Alton, Virginia – Alec Udell already has three Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) races – and two wins – under his belt in 2017 but this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge at VIR opens a brand new season for the resident of The Woodlands, Texas. The SprintX Championship begins with two rounds on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIRginia International Raceway (VIR). The 21-year old will be making his first start in the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R co-driving with Dr. Preston Calvert (Potomac, Maryland) in the 60-minute races.
SprintX is an outgrowth of North America’s premier sprint format GT racing series. Now in its first full season as a championship, there are ten rounds spread across five race weekends. Races are 60-minutes long rather than 50-minutes and each car has two drivers with a mandated pit stop for a change. The first two rounds are here at VIR, then two races each at both Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Lime Rock before June. The season will conclude at Utah Motorsports Park – where Calvert is the defending winner of both races – in August and Circuit of the Americas – Udell’s home track – in September.
The majority of his career, which started in karting at age five, Udell has focused on single-driver formats and shorter distance races. He debuted in SprintX last year at the season-finale having wrapped-up the PWC GT Cup Championship a race early. Co-driving with Brent Holden in the Euroworld Motorsports GMG-prepared 911 GT3 R, the pairing finished in sixth-place for both races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The opportunity gave the Clemson junior a taste of sharing a car, the higher-horsepower GT3-spec machines and the SprintX format. He opened the 2017 race season driving in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Daytona International Speedway co-driving a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in the four-hour race with Carter Yeung and Andy Lee. His only other previous start in a two-driver entry came in 2014 when he raced a Porsche 911 GT America in the IMSA GT Daytona class at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
While seemingly subtle, the difference between racing solo or with a teammate is the need to compromise on car setup. Each driver pilots a car differently and to maximize performance the car’s suspension and aerodynamics are adjusted to his or her particular preference and style. When a car is shared, the setup is a compromise for both.
Additionally, a two-driver program requires a driver change at approximately 25-minutes into the one-hour race. While the Pro-Am class in which Udell, the “Pro”, and Calvert, the “Am”, compete has a mandated minimum time a stop must take, attention must be spent maximizing the efficiency of the change. Furthermore, once complete, the driver now in the car must get into full race pace immediately. There is no time to build into the rhythm like the starting driver enjoys.
Udell and Calvert will be sharing the car for the first time at the Promoter’s Test for SprintX on Thursday, April 27. The first official on-track practice will be a 50-minute session, Friday at 10:30 a.m. ET followed by a one-hour session at 3:30 p.m. Qualifying for “Am” drivers is 15-minutes on Saturday morning at 10:40 a.m. followed at 11:05 a.m. with another 15-minutes for “Pros”. Race 1 takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. Race 2 will start on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. The 60-minute races can be seen live at www.world-challenge.com and on the CBS Sports Network at 6:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, May 7.
Alec Udell |
“Preston called me at the beginning of the year asking if I wanted to co-drive with him in SprintX. I was very excited to get the call! Preston and I have been running against each other in PWC for a few seasons now and both have had great experience learning the Porsche platform in the GT3 Cup cars. Preston had a great run in his GT3 R last season in SprintX, we’re ready for the new competition coming to the class for this season.”
“VIR is a track that I’ve been to a couple of times, however I’ve not had the opportunity to drive on it. I can’t wait to get on it and turn some laps. It is a beautiful track, full of history. It is a welcome addition to the Pirelli World Challenge schedule and I think it will be a great place to race the 911 GT3 R.”
About Alec Udell |
Alec Udell is a junior studying engineering at Clemson University. The 21 year-old from The Woodlands, Texas began his racing career in karting at age five. He went on to win the Rotax National Points Championship in 2008 and represented his country as part of Team USA in Egypt in the World Championships in 2009. By 2011, he made history by becoming, at the time, the Pirelli World Challenge’s youngest ever competitor at age 15. He has 15 career Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup class wins entering the season and is the 2016 PWC GT Cup Champion.
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