James Weiland in the No. 18 R3 Motorsports Ferrari Challenge (Am/Am), plus GTS competitors Adam Merzon/Trent Hindman in the No. 017 Case-It Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR (Pro/Am) Derek Deboer/Sean Gibbons in the No. 09 Lasalle Solutions/Adobe Road Winery/TMG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4; Craig Lyons/Kris Wilson in the No. 03 Mobettah/Stor It Self Storage/Lasalle Solutions/Adobe Road Winery/TMG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4; Cameron Cassels/Phillip Bloom in the No. 018 Case-It Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR; Greg Liefooghe/Aristole Balogh in the No. 019 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M3 E46 and Jason Hart/Mike Vess in the No. 47 NOLAsport Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR (all in Am/Am).
Tough GTS Classes Fighting for Points at COTA – GTS presented by Case-It Preview
Some of the latest GTS racing in the Pirelli World Challenge has been within inches of each car at recent contests at Mid-Ohio and Utah and that element is expected to continue at COTA. 23 GTS entries are schedules to battle door-to-door, bumper-to-bumper at the popular COTA road circuit for Round 15 and 16 this Saturday and Sunday.
Current point leader Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the two-time GTS champion, holds a healthy point lead (70 points) entering the COTA weekend in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4R. Aschenbach won at COTA last year and looks to extend his point advantage with four races remaining in the 2017 season.
The leading race winner in GTS this year is veteran Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in the popular No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT after scoring victories at Road America (two wins), Mid-Ohio and Utah. James currently ranks second in the GTS standings.
The Flying Lizard Motorsports duo of Spain’s Rodrigo Baptista and 17-year-old Nate Stacy of Owasso, Okla., will be among the contenders this weekend with their No. 3 and No. 14 Flying Lizard Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR sports cars, respectively. Baptista is a two-time winner in 2017.
A trio of local Texas drivers will be factors in the GTS doubleheader at COTA with Austin’s Scott Dollahite, a pole winner last year at COTA, in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora; 16-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunsfels, Tex., in the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 and Mid-Ohio pole winner Harry Gottsacker of San Antonio in the No. 69 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55.
Former GTS race winner Martin Barkey of Huntsville, Ont., in the No. 80 MBRP Performance Exhaust KTM Xbow is third in the current GTS points and could be a factor in both GTS races at COTA and PWC veteran Jeff Courtney of Milwaukee, Wis., will wheel his popular No. 99 Kenda/RecStuff.com Maserati GT4 this weekend. Courtney won the pole at VIR earlier this year.
The Ian Lacy Racing team will bring a Ginetta G55 sports car to COTA for Drew Staveley of Salt Lake City, Utah, coming off a second-place finish at Utah in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing/GT3 Racing Ginetta G55.
In the GTS Am class, the hottest driver has been entrepreneur George Kurtz of Paradise Valley, Ariz., with seven consecutive victories in his No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG McLaren 570S sports car and Kurtz has now taken over the class point lead.
VIR winner Jason Bell of Tampa will be in the middle the action with his No. 2 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 as well as Aschenbach’s Blackdog Speed shop teammate, Tony Gaples in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4R.
Coming off a second in GTS Am at Utah, Frank Gannett of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in the No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing/GT3 Racing Ginetta G55 figures to another challenger in GTS Am at COTA.
The Case-It Racing teammates Adam Merzon of Greenwich, Conn., and Cameron Cassels of Coldstream, BC, Canada, also will be contesting in their No. 017 and No. 018 Case-It Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR machines, as well as Lime Rock racer winner Mark Klenin of Lone Tree, Colo., in the No. 62 KRP/Tender Belly McLaren 570S GT4; Bob Michaelian of Seal Beach, Calif., in the Racers Edge No. 45 SIN R1 GT4; Bill Zeigler of Ponte Vedra, Fla., in the No. 9 ANSA Motorsports KTM XBow; Dakota Dickerson of San Diego, Calif., in the No. 25 ANSA Motorsports KTM XBow; Carter Young of Los Angeles in the No. 7 GMG/HK Battery Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR; Keith Jensen of Puerto Rico in the No. 47 NOLAsport Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR; and Brett Meredith of Newport Beach, Calif., in the No. 64 GMG Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
The GTS presented by Case-It events will be 50-minute sprint races on Friday and Saturday.
30 Touring Car entries ready for action at Utah – TC/TCA/TCB Preview
Some of the best racing in the Pirelli World Challenge this year has come in the Touring Car class and after the first eight rounds that is expected to continue this weekend with a 30-car field at COTA.
Young Paul Holton of Orlando, Calif., and his new No. 71 C360R Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport has been the TC trendsetter this year with wins at the TC Rounds 1 and 3 and comes to COTA as the TC class point leader. Veteran Nick Wittmer in the No. 91 ST Racing/GPI Inc./Laurel BMW of Westmont, Ill., BWM M235iR is expected to challenge Holton and the other strong TC field.
In addition to Wittmer’s BMW sedan in TC this year, a strong group of BWM M235iR cars are set to to do battle at COTA led by defending TC class champion, Toby Grahovec of Celina, Tex., in the No. 1 Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR. Grahovec won last year at COTA to help gain his first PWC title and the personable Texas racer has to be listed as a contender in Saturday and Sunday’s TC events.
Contending with Holton, Wittmer and Grahovec will be three-time TC race winner Greg Liefooghe, in the No. 20 ART Racing/Steve Cameron Racing BMW M235iR as well as Wittmer’s teammate, college student Samantha Tan of Gormley, Ont., Canada, in the No. 38 ST Racing/GPI Inc./Laurel BMW of Westmont, Ill., BWM M235iR.
TC ‘Rookie of the Year” Anthony Geraci, of Glen Cove, N.Y., won a pole position at VIR in the new No. 69 S.A.C. Racing Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport sedan should be a factor at COTA as will young (age 19) Mason Filippi of Alamo, Calif., who has a TC victory in CTMP in his No. 12 Winding Road Team BMW M235iR.
Another top contender based out of New York is BERG Racing led by team owner and last year’s Utah race winner John Weisberg of Webster, N.Y., who campaigns the No. 5 REDCOM Laboratories/Micro Precision Components/BERG Racing Mazda MX–5. Joining the BERG Racing team at Utah is young Jason Coupal of Rochester, N.Y., in the No. 009 REDCOM Laboratories/Micro Precision Components/BERG Racing Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport. Coupal currently ranks third in TC points.
The 30-car Touring Car field also features Gino Carini in the No. 2 Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR; former COTA winner Vesko Kozarov in the No. 3 Rearden Racing Nissan 370Z; Rodrigo Sales, in the No. 8 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR; Derek Kulach in the No. 16 Zorro Racing Nissan 370Z; Randy Hale in the No. 17 Hale Motorsports Mazda MX-5; Stefan Sajic, in the No. 18 ZIMA Motorsports BMW M235iR; Aristotle Balogh, in the No. 19 ART Racing BMW M235iR; Matt Travis in the No. 26 Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR; Robert Nimkoff, in the 28 AutoTechnic Racing BMW M325iR; Justin Raphael, in the No. 29 Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR; former race winner Travis Washay in the No. 32 Indian Summer Racing Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport; Chetan Puranik, in the No. 36 ZIMA Motorsports BMW M235iR; Dan Honovich in the No. 75 GenRacer Genesis Coupe; Jeff Ricci in the No. 78 GenRacer Genesis Coupe;Anthony Magagnoli, in the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M235iR; Jacob Ruud in the No. 81 Winding Road Team TFB BMW M235iR; Henry Schmitt, in the No. 87 in the BMW of San Francisco BMW M235iR; Chris Ohmacht, in the No. 92 Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR; Joshua Foran in the No. 93 Team HMA Honda Accord; Karl Wittmer, in the No. 99 Honda Ste-Rose Honda Accord; and Daren Jorgensen in the No. 065 Rearden Racing BMW M235iR.
S.A.C. Racing teammates Fassnacht, Goulart Fighting for TCA Title – TCA Class Preview
Defending TCA series champion Elivan Goulart of Shelton, Conn., is getting challenged for his reigning title entering the COTA events in the No. 70 S.A.C. Racing/SCDA1.com Mazda Global MX–5 Cup car. S.A.C. Racing teammate Matthew Fassnacht of Madison, N.J., in the No. 74 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup is the one applying the pressure to Goulart for the 2017 TCA championship.
Both drivers are favorites this weekend at COTA along with another list of contenders including Utah winner Shea Holbrook of Orlando, Fla., the winningest woman in PWC history. Holbrook debuted her new No. 67 Bubba Burgers/Lucas Oil Honda Civic Si at Utah Motorsports Campus and didn’t disappoint with a pole position and TCA race victory.
Fighting Goulart, Fassnacht and Holbrook at COTA will be the 2016 TCB series champion and CTMP TCA winner Tom O’Gorman of Mason, Ohio, who’ll drive the all-new No. 94 HPD/Black Armor Helmets/Gridlife Honda Civic Si for Shea Racing.
Joining Fassnacht and Goulart in the S.A.C. Racing team at COTA will be Daniel Moen of Rindge, N.H., in the No. 73 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5.
Another Utah winner, Kenny Murillo of Santa Rosa, Calif., comes to COTA as a favorite with the No. 33 Murillo Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup car along with his teammate Tim Probert of Houston, Tex., in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup car.
Eric Powell of Orlando, Fla., will be another top runner in the No. 23 Tech Sport Racing Mazda MX–5 Cup, as well as with Daniel Williams of Scottsbluff, Neb., in the No. 22 Tech Sport Racing Scion.
Others to watch in the 10–car TCA field include local racer Jeff Sexton of Austin, Tex., in the No. 89 Winding Road Team Mazda MX-5 Cup machine. Sexton has many laps at COTA in his racing career.
Point fight continues at COTA in TCB – TCB Class Preview
With O’Gorman, the 2016 champion, moving to TCA in 2017, the series championship has proven to be a three-driver battle in 2017.
Touring Car B–Spec or TCB is the most cost-effective class but the competition supplies some of the most popular door–to–door racing and bumper-to-bumper drafting in all of the Pirelli World Challenge series.
Young Canaan O’Connell, son of four-time PWC GT champion Johnny O’Connell, comes to COTA with his No. 24 Tech Sport Racing Chevrolet Sonic. O’Connell has moved into third in the TCB standings behind leaders Jake Pipal and Canadian P.J. Groenke. Canaan has three TCB victories in 2017.
Groenke of Richmond Hill, Ont., Canada raced O’Gorman right down to the final race before settling for second in the 2016 championship. Groenke recently a victory at Utah and he’ll drive the No. 25 Tech Sport Racing Chevrolet Sonic this weekend at COTA
Pipal, the 19-year-old from Oakdale, Calif., has enjoyed a good year thus far in his Jake Pipal Racing/Carbotech Brakes Mazda 2 with two wins and consistent runs in the other events.
Other contenders in TCB this weekend include Blake Thompson of Oak Creek, Wis., in the No. 37 ISellMiataParts.com Mazda 2; Jasper Drengler of Shawano, Wis., in the No. 01 Drengler Racing/Chimney Mechanix Honda Fit; Taylor Handwerk of Shawano, Wis., in the No. 77 Indian Summer Racing Mini Cooper and Ted Sahley of Cleveland, Ohio, in the No. 02 Believeland Motorsport Mazda 2.