ALTON, Virginia – Following two weekends of traditional Pirelli World Challenge “sprint” competition, Global Motorsports Group would enjoy a string of podium finishes to kick off this year’s inaugural round of the new SprintX category. Featuring the same sprint racing excitement that has made the series so notorious, the newly developed SprintX category added the extra enhancement of two drivers campaigning each car, with drivers James Sofronas and Laurens Vanthoor taking a team-high third and second place during this weekend’s double header. Preston Calvert and Alec Udell would also show promise in the team’s sister car, taking a top finish of fourth. Mechanical woes would unfortunately sideline George Kurtz’s efforts in the team’s GTS-category entry.
“We’re very proud of the work the whole team put in this weekend,” stated Sofronas. “While we’re of course happy to have taken two podium finishes for the 14 car, the combined effort of everyone on this team made for a strong weekend, one that transcends the results. Laurens was an absolute standout, and it’s clear why he’s earned the right to be a Porsche factory driver. Not only was he incredibly fast, but he didn’t put one scratch on this car and had a great attitude all weekend. Preston and Alec also showed a lot of promise in the No.77 car, and they should be really proud of the effort they put in. Finishing fourth in a field this deep is no easy task, and with a little different fortune they might have even topped that in Sunday’s race. It was a really tough weekend for the latest member of the family, George Kurtz, and we don’t take the issues he had lightly. I’m extremely happy with the effort our guys put in all night to get him up and running, as well as the support from McLaren and Flying Lizard Motorsport, but unfortunately we just ran out of time. We’ll be that much better in Canada.”
Driving the No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club / Spyder Porsche 911 GT3 R, Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor would have a strong debut with the team, joining Sofronas to bolster one of the strongest driver pairings in the category.
During Saturday’s Race One, a near-perfect run by both drivers would actually show well for the duo, with Sofronas advancing the car to a clear podium position before handing the car to Vanthoor who would race for the victory. Setting some of the fastest laps in the field, the Belgian took the category lead in the closing laps, crossing the line in first place for what the team had assumed was a category victory. Unfortunately, a post-race penalty for a yellow flag violation would send the No. 14 down the order, ultimately being classified in third.
For Sunday’s Race Two, a penalty-free run would net another strong performance by the duo, this time with Vanthoor taking starting duties per series rule. Running right in the mix of the top drivers, the No. 14 Porsche would actually prove to be the fastest Porsche on track, with Laurens doing his best to gain ground on the field in front of him before handing over to Sofronas for the closing laps. With the car comfortably in second, the Villa Park, California resident found himself gaining on the No. 54 Mercedes, and while Sofronas would do an excellent job of narrowing the gap in his quest for the lead, the team simply ran out of time and would settle in for their second podium finish of the weekend.
Meanwhile, the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R of Preston Calvert and Alec Udell would show similar potential. During Saturday’s Race One, Calvert would make his return to the venerable GT3 R machine, doing a great job to set consistent lap times and make zero mistakes. Handing the car off to teammate and team development protégé Alec Udell, the No. 77 would gain as much ground as it could, ultimately finishing fourth.
Unfortunately for the team, the highlights would stop there. During Sunday’s Race Two, Udell would set a strong series of lap-times fighting with some of the biggest names in the sport when an unexpected contact with the No. 44 Audi would send him spinning in to the barriers in the tricky Turn 16-17 complex. Unable to continue, Alec would have to step out of the car, their race being over.
“It was a difficult way to end the weekend,” stated Udell. “I had moved up 6 positions to p10 and then the #44 audi took an overly optimistic move into T16 resulting in contact with my rear wheel. Once the contact happened, I was along for the ride, I’m frustrated to say our day ended there. I can’t express my appreciation enough to Preston, everyone at Calvert Dynamics as well as GMG for the opportunity. I’m sure we’ll be stronger in Canada.”
For Preston Calvert, a similar sentiment is shared.
“It wasn’t the weekend we were hoping for, but there were some positives,” stated Calvert. “Alec ran some really good lap times, and I was happy to have such a clean stint during the first race. In a race like this having a caution flag at the right time makes all the difference, and things didn’t quite go our way but a fourth is still a good result. Sunday’s race was definitely difficult, but these things can happen. Alec was really racing well with the top guys in the sport, and that’s just part of it.”
Unfortunately, George Kurtz and the team’s CrowdStrike McLaren 570S GT4 entry in the GTS class would suffer a significant setback. After a strong series of practice sessions, a cut tire created damage on some of the cars critical systems. A series of electrical and mechanical issues were found forcing the team to work through the night to fix. Trying to make sure that they were ready for Saturday’s race, the team simply ran out of time despite working through the night, and instead had to re-focus their efforts to making sure the car was perfect for Sunday’s Race Two.
Unfortunately, Sunday didn’t fair much better as the gremlins presented themselves again and the car was forced to retire during the opening lap of the race.
With three weeks until the next round of SprintX action, GMG and the Pirelli World Challenge will next head to the famed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, formerly known as “Mosport.” The series will once again feature a double-header, with Race One taking place on Saturday, May 20, and Race Two on Sunday, May 21.
Founded in 2001 by James Sofronas, GMG has quickly established itself as North America’s premier performance tuning and racing facility. What began as a small 1,200 sq. ft. shop, maintaining two race cars, has grown into a 30,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art performance tuning, racing and service facility located in (Orange County) Santa Ana, California. The staff’s experience, attention to detail, and passion are what make GMG the choice of professionals and enthusiasts world wide. Whether you want to maximize the performance of your street car, or race wheel-to-wheel on both amateur and professional racing series across North America, GMG’s reputation for service and quality is unmatched.
Learn more at www.gmgracing.com
About The Thermal Club
The Thermal Club is the premier private motorsports facility in the world. In addition to 4.5 miles of members-only racetrack, the Club facilities include a fully amenitized Clubhouse and Village unrivaled in the motorsports world. All 4.5 miles of our exquisite racetrack are designed to push both amateurs and professionals to their limit, giving members the thrill of driving at peak performance amidst the endless desert skies. Featuring three different private circuit configurations, trackside villas, a motorsport village with a state-of-the-art clubhouse, tuning shop, a fuel island, as well as member storage garages, The Thermal Club will bring the country club lifestyle to Southern California’s diverse car culture.
Learn more at www.thethermalclub.com
About Mobil 1
Conventional oil is simply refined crude oil. Mobil 1 synthetic oil, however, is not only refined, but it is also distilled, purified, and broken down into its basic molecules. It is then rebuilt and added to, so that it can better protect against wear, high heat, cold weather and sludge buildup. Ultimately, this process helps your car’s engine run better for longer. You can explore more about these benefits below.
Learn more at www.mobiloil.com.
With an extensive client base of leading global brands, CrowdStrike will be utilizing the Pirelli World Challenge as a hub for experiential entertainment, B2B networking, and as a forum for meeting with a litany of customers, prospects and partners. Race weekends will include executive-level security industry roundtables, combined with VIP access to the most compelling aspects of each racing venue. With a premium on forging and solidifying relationships, the utilization of both the series and GMG offers a great opportunity for the company to extend their platform.
You can learn more about CrowdStrike’s involvement in motorsports at crowdstrikeracing.com.
About 5.11 Tactical
5.11 Tactical. 5.11 Tactical is an Irvine, California-based brand of clothing consisting of uniforms and tactical equipment for military, law enforcement and public safety personnel. The company also operates a chain of retail stores, with 13 locations as of January 2017.
Learn more at www.511tactical.com.