NGT Motorsport team owner Ramez Wahab has seen all sides of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series. After starting his racing career in the water in a high-powered catamaran, he began competition in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series as a driver when the series launched in 2005.
But as his Miami-based team grew and spread throughout multiple series, including the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Wahab knew he had to take a step back from the driver’s seat of his Porsche and take his place in the driver’s seat of his team.
“Since I can remember, I’ve been a petrol head,” Wahab said. “If it had wheels or propellers and lots of speed, it was meant for me. After a couple of years of offshore boat racing, I decided to race cars. I was quite successful, but unfortunately my talent dropped more than my lap times, and therefore I was never able to step up to pro racing.
“Since I wanted to stay involved in racing, I decided to make my hobby my business. I stepped out of the driver seat and moved to the other side of the wall by running the team.”
Since that point, NGT Motorsport has been a mainstay in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
“I have always favored one-make series,” Wahab said. “They show the real potential of a team and driver since everybody is fighting with the same weapons. We feel at home here.”
NGT Motorsport has become a successful business and race team by running up to 15 Porsches around the country in different series. In the 11 years of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, NGT has won a championship in multiple classes a total of four times, including back-to-back championships with Henrique Cisneros in 2010 and 2011 in the Gold and Platinum Cup, respectively.
“We have been fortunate enough to win the championship in this series four times so far,” Wahab said. “The secret is passion for the sport and having strong, dedicated team members on your side. There is no ‘I’ in this sport. It’s a team effort.”
That mentality is one of the things that attracts drivers to the NGT Motorsport team.
“When I first met Ramez Wahab and his wife, Sylvia, I felt they had such commitment to the sport of racing and a desire to breed champions,” said Mark Llano, driver of the No. 22 NGT Motorsport and SERKET Racing Porsche. “When I think about four years ago, I had never raced a day in my life. I was a U.S. Marine not a race car driver. But I remember Ramez telling me to trust him.”
The trust paid off for Llano with a second-place finish in both the Gold and Gold Masters championship in 2015.
NGT has made a name for itself by developing drivers into winners. That winning history and family atmosphere attracted the father-son duo of Joe and Lucas Catania to the team starting last season. Lucas had run in various other series but was interested in making the jump. He looked at various teams before eventually deciding on NGT in 2015.
“It was hard to not know the name NGT Motorsport,” Lucas Catania said. “They have run some of the biggest names in recent Porsche history, like Sean Edwards and Kuba Giermaziak. But right away I felt like part of the team. My goal is to keep developing as a driver, and we’ve been on the same page since the beginning.”
Wahab predicted the strong development and progress of Lucas Catania from the very beginning. Catania finished sixth in the Platinum Cup championship, with three podium finishes, in 2015. He leads the Platinum points in 2016 after earning his first career victory last month in Round 2 at Sebring International Raceway.
“He told me the first year would be a learning year and a year for getting experiences,” Catania said. “He said I would start to see podiums at the end of the year, but it would be the second year where I would really shine.”
Said Wahab: “Lucas is the perfect example. It was just a matter of time for him to win. He did a couple of years of grassroots racing with no professional coaching. As the season progressed in 2015, he kept developing his skills, and now he is winning races.”
Wahab and his NGT Motorsport team will continue the development of all five of their Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama drivers – Llano, Joe and Lucas Catania, IMSA Scholarship winner Victor Gomez IV and Fred Kaimer – on April 30-May 1 as the series heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for Rounds 3 and 4 of the championship.
About Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama enters its 12th season in 2016 as one of Porsche’s 20 single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. The series produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in the world’s most produced and iconic race car, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Racing is divided into two classes – Platinum Cup, featuring the 2014-2016 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based on the current seventh, and current, generation of the street car, and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous iteration (model years 2010-2013) of the race car. A Masters Championship also is conducted in the Platinum class. Each class is awarded with its own podium at the end of every race and individual champion at the end of every season. Points are awarded by finish in class.
Source. LST Marketing