SANTA ANA, Calif. – Closing out the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season with the same emphasis that has carried Global Motorsports Group (GMG) throughout an incredible year, driver / team owner James Sofronas would clinch two separate championships during the weekend’s series finale at Watkins Glen International. On the heels of two consistent finishes, Sofronas would clinch both the GTS Overall Championship as well as Sprint Championship, securing a clean sweep of SprintX, Sprint, and Overall championships. Additionally, drivers George Kurtz and Jason Bell would finish the season on a high, with Bell taking his first podium and Kurtz taking consecutive top-fives.
“This has just been an incredible year,” stated Sofronas. “We knew coming in to the weekend that we just had to keep it clean and stay out of trouble, and the results speak for themselves. This couldn’t have been possible without an amazing car from Audi Sport customer racing. It came out-of-the-box ready to race, and in a championship like this you need to not only be fast but reliable, and that has been critical in our season. Of course none of this would have been possible without an incredible group of guys. A car is only as reliable as the team of people looking after it, and the fact that we had ZERO mechanical problems, running every lap of every race, shows just how attentive to detail everyone is. Being able to celebrate with two great teammates in Jason Bell and George Kurtz just made it that much sweeter. Jason closed his year with the best finish of his season, and it was great to see him walk away with some hardware. George has had tremendous speed all year, and we were all happy to see a couple of clean races net consistent top-fives.”
Driving the No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club / 5.11 Tactical Audi R8 LMS GT4, James Sofronas entered the weekend knowing that he simply needed to keep his nose clean to walk away with a championship sweep of the year.
For Saturday’s Race One, James would start from the fifth row, putting him in the uncomfortable position of taking the opening lap from the middle of the field at a time when he simply needed to avoid incident. With a championship focus at the forefront, the Villa Park resident would negotiate the opening laps without error, finally settling in to a rhythm as the race went on, advancing a couple positions, and ultimately finishing seventh. Most notably, the points from seventh would net James a mathematic clinch of the overall GTS series title, the biggest prize of the season.
With the biggest pressure off for Sunday’s Race Two, Sofronas would now turn his attention to winning the series’ Sprint Championship, once again just needing to finish in the top-10. Starting from the third row, James would thankfully enjoy a quiet race, settling in to sixth and with only light pressure from behind. Well within the top-10, the result would net James the final title on offer, providing the statistically most successful season of Sofronas’ 25-year career.
In the No. 2 Audi R8 LMS GT4, Jason Bell would enjoy a banner weekend as well. Following an up-and-down season in which he joined the GMG organization halfway through, Bell would finally enjoy a performance where all of his strengths came together.
During Saturday’s Race One, Bell would turn a ninth row start in to a hard fought seventh-place class finish. Not only was Saturday’s effort an impressive climb through the field, but equally noteworthy his fastest lap would set him further up the grid for Sunday’s Race Two.
During Sunday’s Race Two, Jason would enjoy a series of battles throughout the race, advancing several positions and finding himself in a podium position by time the checkered flag fell. The result would serve as his best of the year, finally enjoying a podium after a challenging season.
“What a weekend for myself and the entire GMG Racing Team,” explained Bell. “We unloaded and were pretty quick right off the trailer so we fine-tuned from there. It was nice to have our team cars up front and to end the season strong. Our results in the last half of the year are a true testament of the hard work and teamwork from everyone at GMG.”
For George Kurtz, a promising season was closed with a series of fourth-place class finishes.
On Saturday, Kurtz’s seventh row qualifying would translate to a clean start, avoiding the chaos inherent in the series’ midfield, working on the cars in front of him to eventually take fourth.
On Sunday, a similar grid position would provide a similar result, battling hard with teammate Jason Bell throughout his race to ultimately take fourth, and finally enjoying a clean series of races. On the year, Kurtz would take four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes.
“Watkins Glen gave us a great holiday weekend of racing,” said Kurtz. “I was able to get a lot of seat time in the Audi R8 during these final two Sprint events and finish in the top five in both races. Thanks to GMG Racing, once again, for an excellent car prep and congratulations to the team for their triple championship this season.”
With the Pirelli World Challenge’s traditional season at a close, the 2018 season still continues with not only an invitational event at the upcoming California 8 Hour at the end of October, but with several other grassroots and local events for GMG and their driver development system.
Additional announcements will follow shortly.
About The Thermal Club
Established in 2012, The Thermal Club is a private motorsports country club surrounding one of the longest and most distinct racing circuits in North America. Located near Palm Springs CA, the exclusive club offers members access to three racetracks, kart track, autocross, skid pad, tuning shop, garage, detail shop, clubhouse restaurant and spa. One of the defining attributes of The Thermal Club are the luxury villa-homes that are built next to the track and overlook the facility. For more information visit www.TheThermalClub.com.
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.
Spyder was founded by avid skier and outdoor athlete David Jacobs. He rose to world-class rankings as a competitive skier, and stayed connected to the sport he loves by coaching, designing related products, and building one of the most powerful brands in the industry. His dedication to the sport of skiing and the Spyder brand is as inspiring as it is intriguing. Spyder’s growth exploded over the turn of the century, and the company is now the largest ski-specialty brand in the world. David has recently discovered the adrenaline rush in racing classic Formula One cars, finding success – not surprisingly – in this new pastime. For a man who’s thrived on sports, technology, and professional advancement, the world is sure to see David go a few more times around the track.
Learn more at www.spyder.com