The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season opens on Friday, March 10 with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Case-It. The 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit on the city streets of St. Petersburg, Florida will feature 11 different Porsche Motorsport products across four races – two races each for GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS classes. The Pirelli World Challenge (PWC), North America’s premier sprint format GT racing series, will have five event weekends, ten races in the Sprint Championship – which opens on Friday with a 50-minute GTS class feature – and ten more races at five additional venues for the SprintX Championship’s 60-minute races. The SprintX title chase begins at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), April 28-30.
The pinnacle of the PWC is the GT class and Porsche has two serious contenders entered in the one-driver, professionals-only division. North America’s only Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan, Beach, California) leads the pursuit for the title for the second year. The 2011 GT Drivers’ Champion finished second in the 2016 title chase narrowly missing his second title in a fight that came down to the last half-lap of the season. He is back in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Joining the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner in GT is Jon Fogarty (Bend, Oregon). Fogarty will pilot the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R in the title chase. The No. 99 – famously known as the “Red Dragon” – moves to the rear-engined machine based on the iconic 911 road car for the first time in 2017. The program has tested extensively with its veteran crew and championship driver.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R is also the machine of choice for the German marque in the GT Amateur (GTA) class. Three cars are entered into the class including 2016 GT Cup Class Champion Alec Udell (The Woodlands. Texas) who moves up from the 911 GT3 Cup car into the more powerful GT3 R. Udell will race the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports/GMG machine. Alongside, the young Texan is veteran James Sofronas (Villa Park, California). The owner/driver of GMG is a longtime entrant of Porsches and will run all ten races in the No. 14. In 2016, Michael Schein (Glen Cover, New York) came the closest of the Porsche family to win the GTA title. He returns to fight for race victories and his first title in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports GT3 R.
Preston Calvert (Potomac, Maryland) is the lone Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in a class that, until this year, was a one-make category with the Porsche. Calvert’s No. 77 will challenge a new entry from Ferrari for honors in these races. He returns at VIR to race for the SprintX GT Pro-Am class in a Porsche 911 GT3 R.
For the first time, Porsche will have an official entry in the GTS class. With Pirelli World Challenge opting to use the worldwide GT4 class regulations as the basis for GTS, the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR is now eligible to compete. The mid-engine, Porsche Motorsport-built racer – closely based on the street-going Porsche Cayman GT4 – is the most popular option in the Grand Touring Sport (GTS) class with five examples entered for St. Pete. Perhaps the most readily recognized of the quintet are the two Flying Lizard Motorsports cars: the No. 3 of Spain’s Rodrigo Baptista and the No. 14 of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Nate Stacy. They sport variations of the popular Flying Lizard livery. Cameron Maugeri (Ormond Beach, Florida) will campaign the No. 7 Krugspeed Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR while Case-It Racing brings two more of the machines, the No. 017 for Adam Merzon (Greenwich, Connecticut) and the No. 018 for Canada’s Cameron Cassels. Cassels is a regular in both the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the Porsche Club of America (PCA) Club Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trophy East driving Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports.
Wright Team. Wright Motorsport Takes Aim at PWC GT and GTA Sprint and SprintX Titles.
Wright Motorsports is set to enter Pirelli World Challenge competition armed with a pair of full-season Porsche 911 GT3 R entries. Returning to the Ohio-based team full-time will be Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) in GT and Michael Schein (Glen Cove, New York) in GTA classes respectively. For the SprintX rounds, Long will be reuniting with fellow Porsche factory ace Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Michael Schein will be paired with recognized sport car talent, Jan Heylen (Tampa, Florida).
With their sights set on besting 2016’s second-place GT and GTA championships, Wright Motorsports will retain an identical Sprint lineup with Schein in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R and America’s lone Porsche factory driver, Patrick Long in the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Bringing a wealth of well-honed knowledge and Porsche racing experience to the table, PWC novice, Bergmeister, will undoubtedly be a strong asset to the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R. While the German Porsche factory driver carries an extensive resume driving Porsche racecars, his most recent experience comes with the Porsche 911 GT3 R, of which he also contests full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, GTD class, with Park Place Motorsports.
Many could vouch that Patrick Long and Jörg Bergmeister have already proven themselves to be a winning combination. Prior to the 2017 season, the duo has earned three championships in seven seasons together and shared the top step of the podium at prestigious events such as the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 12 Hours of Sebring. The last time Long and Bergmeister contested a full season together was in 2012, when Wright Motorsports served as a technical partner for their Flying Lizard Motorsports program.
Rounding off the SprintX roster will be sports car racing veteran, Jan Heylen. Heylen holds a long-standing relationship with Wright Motorsports and Schein, having successfully competed and coached with the Ohio-based team for many seasons. Originating from a strong open-wheel background in Champ car, Renault Eurocup, and F3000, the Belgium-native has seen countless podiums, driving Wright Motorsports prepared Porsche racecars in the endurance format. Though new to PWC competition, Heylen will have no problem adjusting to his ride with experience driving a Porsche 911 GT3 R in this year’s Rolex 24.
The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge will kick off with Rounds 1 and 2 at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 10-12. The first SprintX event will take place April 28-30 at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR).
Jens Walther, president and CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“Seeing Patrick and Jörg back together brings a smile to my face, as I’m sure it does for many fans of the driver duo from the 911 GT3 RSR days. The two will definitely add excitement to the growing PWC SprintX format.”
John Wright, Team Principal, Wright Motorsports.
“As a team owner, I couldn’t be happier with the depth of our Sprint and SprintX lineups. I’m looking forward to working with Patrick and Jörg as teammates again and very excited to see what Jan and Mike can do sharing a seat in GTA. It’s been a long offseason, but now we’re ready to kick things off and take care of some unfinished business!”
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I’m very grateful to be back for another shot at the championship with the Wright Motorsports team. It’s also great to back in a car with my long time co-driver Jörg Bergmeister. This will be our eighth time running a season championship as teammates since 2004! Jörg is a tremendous competitor and always pushes every aspect of the program to be its very best, including his teammate. We’ve shared a lot of very fond memories and victories in the past and have many more to make in the coming races.”
Jörg Bergmeister, Driver, No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, SprintX.
“I’m really happy to be sharing a car with Patrick again. The Pirelli World Challenge is going to be a new series for me and I’m excited for the challenge. Patrick has already been very successful in this championship so I’m looking forward to helping him with some unfinished business. Working with John Wright and Wright Motorsports is also something that I have done successfully over the years. We’ve already had a very good test with the team and hopefully that will translate to many successful races for us during the SprintX season.”
Michael Schein, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I’m excited to get back to work with the whole Wright Motorsports team in the Porsche 911 GT3 R. We learned a good deal about the GT3 R last year and I expect us to be strong out of the gate. I’m happy to see a few more competitors on the GTA grid for this year. It should make for some good racing. Sprint X will be a new experience for me, as I have never had to do a driver change. I’m looking forward to sharing the car with Jan. We’ve known each other for a few years now and he has been a big part of improving my abilities. We get along very well and I think we will be a strong pairing. Jan is one of the best drivers out there; it will be a great experience being able to compete together. Consistency is key, and it’s my goal to finish as high as possible in the championship this year.”
Jan Heylen, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, SprintX.
“It’s so nice to finally be a part of the Pirelli World Challenge. Then the fact that I get to do it with Wright Motorsports and Mike Schein makes it even better. I’ve been working with John Wright for four years now and started coaching Mike in his first year of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge , so everyone there is family to me. Mike is certainly one of the quicker GTA guys out there so I’m confident that we have a great shot at this. It’s also nice to be in a car next to Patrick and Jörg. There will be some good competition within the team and I like that. Now I’m ready to get things started!”
GMG On. Porsche Works Driver Added to Veteran PWC SprintX Program.
Returning for his 15th season of Pirelli World Challenge competition, Global Motorsports Group (GMG) team owner James Sofronas (Vila Park, California) will arrive at this week’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg committed to the series’ sprint rounds, continuing his commitment with Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) and the venerable Porsche 911 GT3 R. Beyond the five-race Sprint championship, the team announced the addition of Porsche Motorsport works driver Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) for the opening two rounds of the series’ SprintX championship, co-driving with Sofronas. The first SprintX round will be at VIRginia International Raceway, April 28-30.
As a team with a rich history of competing with Porsche machinery, GMG and Sofronas’ return to the marque is part of a partnership that has been synonymous with the team’s growth. Not only did Sofronas take his first victory, as well as his best championship finish, under the Porsche Motorsport umbrella, but the team also played a critical role in the 2008 and 2009 Manufacturer’s Championship won by the brand. In 2016, GMG also held the unique distinction of being the top sales team for the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, selling more cars than any other in North America. All Porsche Motorsport racecars sold in North America are distributed by Porsche Motorsport North America.
Joining GMG for the opening SprintX rounds at VIRginia International Raceway as well as Lime Rock will be factory newcomer Vanthoor. Joining the team in his first year with Porsche Motorsport, the Belgian will join Sofronas for the two-driver, 60-minute format with an impressive roster of success. At only 25-years old, Vanthoor already has a résumé that includes the Intercontinental GT Championship, victories at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, 24 Hours of Spa, and even the German Formula 3 championship.
James Sofronas, owner/driver, No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It’s great to be back in the Pirelli World Challenge for another season. It’s incredible to think of how the series has grown over the years, and it’s been an honor to be a part of it. Our business has grown with it, of course, and 2017 looks to be a great continuation of that. Last year we really enjoyed working with the current iteration of the Porsche 911 GT3 R in its first year of development, and headed in to this year we have a very good understanding of what to expect. A big part of that is our relationship with Porsche Motorsport North America, and the addition of Laurens Vanthoor for our opening two SprintX events is a huge demonstration of our mutual commitment to one another. Porsche has been a big part of our business over the years, and bringing in such a talented co-driver is a great opportunity for everyone. I’m really looking forward to St. Petersburg and what should be a great race.”
More GMG. Udell and Calvert Announce 2017 PWC Plans in Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Having won the 2016 GT Cup class of the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC), Alec Udell (The Woodlands, Texas) will move up to the GTA class in the Sprint championship and the top class, GT, of PWC SprintX season in 2017. He will pilot a Porsche 911 GT3 R in both championship efforts.
Santa Ana, California’s GMG Racing will enter Udell in the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R for the 50-minute races of North America’s premier sprint format GT race series.
In addition to the five-race weekends – 10 events – that comprise the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge “Sprint” season, Udell will also participate in the five-weekend, 10-race, SprintX Championship – Pro-Am class – as well. The 15-time PWC race winner will join GTA veteran and two-time 2015 SprintX race winner Preston Calvert (Potomac, Maryland) in the Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R.
James Sofronas, Owner/Driver, GMG.
“I couldn’t be happier to see Alec develop in to the next level of competition. Alec has been a shining star of our development program since he first entered the championship, and elevating up to the GT ranks is going to be a great next step.”
Alec Udell, Driver, No. 17 Euroworld Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I’m very excited for the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge racing season. Moving up classes always comes with a learning phase; I’m ready for the challenge of GTA. The competition in PWC GT is second to none, with several factory backed programs and factory drivers; I have certainly got my work cut out for me. I’m aiming for a podium in GT-A and overall podium in GT. I know it will be a tough fight, but I believe I’m capable. I’m very happy to say I’m partnered with a great friend and consistent and strong driver, Preston Calvert for SprintX. We have been running against each other for two years in the GT Cup category and I’m excited to build on the successes he had in the Sprint-X series last year!”
Preston Calvert, Driver, Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“The Calvert Dynamics team had some hard-won success last year in the first season of the SprintX race format of Pirelli World Challenge. Those first two professional race wins at Utah Motorsports Campus were the highlight of my brief racing career so far, and have encouraged me to continue racing in the SprintX format with Pirelli World Challenge. Alec Udell approached me about running the full SprintX series for 2017, and it seems like a great fit. He is a very fast, cerebral young race driver, who was very generous with his performance data and advice to me when we were competitors together in the GT Cup class. I hope to continue to improve my own ability to drive the Porsche 911 GT3 R, and with luck, Alec and I will be able to have some success in the Pro-Am category of SprintX.”
VIP Club. 20 Drivers Entered In PCA Club Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trophy East.
More than 20 drivers will compete with the track-only Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport as the Porsche Club of America (PCA) Club Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trophy East series launches its second season, March 31-April 2 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.
The semi-professional series, which debuted in 2016, provides a bridge for Porsche racers to climb to the professional ranks. Drivers compete in the 385-horsepower, mid-engine racer, which features a sealed engine and transmission and a spec Pirelli tire. Competitors receive points based on finish in each class – Championship, Masters and Pro – with podium recognition for the top three drivers.
New for the 2017 season is the Clubsport MR – a Manthey-Racing kit for the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport designed to make the car lighter and faster with a combination of an aero package and weight reduction. Drivers Jim Cox, Bruce McKee and Cameron Cassell will run in the series’ Pro class with the Porsche-supported Clubsport MR kit. Cassell is a regular competitor with the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series as well.
Noteworthy returning competitors include the 2016 Championship class second place driver David Baum, 2016 Championship class third-place driver Curt Swearingin, 2016 Masters class second-place driver Roger Halvorsen and 2016 Masters class third-place driver John Frank. PCA Club Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trophy East has also welcomed several new drivers to the competitive series, including Charlie Craig and the sole female competitor – Kathy Mead – to name a few.
The PCA Club Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trophy East series grew from six events in its inaugural season to eight events for the upcoming 2017 season, increasing the series’ growing profile with competitors and fans following an extremely successful first season.
West Dillard, PCA Club Racing Porsche GT4 Clubsport Trophy East Series coordinator.
“We have an outstanding series lined up on some of America’s greatest tracks. I’m excited about the opportunity to work closely with the Clubsport drivers and teams. It is going to be an exciting year.”
Porsche Entries at St, Petersburg.
Total Car Count. 11 Porsche Motorsport-produced cars are competing at St. Petersburg.
Pirelli World Challenge.
GT Class – Two (2) Porsche 911 GT3 R.
No. 58 Wright Motorsports
Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California)
No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing
Jon Fogarty (Bend, Oregon)
GTA Class – Three (3) Porsche 911 GT3 R.
No. 14 GMG
James Sofronas (Villa Park, California)
No. 16 Wright Motorsports
Michael Schein (Glen Cove, New York)
No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports/GMG
Alec Udell (The Woodlands, Texas)
GT Cup Class – One (1) Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
No. 77 Calvert Dynamics
Preston Calvert (Potomac, Maryland)
GTS Class – Five (5) Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports
Rodrigo Baptista (Spain)
No. 7 KruSpeed
Cameron Maugeri (Canada)
No. 14 Flying Lizard Motorsports
Nate Stacy (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
No. 017 Case-It Racing
Adam Merzon (Greenwich, Connecticut
No. 018 Case-It Racing
Cameron Cassels (Canada)
Jon Fogarty won the 2007 and 2009 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype drivers’ championship and is a two-time Atlantic Championship champion as well