AUSTIN, Tex. – The 2019 SRO America race season begins this weekend at Circuit of the Americas, where Flying Lizard Motorsports will debut their new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. Racing in both the Sprint and SprintX championships, the fan-favorite team will run 31 races this year across the Pirelli GT4 America calendar, with Michael Dinan as the full season driver in the No. 21 Porsche. Robby Foley will join Dinan for the SprintX events, starting with the season opener in Austin, Texas.
The team took delivery of the new car just one week before the season opener, and immediately began to prepare the car for the approaching season, getting the car set up for testing and completing the two day shakedown at Circuit of the Americas.
“It was a lot of work to get done in such a short time,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “The car came straight from the factory, and our guys had plenty of turn around to complete before we could be race ready. We got it gone and were able to give Michael and Robby a couple days of track time in preparation for this weekend’s event.”
Flying Lizard had a successful run the last time the team ran a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport at the Austin Circuit. In 2017, the team earned a victory and a third place finish with driver Rodrigo Baptista, who expertly managed his tires in blistering conditions to secure his double podium weekend.
The 2019 season will begin with the SprintX double header, consisting of two sixty minute races. The first driver of the Flying Lizard Motorsports pairing will start race one, and the second driver will take over during a mid-race pit stop to complete the event. The order will swap for race two, with the second driver taking the opening stint, and the first driver finishing the race.
Both Dinan and Foley first competed with Flying Lizard Motorsports in 2018 at the Pirelli World Challenge GTS SprintX doubleheader at Utah Motorsport Campus. The 2019 season will mark both Dinan and Foley’s first full season of competition in the newly rebranded SRO America Series, Pirelli GT4 America.
Dinan began club racing in the MX-5 Cup series in 2018 before joining Flying Lizard Motorsports for the Utah double header. The format of the 2019 Sprint and SprintX championships will allow Dinan to receive ample track time, competing in a total of 31 races across North America.
Joining as Dinan’s co-driver in the SprintX races and driver coach in the Sprint events, Robby Foley brings with him professional experience in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge’s GTD class, where he’ll also compete for the 2019 season.
Built in 2012 as a grade 1 FIA specification permanent road course, Circuit of the Americas sits less than 13 miles from the heart of Austin. The 3.427 mile track hosts 20 turns and sweeping turns and 133 feet in elevation changes. In preparation for another season of racing, the track surface has recently been milled, which will result in faster tire degradation.
The Engineering: From Team Engineer Jim Bell
We ran the first generation of this car two years ago, and although it’s not the same car, it’s similar in many ways. The car was delivered on Saturday the 23rd, and we immediately got it aligned, off the pad, and gave it a good shakedown. We took what we learned from our 2017 COTA setup, and applied some of that to our first shakedown set up. After getting a good read on the car, we tried a second set up, which the car responded well to. Overall, the car was good, and the drivers got good time out of it.
For a track like Circuit of the Americas, it’s important to keep the damping at a minimum. If you put too much shock in, it’ll eat the tires. This track is high speed in the esses, and has long, medium speed turns. We have to set the car up so that it can be agile and get over to the next turn. At this track, the braking modulation will need to be very good to ensure we don’t overuse the brakes. Even though we’ll have lower temperatures than normal this weekend, we’ll still reach high brake temperatures here. Since the track surface has been milled, we’ll also be paying very close attention to tire degradation.
Rounds one and two of the Pirelli GT4 America championship will stream live on www.world-challenge.com, beginning Saturday March 2nd at 1:05PM and Sunday, March 3rd at 10:10AM U.S. Central, respectively. Live timing for all test and practice sessions will be available on here.
Michael Dinan | No. 21 Porsche Cayman Clubsport GT4 | GT4 Pro/Am Class
“I’m very excited for the start of the 2019 season. I have always dreamt of racing one day and am thrilled to kick off my first full race season. The time has flown by since everything fell into place with Flying Lizard. Our new Porsche GT4 just landed from Germany a few days ago, so we have been in a crunch preparing for the season’s start. Thank you to everyone at Flying Lizard Motorsports for doing an excellent job and working hard getting the car ready for our initial shakedown. The test this past weekend was my first time at Circuit of the Americas, so it was nice to be able to familiarize myself with the track and the new car. I’m happy with the progress we made throughout the weekend and am looking forward to our first race this weekend at COTA.”
Robby Foley | No. 21 Porsche Cayman Clubsport GT4 | GT4 Pro/Am Class
“We had a great weekend in our new Porsche. As with any new car there is a large list of test items to run through, but I feel good about the progress we made as a team. Michael did a great job adapting to the new car and track. I think we’re in a good spot heading into our first race of the season next week. Huge thanks to the entire team for their hard work all week. We ran through a lot of major changes and they didn’t miss a beat.”