The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge resumes this weekend at Circuit of the Americas with a record setting field of 38 cars in the GTS class. The Grand Prix of Texas stands as the second race weekend of the year, but the first for the SprintX championship: a new championship placed within the existing championship. Located just south of Austin, Texas, the world class facility of Circuit of the Americas will host four days of on track action, and Flying Lizard Motorsports will compete with Audi R8 LMS GT4s, driven by Mike Hedlund, Adam Merzon, and Ryan Eversley.
A championship within the full season championship, this is the first season the SprintX format is embedded within the GTS championship. For the five SprintX double header events, the traditional 50 minute, one driver format is replaced with a 60 minute race to be completed by two drivers, with some exceptions. A pit stop is mandatory, but no tire changes are allowed.
As a Bronze driver, Mike Hedlund is permitted to and will race the SprintX championship in the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS by himself for the 2018 season. Adam Merzon, the full season driver for the No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS will be joined by driver Ryan Eversley. The No. 23 car was not in livery for the season opener at St. Petersburg, but will debut its blue livery this weekend with Adam and Ryan behind the wheel. Driver #1 will qualify Saturday morning and start that afternoon’s race. Driver #2 will finish the race, and start the next day’s event based on the car’s fastest lap in race one.
The Pit Stops
All pit stops in the SprintX championship have a required minimum time of 75 seconds, starting at the pit in beacon line and ending at the pit out beacon. It will take roughly 30 seconds to make it down pit road at Circuit of the Americas, giving teams roughly 45 seconds to complete driver changes.
Circuit of the Americas (COTA), a grade 1 FIA specification road course, opened in the fall of 2012 and plays host to numerous events including Formula One, the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Moto GP World Championship. The 20-turn 3.427-mile track provides ample runoff, in stark contrast to the tight, concrete walled street course of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the host of the opening rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge season.
According to Engineer legend Jim Bell, Circuit of the Americas mostly a mid-speed, high speed rhythm course. Drivers have to be very comfortable in the car when going through the esses and the high speed corners. A stable platform will be key, as the car has to be nimble for the increasing and decreasing radius turns. Teams will need to place a big emphasis on the high speed rhythm for the cars to effectively make it through turns 11 through 16. With 20 turns, two straights, and an elevation change of133 feet, this will be a difficult track to get it all correct.
Mike Hedlund | No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4
Austin is a home away from home race for me. With friends and family in the area, it always makes for a fun race week! After our team’s performance at round 1 in St. Petersburg, I’m excited to see what we can do for the SprintX season opener. I’ll be pushing as hard as I can to surpass the $1,572 raised for charity in St. Petersburg and hope to see all the Flying Lizard Audi fans at the track!
Adam Merzon | No. 23 Audi R8 LMS GT4
This will be the first time Ryan and I have driven together in World Challenge but we have had a lot of strong results co-driving together in the past. I really like the layout at COTA and think it will suit the Case-It Audi really well.
Ryan Eversley | No. 23 Audi R8 LMS GT4 | SprintX Addition
I’ve been looking forward to COTA since late last year when Adam and I agreed to run Sprint X together. Mike and Adam both had strong runs at St Pete so I’m optimistic we can have some good results in Texas.
Source. Flying Lizard Motorsports