While it still may be the off-season for Pirelli World Challenge, the team at Flying Lizard Motorsports has been functioning at full speed, preparing for its two car assault in the GTS class championship, beginning in March. The team recently took delivery of two new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR race cars at its facility in Sonoma Raceway, kicking the 2017 race reason preparations into full gear.
In October, the team announced it would be expanding its customer racing program by returning to its Porsche roots, entering two full season Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR race cars in the Grand Touring Sedan (GTS) class. The following week, 17 year old GTS driver Nate Stacy, who finished second in the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GTS Drivers Championship, was announced as the first driver to sign on for the new program.
Last week, Brazilian race car driver Rodrigo Baptista signed with Flying Lizard Motorsports, completing the two car lineup for the 2017 season. The twenty year old racer began his pursuit of the sport in 2012, winning the Sao Paulo Go-Kart Championship the following year. In 2015, Baptista advanced from go karts to South American F3, and finished fourth in the 2015 Formula 3 Brazil Championship, also competing in the Brazilian Touring Car Championship. Last season, Baptista was named an official Audi Racing Driver, and joined Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in the Blancpain GT Series.
“I’m excited to join the Flying Lizard family,” said Baptista. “There’s no better start in this new chapter in my racing career here in the United States. As I am coming from a European series, everything will be a new challenge for me and I like that. I can’t wait to drive the new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. I want to say thank you to my sponsor, HT Pro, to my family, always supporting my decisions and to everyone helping me so far.”
Baptista will participate his first test in the new car later this month.
While the team begins preparation on the new cars back at the shop, this week Nate Stacy will travel to Germany with Flying Lizard Team Principal and Program Manager Darren Law to participate in a driver fitness camp at the Potsdam University Outpatient Clinic in Brandenburg. This is the same program Porsche’s Factory GT drivers, Junior drivers, and others are invited to undergo physical evaluations and rigorous training in preparation for the approaching race season. Following the fitness camp, Stacy and Law will also visit the Porsche Research and Development Center in Weissach and meet with other Porsche representatives in Stuttgart.
“I am really looking forward to the upcoming season,” said Law. “We have signed two great drivers in Nate Stacy and Rodrigo Baptista. They are both young and have very credible racing backgrounds. We are thankful for our relationship with Porsche. Not only do they produce great cars but they are very supportive of their teams. Having the opportunity to take our drivers to Germany and put them through the fitness program and visit Porsche helps them to understand the history and culture of the brand.
The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GTS class championship begins March 10-12 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Racing in conjunction with the GT, GTA, and GT Cup classes, as well as the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will showcase a variety of racing to suit every fan. For more information, visit world-challenge.com.