Pirelli World Challenge
Classes. GT, GTA (Porsche 911 GT3 R), GT Cup (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup)
Date. Saturday, March 12, 2016
Time. 9:35 a.m. ET
Race Duration. 1-Hour
Round. 3 of 22
Classes. GT, GTA (Porsche 911 GT3 R), GT Cup (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup)
Date. Sunday, March 6, 2016
Time. 3:15 p.m. ET
Race Duration. 1-Hour
Round. 4 of 22
Next Round. Grand Prix of Long Beach, Long Beach, California Street Course, April 15-17
Porsche Profile. Event Story Lines
Porsche 911 GT3 R Earns First Victory with EFFORT Racing In Pirelli World Challenge
Porsche announced the newest 911 GT3 R in May 2015. The car, based on the seventh-generation of the iconic rear-engine sports car, debuted in its completed state at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January 2016. On March 5, the car, designed to the FIA GT3 class regulations, took its first pole position and race victory anywhere in the world. The historic win came in the Pirelli World Challenge at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Porsche “works” driver Patrick Long has been the lynchpin in the early success of the 911 GT3 R. The Manhattan Beach, California-resident, who scored the car’s first podium in the Black Swan Racing entry at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, added the overall pole position for the Pirelli World Challenge at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on March 4 and the car’s first international win on March 5. The win came after a masterful display of driving by North America’s only factory driver. The No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R was overtaken from the pole position entering the first corner. However, Long, who was in his first World Challenge race since 2012, chased the leader for 50-minutes of the one-hour sprint race. After several laps of pressuring the leading entry, Long retook the top spot and held it for the final ten minutes. It was his first win in the series since claiming the title in 2011 and his first start since 2012.
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: “I just had to get my head around the Pirelli World Challenge rules to understand leading this field to the green after a few years away so that I wasn’t going to make a blunder or stink up the show. After the start, I realized that we had a little bit of pace. So I stayed in line and get away from the third and fourth-place cars so that the leader and I could have a race for the end. It was really touch and go. I tried to launch my attack just before we got to traffic so that I could make a run. It all played out, so I’m really happy. When you’re on the Porsche factory team, every time you sit in the car, it’s a sprint. My teammates are so bloody fast, I’m 10/10ths every time I get in the race car.”
“Anything Less Than the Championship Won’t Be a Success”
Patrick Long won the Pirelli World GT class Championship in 2011, his last full season competing in North America’s premier sprint racing sports car series. March 4-6, the Manhattan Beach, California-resident returned to the series and won the pole position and race at the first round of 2016 for the World Challenge held at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. The United States’ only Porsche factory driver then promptly said he would not consider anything less than another season title a successful year.
Unfortunately, starting in the second-position for Race Two on Sunday, March 6 – the second race starting grid is based on the fastest lap set by each driver during Race One – Long’s championship aspirations took a hit, a very hard hit, into the wall just before uphill portion of the track racing towards Turn One. Proving the car’s impressive safety features, Long was uninjured but the Porsche 911 GT3 R sustained heavy damage. EFFORT Racing will have a significant workload ahead of them to repair the car in time for Rounds Three and Four at St. Petersburg, Florida on March 11-13 but is confident of the work being completed in time for the first practice session. The car was already well on its way before leaving Austin, Texas.
With Long out of the race, Johnny O’Connell, who has won the last four GT Championships since Long’s departure from Pirelli World Challenge, won Race Two at COTA in convincing style. With the two title favorites splitting the results for the weekend, the 2016 GT Driver, Team and Manufacturer championship battle promises to be a season-long fight.
Porsche Young Drivers Strong in Pirelli World Challenge
In the four years of the Porsche Young Driver Academy in North America, 17 drivers, all under the age of 25, have been invited to take part in the two-day program hosted by Porsche Cars North America (PCNA), Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) and IMSA. Of those who have “passed through the halls” of the Academy, six competed this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas.
Of the six, Alec Udell (The Woodlands, Texas), class of 2015, and Sloan Urry (Park City, Utah), 2014, won the one-make GT Cup class on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The GT Cup is a one-make class within the multi-class one-hour GT race utilizing the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car exclusively.
Two of the key members of the program, Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and veteran Porsche racer and instructor Andrew Davis (Athens, Georgia), driving the No. 76 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R, raced against their students, often head-to-head. Michael Lewis (Laguna Beach, California) is teammates at EFFORT Racing with Long. The EFFORT Racing Porsche Development Program driver was part of the class of 2013. Colin Thompson (Doylestown, Pennsylvania) and Austin Cindric (Charlotte, North Carolina) – both from the 2014 class – and Kyle Marcelli (Canada), 2013, each ran in the GT class against Long and Davis as well.
Proving the strength of the stepping-stone system Porsche has created for young drivers, Udell won the GT Cup class on Saturday driving the No. 17 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Urry took his first career GT Cup victory on Sunday in Race Two driving the No. 20 TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry.
Michael Lewis, Driver, No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: “There are a handful of guys that I did the Porsche Young Driver program with that I was racing here against this weekend. It’s an interesting dynamic to see these mentors like Pat Long and Andrew Davis showing me how to drive a GT car then and now to be racing toe-to-toe with them in the Pirelli World Challenge. When we are out there, I am in race mode though. I am not thinking ‘Patrick Long, Andrew Davis, Alec Udell, Sloan Urry or Kyle Marcelli’. They are just another racer on the track not guys that I did the Porsche Young Driver Academy with.”
Sloan Urry, Driver, No. 20 TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup: “It feels amazing to be on the top step of the podium. My team has worked so hard to get me there. TruSpeed always gives me their all and it is good to be back up there for them!”
St. Pete First Street Race for Porsche 911 GT3 R
The March 11-13 Pirelli World Challenge St. Petersburg will mark the first time the newest Porsche 911 GT3 R has raced on a street course. However, the iconic racer has seven generations of Porsche 911 race experience to draw from. The rear-engine layout of the Porsche, coupled with nearly six decades of development and the latest in Porsche Motorsport experience and technology provides the 911 GT3 R flattened learning curve. The design allows the car to put power down quickly and efficiently which benefits lap times and tire wear. The current layout of the car also increases mechanical and aerodynamic grip further increasing the performance envelope on the ever-changing track surface, which are regular city streets versus purpose-built racetracks.
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R: “I like our chances on street courses. I think we’re lighter on our feet and easier on our tires. We make a good grip on the surface when the adhesion is on the lower side. But on temporary street courses, you’re always battling the elements of public streets. I feel like it will play into our hands and I enjoy St. Petersburg as a venue and racetrack, so I’m excited. We have a better understanding of what the car wants here to set up standpoint from these tires. The Pirellis are a really consistent and strong tire, but that means sometimes we have to tune on the front axle a little more than we might otherwise. I think we made good strides. As always, Stefan (Pfeiffer, EFFORT Racing engineer) makes great set up calls and we will be there from the onset.”
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car Provides Close Competition for GT Cup Competitors
Entering Rounds Three and Four at St. Petersburg, the 2016 GT Cup class of the Pirelli World Challenge has already proven to be one of the most closely fought in the sport. That, in no small way, is the result of the exclusive use of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. As the most prolific racecar in manufacture today, experience with the car by the teams and Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) – exclusive importers of racing Porsches to North America – creates a balance of competition unrivaled. The GT Cup class is made up of veteran drivers looking for hard-edged competition without the pressure of fulltime professional racing and young drivers gaining experience. The combination of drivers and equal equipment provides extremely tight racing within the GT races.
Porsche Point of View.
Jens Walther, President/CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America
“There is a great deal of well justified excitement in the Pirelli World Challenge paddock this year. The series got off to an excellent start at COTA and I expect that momentum to carry on to St. Pete. The racing in every class was very good and, with a few very unfortunate exceptions, clean. EFFORT Racing and Patrick Long earning the first pole position and first victory for the Porsche 911 GT3 R worldwide was an excellent way to debut the car in FIA specifications. And, we again saw the GT Cup class prove the value of a one-make category within a multi-class race. As you look at the St. Pete field you see so many drivers racing with Porsche customers or that have come through the Porsche system. Drivers like Michael Lewis, Michael Shein, Sloan Urry and Alec Udell are the current proof of the Porsche system at work as a true ladder up to the top rungs of the sport.”
Porsche Cars North America. @Porsche
Porsche North America. @PorscheNARacing
Porsche GT Racing Twitter. @PorscheRaces
Porsche LMP Twitter. @Porsche_Team
Event Hashtag. #FirestoneGP
Race Weekend Schedule. (All times ET)
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Pirelli World Challenge Test Session 1 – GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes – 1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Pirelli World Challenge Practice Session 1 – GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes – 4:00 p.m. – 4:55 p.m.
Friday, March 11, 2016
Pirelli World Challenge Qualifying Session – GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes – 9:35 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Pirelli World Challenge Race 1 – GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes – 9:35 a.m. – 10:35 a.m.
Pirelli World Challenge Autograph Session – GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes – 1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, March 15, 2016
Pirelli World Challenge Race 2 – GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes – 3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Pirelli World Challenge Post-Race Ceremonies – GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes – 4:15 p.m.
Pirelli World Challenge
Total Car Count. 7 Porsche entries
GT Class (3) Porsche 911 GT3 R
No. 31 EFFORT Racing Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California)
No. 41 EFFORT Racing Michael Lewis (Laguna Beach, California)
No. 76 Calvert Dynamics Andrew Davis (Athens, Georgia)
GT Cup Class (4) Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
No. 17 GMG Racing Alec Udell (The Woodlands, Texas)
No. 20 TruSpeed Autosport Sloan Urry (Park City, Utah)
No. 77 Calvery Dynamics Preston Calvert (Potomac, Maryland)
No. 00 Motorsports Promotions Corey Fergus (Columbus, Ohio)