Porsche teams will return to Florida February 23 – 24 to prepare for the next round of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The two-day test at Sebring International Raceway will pit four Porsche 911-based programs against the 3.74-mile, 17-turn facility in anticipation of the 65th Running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 18. While a popular testing site for the German marque – the newest Porsche 911 RSR ran a single test of over 5,000 miles at the Sebring, Florida-area track during the winter – this is the only “official” series test at the former airfield.
Four teams running Porsche 911-based racecars will test alongside 30 other entries. The Porsche GT Team, the official factory program, will bring one of its two Porsche 911 RSRs to fine-tune for Round Two of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. The No. 912 will be piloted by “works” drivers Patrick Pilet (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Dirk Werner (Germany) for the test.
Three teams will run the 911 GT3 R, Porsche’s entry into the GT Daytona (GTD) class, over the course of the two days. Alegra Motorsports, winner of the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, brings the No. 28 for drivers Carlos de Quesada (Tampa, Florida), Daniel Morad (Canada) and Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia). de Quesada and Morad raced the car at Daytona while Pumpelly, an experienced and championship-winning Porsche driver, was calling strategy for the team. CORE autosport has Jonathan Bennett (Charlotte, North Carolina), Colin Braun (Harrisburg, North Carolina) and Nic Jönsson (Buford, Georgia) gathering information for their first-year program with the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R. Park Place Motorsports, backed by Texas’ largest Porsche dealer, will test the No. 73 with Porsche factory Jörg Bergmeister (Germany), team principal Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) and 2016 Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate Matt McMurry (Phoenix, Arizona).
Cars will be on track for the first of four practice sessions on 9:00 a.m. ET, Thursday, February 23. A total of 15-hours of track time will be available before the final checkered flag falls at 5:00 p.m. ET, Friday, February 24.
The Public Life of Hurley Haywood. Porsche Legend Named Mitty Grand Marshal
Porsche will be the featured marque when Speedfest at the Classic Motorsports Mitty presented by Hagerty and sanctioned by Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) returns to Road Atlanta April 21-23. And the event’s grand marshal will be a racer who is closely tied to the brand: Hurley Haywood.
Haywood’s association with Porsche began more than 45 years ago; during that time he’s driven Porsches to victory five times at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, three times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and twice at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The most successful endurance driver from North America is now a regular on the vintage race circuit, he has competed many times with HSR, the race sanctioning body behind the Classic Motorsports Mitty, including at the inaugural Classic 24 Hour at Daytona.
Haywood will be signing autographs for fans at the Mitty on Saturday afternoon, April 22, in the infield’s Classic Motorsports tent. That will be followed by a special party for VIP ticket holders, sponsors and special guests, who will have the opportunity to spend time with him and hear colorful stories from his racing career. 200 VIP tickets, as well as regular admission tickets for the race weekend, are available http://www.themitty.com .
This year’s Mitty will also offer the ultimate adventure for Porsche fans, a road tour from the Porsche Experience Center to Road Atlanta on Friday, April 21. The Porsche Experience Tour presented by Michelin is limited to just 50 cars and will include a tour of the auto manufacturer’s enthusiast-focused headquarters in Atlanta. Following that, participants will drive the Georgia back roads to Road Atlanta for a parade lap of the track.
The weekend’s centerpiece HSR vintage racing will continue to offer plenty of appeal for Porsche fans, with the Porsche Classic devoting two different feature races to the marque. The Mitty will also welcome the return of the HSR Classic RS Cup series, which rekindles the thrill of the original 1970s International Race of Champions (IROC) Porsche race series featuring Porsche 911 Carrera RSRs.
In addition to his Grand Marshall duties at The Mitty, Haywood was the official starter for this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona and will be Grand Marshall of the upcoming Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18.
Haywood is an Ambassador of Porsche Jacksonville (Jacksonville, Florida), for decades known as Brumos Porsche, and currently serves as Chief Driving Instructor for the Porsche Sport Driving School at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to being a Porsche spokesperson, the Hurley Haywood Scholarship was announced earlier this year to help provide a young IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge driver partial funding to compete in the one-make series. A new recipient will be named each year.
Extra Innings. CJ Wilson Takes First Steps to Full-Time Driving in GT3 Cup Challenge
When CJ Wilson hung-up his cleats from professional baseball earlier this year, he made no secret that he was going to spend his “retirement” behind the wheel of a racecar. The owner of CJ Wilson Racing – a program running a pair of Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class – has turned his full athletic focus to driving. During the Rolex 24 At Daytona race weekend, Wilson announced he had purchased a 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and would enter it under his team’s banner in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama in 2017.
The former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher took his first steps towards that goal recently during a two-day test at Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas. Working closely with driving instructor and team driver Marc Miller (Holland, Michigan), Wilson began lapping the road course in one of the team’s Cayman GT4 Clubsports graduating up to the “Cup car” over the course of the test.
The test proved successful as Wilson was able to acclimate himself to the one-make series’ spec Yokohama racing tire and narrow the gap to the target lap time set by Miller. Additionally, the team ran a full race distance to help give Wilson a concept of the mental and physical demands required for the 45-minute sprint races that comprise the two-race weekends of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge events.
CJ Wilson, Driver/Owner, CJ Wilson Racing.
“It’s great to take another step towards my goals. We had a chance to burn through two sets of tires today and I made a lot of progress. Having Marc as my coach was incredibly helpful because we have a lot of faith in each other and communicate using the same terms. Having sat in driver debriefings for the past six years with the race team, I was able to take all the input logically and make progress each session. The only odd thing about the test is that nobody else was here, which was the first time I have ever been on a track completely alone, so when we did a race simulation I had to use my imagination. TWS is a really fast and bumpy track. Looking forward to getting back in the car in ten days and pick up where I left off.”
Marc Miller, Driving Coach, CJ Wilson Racing.
“CJ did great job, but I expected as much. He is logical and methodical which makes him easy to help and that translated into a very quick progression along the learning curve. Like any professional athlete though he is never truly satisfied because he wants to be perfect. He took quickly to the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. It is confidence inspiring and such a capable platform so that suited him well in getting up to speed. Overall, it was a successful first outing and I look forward to working with CJ this season. I expect he will have a solid debut at Sebring. He better or I’m likely fired.”