Point Leaders Parente, Long Prime Contenders in PWC GT Action Set for This Weekend at Road America
Some 60 cars in Pirelli World Challenge competition at legendary road circuit
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The Pirelli World Challenge Championships GT sports car battle between 2016 GT champion Alvaro Parente and 2011 GT titleholder Patrick Long started last year and has continued in 2017 as the two racing stars head to legendary Road America this weekend (June 22-25) for Rounds 4 and 5 in the PWC Grand Prix presented by VP Racing Fuels.
The hotly-contested GT division of the Pirelli World Challenge has seen its championship fight go right down to the final race the past two years. In fact, the 2016 battle went down to the last lap of the season when Portugal’s Parente clinched the driver, the team (K-PAX Racing) and manufacturer (McLaren) titles. Parente captured six GT races and five pole positions in 2016.
Long, the veteran Manhattan Beach, Calif., driver in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, took Parente to the final lap last year before surrendering the title at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by a few points. And, in 2017, the two drivers are separated by just one point, 70-69, in the GT sprint standings.
The personable Parente has returned to defend his GT class championship in the familiar No. 9 K-PAX McLaren 650S against Long and a sensational GT lineup that includes the world’s top sport car manufacturers including Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche with the best GT drivers in the world.
Sixty PWC entries are scheduled to compete at the historic four-mile, 14-turn road circuit north of Milwaukee as part of the Kohler Grand Prix as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series weekend. In addition to the GT/GTA/GT Cup divisions, the popular GTS and Touring Car categories will race in two events during the weekend.
Outstanding GT driver and car field set for another doubleheader at Road America
The Parente-Long GT confrontation has continued in 2017 with the McLaren GT racer scoring two wins (St. Petersburg 1 and Long Beach) with Long, the factory Porsche driver in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, with one win (St. Petersburg 2), one second (Long Beach) and one third (St. Petersburg 1). A single point separates them in the 2017 GT sprint series and the two drivers are tied (135) for second in the overall GT (GT Sprint and SprintX rounds) championship behind overall leader Cadillac’s Michael Cooper (145).
Taking on Parente and Long in Rounds 4 and 5 this weekend at Road America will be the four-time GT champion Johnny O’Connell, winner of 20 GT races in six years of PWC competition, and his young Cadillac teammate Cooper, who finished third in the GT points as a GT rookie in 2016. O’Connell returns with his red No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. while Cooper, the GT SprintX winner at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last month with Jordan Taylor, will drive the blue No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.
In addition to Long, the popular Porsche ranks at Road America will include multi-time sports car champion Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stalling Racing “Red Dragon” Porsche 911 GT3 R as the Oregon driver enters his second season in the GT division. Another young Porsche star at Road America is college student Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Tex., who’ll drive the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 R. Udell is a mechanical engineer student at Clemson University and won the GT Cup title in 2016.
A strong contender at Road America will be former 24 Hours of Daytona champion Ryan Dalziel, the Scotland native who now resides in Windermere, Fla., at the controls of the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes AMG GT3. Dalziel is a SprintX winner this year already at VIRginia International Raceway with Canadian Daniel Morad. Another Mercedes-AMG GT3 entry this weekend will be Brazil’s Alexandre Negrao in the No. 92 MCC Motorsports machine.
Two of the most popular entries in the GT class at Road America will be from Saukville, Wis.-based RealTime Racing with drivers Ryan Eversley of Atlanta and Peter Kox of The Netherlands in the new Acura NSX GT3 sports cars. Eversley, driving the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3, enjoyed the weekend of his racing career last year at Road America with dominant victories in the two 50-minute GT features in his RealTime Racing Acura TXL-GT.
Kox, in the No. 93 RealTime Acura NSX GT3, has been the test driver with the Acura NSX machine from last year and knows the car better than anyone. After a impressive performance recently at Lime Rock Park, the two Acura racers could again be factors at Road America.
A couple of successful sports car veterans make their Pirelli World Challenge debuts at Road America this weekend when popular Bryan Sellers serves as Parente’s K-PAX Racing teammate in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S and Germany’s Pierre Kaffer takes the wheel of the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS in the double header race weekend.
Look for young Italian star Daniel Mancinelli to be in the mix at Road America in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 after winning a pole at St. Petersburg and victory in SprintX at VIR.
A dark horse in the GT division at Road America will be young Adderly Fong in the No. 87 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3 after winning the pole last year at the famed track and finishing second and third in the two main events.
Solid lineup of veterans and youngsters should have great races in 2017
Current GTA point leader Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., was a winner last year at Road America in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, a team car to Long’s Porsche. Last year, Schein made a late season charge after champion Martin Fuentes but fell short for second. In 2017, Schein has won numerous times in SprintX with pro driver Jan Heylen and figures to be a favorite this weekend in GTA.
Veterans such as James Sofronas in the No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Mike Hedlund in the No. 98 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S, Tim Pappas in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 and John Potter in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS will make it difficult for Schein and as the foursome are expected to be in the hunt for victory lane at Road America.
Other drivers entered in the GTA division at Road America include former SprintX and GT Cup winner Preston Calvert in the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911, GT3 Jorge de la Torre in the No. 04 De la Torre Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3, veteran Mike McCann in the No. 82 McCann Racing McLaren 650S GTS, young Yufeng Luo in the No. 78 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3, former Indy Lights racer Pablo Perez Companc in the No. 69 Champ 1 Mercedes AMG GT3 and Florida’s Marc Muzzo in the No. 013 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3.
GT Cup Preview
Ferrari vs Lamborghini this weekend at Road America
The GT Cup division will have three entries at Road America this weekend with Serbia’s Marko Radisic in the popular No. 11 Precision Driving Ferrari Challenge Evo taking on the Lamborghini pair of California’s Ricco Shlaimoun in the No. 25 Dime Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo and Japan’s Yuki Harata in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo.
GTS Presented by Case●It Preview
Wild cars and close racing makes the class a fan favorite
The GTS class will have quite the collection of sports cars in the Road America paddock area this weekend. Last year, the division saw the inclusion of the new GT4 machinery such as the KTM Xbow, Ginetta G55, SIN R1 GT4 and Lotus Evora against the muscle cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang.
Now there are even more new GT4/GTS cars are in the mix with the likes of the McLaren 570S GT4, Porsche Cayman Clubsport GT4, Panoz Avezzano GT and the unveiling of the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. and the Ford Mustang GT4.
Leading the GTS pack this year is the four-time PWC champion Lawson Aschenbach brings the new No. 10 Chevy Camaro GT4.R sports car for the legendary Blackdog Speed Shop operation from Chicago. Aschenbach captured four races in 2016 but the Vanderbilt University grad hasn’t won yet in 2017 and holds a large lead in the GTS standings. He must be a favorite at Road America.
Local Wisconsin racer Jeff Courtney of Milwaukee brings his popular No. 99 RecStuff.com/Kenda/JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 to Road America and nearly won there last year. At VIR, Courtney scored a pole position and two runner-up finishes.
Recent double GTS race winner Rodrigo Baptista of Spain in the No. 3 Porsche Cayman Clubsport GT4 was impressive at Lime Rock Park and will contend for the GTS win at Road America as well as his teammate, the 17-year-old phenom Nate Stacy, who placed second in the final standings and became the youngest GTS class winner last year. Stacy also jumped to the vaunted Flying Lizard Motorsports team to handle the No. 14 Porsche Cayman Clubsport GT4.
Getting even younger in the class at Road America is the Performance Motorsports Group duo with 16-year-old Parker Chase in the No. 19 PMG Ginetta GT4 and 17-year-old Harry Gottsacker in the No. 29 Ginetta GT4. Chase made numerous runner-up finishes and podium places but didn’t make it to the top of victory lane, and the Texas teenager looks primed for his first PWC GTS win. Both Chase and Gottsacker have also been racing in Europe this year.
Another youngster to contend at Road America will be Ernie Francis Jr. in the No. 40 PF Racing/ Breathless Racing Ford Mustang GT4 as the Florida racer had won races in a variety of categories throughout his youth.
The new Panoz entry in GTS has become a factor with veteran Ian James in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT car including podium showings at Lime Rock Park. Watch for James at Road America this weekend. And top veteran entered is two-time 2017 pole winner Martin Barkey in No. 80 KTM Xbow.
Veteran Tony Gaples is Aschenbach’s teammate for Blackdog Speed Shop in the No. 11 Chevy Camaro GT4.R. and leads the GTS Am division in the current PWC points.
Other drivers in the GTS Am category at Road America will be VIR race winner Jason Bell in the No. 2 Racer’s Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4; Lime Rock race winner Mark Klenin in the No. 62 KPR/ Tender Belly McLaren 570S GT4; George Kurtz in the No. 04 Crowdstrike/GMG McLaren 570S GT4; Adam Merzon in the No. 017 Case-It Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR; Cameron Cassels in the No. 018 Case-It Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR; Bill Ziegler in the No. 9 Ziegler Racing/ANSA Motorsports KTM X-bow GT4; Drew Staveley in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; Austin Versteeg in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM Xbow GT4; Frank Gannett in the No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; James Pesek in the No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang; Chris Beaufait in the No. 45 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4; and Fred Roberts in the No. 89 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4.
Touring Car Preview
Touring Car Invitational bringing in some strong machines
An impressive group of BMW M235iR cars are set to compete at the famed four-mile Road America road circuit led by defending TC class champion, Toby Grahovec of Celina, Tex., in the No. 1 Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR. The former SCCA national champion from Chicago was the model of consistency last year and scored two runner-up placings at Road America in 2016.
Contending with Grahovec will be last year’s series third place finisher, Montreal’s Nick Wittmer, who moves over to drive the new No. 91 ST Racing/GPI Inc./Laurel BMW of Westmont, Ill., BWM M235iR along with his teammate, college student Samantha Tan of Gormley, Ont., Canada, in the No. 38 ST Racing/GPI Inc./Laurel BMW of Westmont, Ill., BWM M235iR. Wittmer scored two TC victories in 2016.
Local racer Gino Carini of Milwaukee and his No. 2 Classic BMW leads the rest of the BMW M235iR entries which also includes Stefan Sajic in the No. 18 Zima Motorsports/Laurel BMW Of Westmont/ Centers For Pain Control BMW M235iR; Jayson Clunie in the No. 26 Classic BMW BMW M235iR; Marko Radisic in the No. 36 Zima Motorsports/Laurel BMW Of Westmont/Centers For Pain Control BMW M235iR and Max Fedler in the No. 05 Max Fedler Racing BMW M235iR.
Also entered in the Touring Car division at Road America will be 75 Nicholas Barbato in the No. 75 GenRacer Genesis Coupe and Jeff Ricca in the No. 78 GenRacer.com/Enthuspec Genesis Coupe.
14-turn 4.04-mile road course
Qualifying: (All times listed are CDT)
Saturday, June 24, 2017
8:35 AM – 9:05 AM Pirelli World Challenge – GT/GTA/GT Cup
9:20 AM – 9:50 AM Pirelli World Challenge – GTS/TC
Saturday, June 24, 2017 (All times listed are CDT)
4:30 PM – 5:20 PM Pirelli World Challenge – GT/GTA/GT Cup Race 1 (50 minutes)
5:45 PM – 6:35 AM Pirelli World Challenge – GTS/TC Race 1 (50 minutes)
Sunday, June 25, 2017 (All times listed are CDT)
9:55 AM – 10:45 AM Pirelli World Challenge – GT/GTA/GT Cup Race 2 (50 minutes)
2:45 PM – 3:35 PM Pirelli World Challenge – GTS/TC Race 2 (50 minutes)
50 minutes (all races)
Television (on CBS Sports Network): All times listed re: CBS broadcasts are Eastern.
GT/GTA/GT Cup: June 25, 3:00 PM (Same-day coverage)
GTS/TC: July 5, 8:00 PM