Sensational PWC SprintX Field Set for Utah This Weekend With 5 Different Teams & Manufacturers Already in 2017 Victory Lane
Overall GT Drivers Point Leaders Long, Cooper & Parente Separated by 6 points
GRANTSVILLE, Utah – The competitive level of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GT SprintX division has proven to be one of the best in all of sports car racing this season. And the action should continue to be hot and heavy this weekend (Aug. 11-13) at Utah Motorsports Campus in the Security National Mortgage Supercar Grand Prix of Utah.
After five rounds in the 60-minute, two-driver format, the SprintX GT campaign has seen five different teams (TR3 Racing, CRP Racing, Cadillac Racing, Wright Motorsports and Magnus Racing) in victory circle representing five separate auto manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Cadillac, Porsche and Audi) as Rounds 7 and 8 are set for the high-speed 3.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road circuit southwest of Salt Lake City.
A sensational 32-car SprintX field is set to do battle this weekend with drivers from across the world competing in the two 60-minute features set for Saturday (Aug. 12) at 1:40 p.m. MDT and Sunday (Aug. 13) at 12:30 p.m. MDT in the Pro/Pro, Pro/Am and Am/Am categories.
With stellar lineups in spectacular machinery such as Acura, Audi, Aston Martin, Bentley, Cadillac, Ferrari, Lamborgini, McLaren, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche, the racing is expected to be as fierce as in the earlier rounds at VIRginia International Raceway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Lime Rock Park.
In addition to the fight for the SprintX race wins, the Pirelli World Challenge GT Overall point title has tightened considerably after the Mid-Ohio GT Sprint races were dominated by reigning GT champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal in his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S.
Three-time PWC GT race winner Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., currently holds a three-point advantage over Cadillac’s Michael Cooper of Syosset, N.Y., 223 to 220, with Parente just three more points behind Cooper at 217 in the current Overall GT standings. The Overall GT championship includes a total of 19 races in both the GT Sprint and GT SprintX classes.
The same three battled down to the wire for last year’s PWC GT title with Parente, Long and Cooper finishing 1-2-3. Now they are back at it again with five SprintX races and two GT Sprint events remaining on the Pirelli World Challenge schedule.
“The competition in PWC since I first sampled this series back in 2006 has just gone upward,” said Long, the 2011 PWC GT champion now driving the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. “There are two ways to go out on a weekend – one is that you can sit back, text on social media about BoP and why your car isn’t the fastest or you can get your head down and race some of the best drivers in GT racing globally.”
“It’s a great series and its formulating some future stars. I want to be part of this championship and enjoy my racing. I think the competition level is high when you have factory drivers from GM (General Motors), McLaren, and Porsche and others. It will be a fight to the end again.”
Long will team with endurance sports car star Jörg Bergmeister of Germany this weekend at Utah in the SprintX doubleheader while Cooper will pair 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 duo currently lead the GT SprintX Pro/Pro class points with 107.
Parente, a four-time GT Sprint race winner this year, will match up with young open-wheel star Ben Barnicoat of England in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S this weekend at Utah.
“I’m very happy for our perfect weekend at Mid-Ohio,” said Parente. “It’s very important to capitalize on those moments and that’s what we did. I’m 100 per cent more confident when the car is working well and we’ve been able to have great results. You can go to the track and you know exactly where you’re going to be strong and not-so-strong. There are always little surprises but, for sure, the knowledge helps a lot. Patrick is driving extremely well and he’s been very consistent. They’ve been very strong at every race track. It will be a very healthy and hard fight into the end zone so we’ll see what happens.”
While the three GT overall point leaders will gain much of the attention at Utah this weekend, the other GT SprintX contenders sport a strong lineup led by 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, VIR winner Daniel Mancinelli of Italy teaming with Niccolo Schiro also of Italy in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3; and the Lime Rock winning machine, No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi RS 8 LMS of Pierre Kaffer of Germany and Spencer Pumpelly of Atlanta.
But the Pro/Pro division brings more competition with another group of challengers led by former Utah double winner Johnny O’Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., 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 two-time Utah SprintX winner 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 a strong pairing in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing “Red Dragon” Porsche 911 GT3 R with Oregon’s Jon Fogarty and Germany’s Wolf Henzler.
In another highly-competitive class, Pro/Am SprintX, point leaders and three-time race winners Jan Heylen of Tampa, Fla., and Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y. in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R figure to be the favorites at Utah but the contender list is a big one led by Jeroen Bleekemolen of Monaco and Tim Pappas of Boston, Mass., in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, winners at VIR; the CTMP-winning No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R of James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., and series newcomer Mathieu Jaminet of France; local favorites John Potter of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Marco Seefried of Austria and another Utah-based team of Aaron Povoledo of Toronto and David Askew of Salt Lake City in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The No. 75 Always Evolving/AIM Autosport Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 of Frank Montecalvo of Highlands, N.J., and Ricardo Sanchez of Mexico is expected to be a Pro/Am threat at Utah after winning two pole positions already in 2017. Other challengers in the Pro/Am division this weekend 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; former Formula One racer Will Stevens of England and Andrew Kim of South Korea in No. 78 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3; and Cedric Shirrazzuoli of Monaco and Lawrence Degeorge of Jupiter, Fla., in the No. 07 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
This weekend’s Utah Motorsports Campus Supercar Grand Prix of Utah will get underway with practice and qualifying set for Friday (Aug. 11) and racing on Saturday (Aug. 12) and Sunday (Aug. 13).
All of the Pirelli World Challenge races on Saturday and Sunday (SprintX, GTS and Touring Car) can be viewed live on www.motortrendondemand.com and www.world-challenge.com.