The Porsche Sportscar Together Fest at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) was a perfect backdrop to a three-round Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented Cayman Islands weekend. The legendary race track hosted the iconic brand over three days, treating guests to an exciting and action packed weekend both on and off the track.
Having reached the midpoint of the 16-round inaugural season of the premier one-make race series, the focus on the championship battle has intensified in all three classes; Pro, Pro-Am and Pro-Am 991 with leader changes and narrower gaps to crown the winners in the series which utilizes only Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars on Michelin racing slicks.
Race 2. Sunday, 8:45 a.m.
Race 2 was expected to be a bridge event to carry the momentum from Race 1 (Round 9 of the 16-round championship) on Saturday to Sunday afternoon’s grand finale. However, Round 10 became a pivotal points race that tightened the top-three into neck-and-neck contest for top Pro honors as well as further narrowing the gap between leaders and chasers in the Pro-Am and Pro-Am 991 category. It all started on Saturday as Kay van Berlo (Netherlands), who entered the weekend as the points leader, gave the top spot back to teammate Sebastian Priaulx (United Kingdom) after an electrical issue slowed the Dutchman’s run. Priaulx, in the No. 15 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup took the Race 1 win on Saturday. In Race 2 of the weekend, bad went to worse for van Berlo as an unusual engine issue sidelined the No. 3 Kelly-Moss machine; he would finish 11th in class. However, Priaulx was not able to take full advantage of his teammate’s struggles when he was hit and spun by fourth-place in points driver, Riley Dickinson (New Braunfels, Texas). Priaulx continued but finished in sixth-place in class. Dickinson was assessed a drive-through penalty and finished in eighth-place. Meanwhile, Parker Thompson (third in the points) won his third race of the season driving the No. 9 JDX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to a convincing victory. In the Pro-Am class, for drivers 40-years-old or older driving the type 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, Efrin Castro (Dominican Republic) ran to his second win of the weekend, third career victory, in the No. 65 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. In the Pro-Am 991 class – for previous generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars – Joseph Lombardo (Bath, Ohio) earned his first professional victory as a driver taking the top step in the No. 92 Kelly-Moss Road and Race-prepared machine.
Race 3. Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
If Race 2 was a pivotal in the championship, Race 3 locked it in as a rocket ride toward the season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (November 10 – 12) . The action started before the drop of the green flag with van Berlo having to start the No. 3 from the last spot on the grid as a result of an engine change following Race 2. When the green did fly and the 45-minute clock started, the action got ignited with it. Priaulx was on the pole position next to Thompson, Riley Dickinson’s No. 53 Team Hardpoint EBM machine inside Row 2 and Leh Keen’s 311RS Motorsport-prepared No. 12 in fourth-place. By the time the leaders returned to the start-finish line, van Berlo had gained 14 positions slicing his way through the Pro-Am 991 and Pro-Am classes to the back of the Pro class. His progress was only slowed when Efrin Castro (Dominican Republic) went wide at the exit of Turn 14 (the famous oval’s Turn 1) and made hard contact with the wall. A lengthy yellow bunched the field and provided IMSA Race Control the opportunity to review the start handing down a lane penalty to Thompson. The drive-through penalty gutted his race (he would finish ninth in class). A second yellow would slow the field again but not before van Berlo broke into the top-five. He and Keen would battle hard for third-place before van Berlo moved the No. 3 around the red No. 12 for the final spot on the podium. With the top-three in Pro class going to Priaulx, Dickinson and van Berlo giving no one in the top-three a clear advantage over the others with five rounds remaining.
Curt Swearingin (Chattanooga, Tennessee) earned his first race win of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands in the No. 17 ACI machine. It was not an easy battle for the Tennessean as class points leader Alan Metni (Austin, Texas) was back on track after missing Race 1 to compete in an event in California. With Race 1 and 2 winner Efrin Castro (Dominican Republic) out on lap one as a result of an accident, the field was wide-open with veteran Porsche pilot Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) earning a podium in the No. 54 JDX Racing-prepared Black Swan Racing Porsche.
Pro-Am 991 Class.
Joseph Lombardo (Bath, Ohio) entered the Indianapolis rounds having never won a professional race. He left the “Racing Capital of the World” with two victories in his pocket. The driver of the No. 92 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche bettered Goldcrest Motorsports’ Matt Halcome (Dallas, Georgia) and Craig Conway (Edgewater, Florida) in the No. 97 Irish Mike’s Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, type 991 to take the top step of the podium for the class.
Rounds 12 and 13 of The Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands will be part of the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway, October 8 – 10, in Alton, Virginia.
Full race coverage of today’s 45-minute Sportscar Together Fest event can be found on the Porsche Motorsport North America YouTube channel (youtube.com/PorscheMotorsportNorthAmerica). Additional post race coverage and special programing will also be found here.
Brian Blocker, Series Manager, Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands.
“We knew that racing at Indianapolis would be special to our drivers and teams. We simply didn’t anticipate it would be this unique. To be the headline series of the Porsche Sportscar Together Fest is an honor that we did not take lightly. To do it at Indy we knew we had to be at the top of our game. The battles across the field and the impressive drives show the caliber of our teams and drivers. The concept of having a Porsche Carrera Cup in North America was proven at Sebring in March, but Indy will put an explanation point on it.”
Seb Priaulx, Driver, No. 15 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“This is emotional. I can’t believe I have won two races here at Indianapolis and three pole positions. It is a dream come true but now I want to focus on the next event. But I am really happy I won here this week. It is so sweet. I can’t get over it I’m going to keep focused on what I am doing, it isn’t over until the end and I am going to keep pushing.”
Riley Dickinson, No. 53 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“Porsche Carrera Cup North America, from the fan’s perspective, knocked it out of the park. Once again in the IMSA paddock we were one of the best races all weekend long. Here we were the main series and I think we put on a great show. I have to hand it to Porsche Motorsport North America for hitting all the right tracks. Being here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a surreal thing to me. I never would have thought when I got into racing that I would ever be here. There’s so much history here. It’s definitely very hard when we do the grid walk before the race not to pinch yourself when you walk across the bricks. The amount of names going across that start/finish line is pretty long.”
“Being able to get two podiums this weekend is a great accomplishment for myself and the team. I feel like I put my best foot forward. I have a lot to improve and a lot to learn but I think I took a step up this weekend for my overall performance. I can’t thank Team Hardpoint EBM enough for this weekend, they helped a lot to get the Porsche Austin Porsche 911 GT3 Cup up front. I’m looking forward to VIR to see what I can do.”
Joseph Lombardo, No. 92 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Type 991.
“This is just unbelievable. For us to be on the podium for a second time. It is a surreal experience. This is Indianapolis and it is special. I can’t thank Kelly-Moss Road and Race enough. The car was even better in Race Three than Race Two.”