The ebbs and flows of an unpredictable, competitive season already have started in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama after just four races in 2014. Angel Benitez Jr. won the opening two rounds of the season from pole March 13-14 at Sebring International Raceway, and Michael Lewis pulled off an identical pole-victory sweep May 3-4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Who’s next to step forward and try to stamp their authority as a championship contender?
That question could be answered at the next two rounds of one of the most exciting single-make series in the world, May 23-24 at bucolic Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama returns to the seven-turn, 1.5-mile circuit in the rolling hills of western Connecticut for the first time since 2011.
It’s very possible Benitez or Lewis could continue their dominance at Lime Rock. Benitez, from Valencia, Venezuela, is looking for his first Platinum Cup season title in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport entry after falling short in a tight championship battle last summer. He is third in the championship this season, eight points behind leader Colin Thompson.
Former European Formula 3 standout Lewis, from Laguna Beach, California, showed impressive speed and consistency to earn his first two career victories at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in just his third and fourth career starts in the series in the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian Porsche. Lewis is second in points, six behind Thompson.
Thompson is the leading candidate to become the newest winner this season. Thompson,
from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, has used consistent speed and composed racecraft to take the lead in the series with 64 points after four of 16 races.
Thompson, 20, has finished second in three races this season in the No. 14 Kelly Moss Motorsports/Porsche of Bucks County entry.
Sloan Urry is another young star poised on the edge of a breakthrough performance at Lime Rock. Urry, 21, from Park City, Utah, is fifth in the standings with 46 points in the No. 20 JDX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car owned by former IMSA standout driver Jeremy Dale.
Young drivers Jesse Lazare and Christina Nielsen also are driving closer to the podium and could contend for the top three or victory at Lime Rock.
Lazare, 16, from Montreal, is tied for sixth in the standings with Nielsen, 22, from Arhus, Denmark. Lazare earned his first career podium by finishing third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed entry, which is managed by 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Price Cobb.
Nielsen will look to rebound from a tough weekend at Laguna after finishing fifth in both races in March at Sebring International Raceway in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Nielsen is racing in North America this season after competing in Porsche series in Europe and the Middle East for the last two seasons.
Kasey Kuhlman also is an overall podium contender and the leading challenger for Platinum Masters (age 45 and over) victory at Lime Rock. Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, has been the top Masters finisher in three of the four races this season, including a third-place overall finish in the second race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports entry.
Kuhlman also has an advantage over many of his rivals – circuit knowledge in a Porsche. He is one of just a handful of drivers in this year’s field who raced a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car when the series last visited Lime Rock in 2011, along with fellow Platinum competitors Michael Schein of New York and Mark Bullitt of Miami and Gold Cup driver Michael Levitas of Baltimore.
The tight race for the top spot in Gold Cup will continue at Lime Rock. Fred Poordad, from San Antonio, Texas, leads the standings with 64 points in the No. 02 Competition Motorsports Porsche. He has two podium finishes in the class so far this season, including a class victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Patrick-Otto Madsen, from Boca Raton, Florida, is second in the Gold Cup standings with 58 points in the No. 99 ANSA Motorsports entry.
Team championships also are close entering this event. Kelly Moss Motorsports leads the Platinum Cup with 66 points, just five ahead of Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport and seven in front of Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian. It’s even tighter in Gold Cup, in which Competition Motorsports leads over the tied ANSA Motorsports and Wright Motorsports, 64-62.
Practice at Lime Rock Park starts at 10 a.m. (ET) and 1:20 p.m. Friday, May 23, with qualifying at 4:05 p.m. Friday. Two 45-minute races are scheduled for Saturday, May 24, with the first at 12:35 p.m. and the second at 5:10 p.m. For live updates on all the action, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama continues its 10th season at Lime Rock Park, offering two unique classes of racing to fuel the competitive spirit of drivers and teams.
The two class divisions in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama are Gold Cup and Platinum Cup, with each class featuring a Masters Championship (for drivers 45 and over). Each class is awarded with a podium at the end of every race, with individual champion honors at the end of every season. Points are awarded by finish in class.
All Platinum Cup drivers will race this season in the 2014 version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, developed for Porsche one-make Cups worldwide and based on the street version of the current Porsche 911. The 3.8-liter power unit featured in the new 911 GT3 Cup car produces 460 horsepower and a maximum engine speed of 8,500 rpm. The new 911 GT3 Cup also includes a new Porsche six-speed sequential gearbox with a mechanical slip differential, with an electro-pneumatic paddle shift system creating faster, more efficient gear changes.
The 2010-2013 versions of the 911 GT3 Cup car will compete in the Gold Cup class, while the new 2014 model will race for Platinum Cup honors.
Source. Grand Solutions