Competition will intensify April 28-30 during Rounds 3 and 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, after an exciting start to the 2016 season in March at Sebring International Raceway.
The series is making its first stop to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn scenic circuit since closing its 2015 championship there during the famed Porsche Rennsport Reunion V last September.
Consistency has been key through the first two rounds of the 2016 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship. Lucas Catania, from Cazenovia, New York, had a breakthrough performance at Sebring, earning his first series win in Round 2 in an NGT Motorsport entry. That victory, combined with a second-place finish in Round 1, placed Catania in first place in the Platinum Cup standings with 38 points.
Round 3 will start at 3:40 p.m. (PT) Friday, April 29 with Round 4 following at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 30. Both races are 45 minutes.
Competition in one of the largest and most competitive of Porsche’s single-make Cup Challenge series in the world produces intense, exciting racing 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 is also 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.
The multi-class structure of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned series teaches drivers essential skills for an eventual career in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship or professional GT races worldwide.
The absence of two top performers at Sebring, Chris Green and Marco Cirone – both Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama competitors – will open the door for other championship hopefuls.
Andrew Longe, from Naples, Florida, sits tied for fourth place in the Platinum Cup standings after two fourth-place finishes in Rounds 1 and 2 with his Wright Motorsports team. Series rookie Ricardo Peréz, from Mexico City, earned a podium finish in his first weekend with JDX Racing to help put him in fourth, too.
Top returning driver and Round 1 winner at Sebring, Jesse Lazare, will look to rebound from a tire puncture in the second round and a 14th-place finish. Lazare, from Montreal, finished second in the championship with Kelly-Moss Road and Race in 2015 and earned a second- and third-place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the closing rounds.
The Platinum Cup Masters class lead, held by Cirone after he swept the class at Sebring, also will be up for grabs. Five different drivers earned podium finishes at Sebring. Wright Motorsports’ Fred Poordad, from San Antonio, is in second after second- and fourth-place finishes in Rounds 1 and 2. Poordad is returning to the series after missing the 2015 season.
Right on his heels will be 2015 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Gold Cup and Gold Masters champion Jeff Mosing, from Austin, Texas, who made the jump to Platinum Cup this season with TOPP Racing. Oscar Arroyo, from Mexico City, and Bill Peluchiwski, from Chicago, also have each earned a podium finish this season.
Competition in the Gold Cup class already has started heating up with the four top drivers claiming all of the podium positions at Sebring to keep the race tight early in the season. Michael de Quesada, from Tampa, Florida, swept the opening two rounds after spending the 2015 season competing in Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama. He leads the Gold standings with a perfect 40 points.
Michael Levitas, from Baltimore, finished second for TPC Racing in both rounds after running only a partial season in 2015. His teammate Sebastian Landy, from Great Falls, Virginia, took third in Round 1, and Philip Bloom, from New York, took the final step in Round 2 for Wright Motorsports. Bloom is third with 28 points, and Landy is fourth in the points standings with 24 points.
All drivers in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama compete in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car based on the street version of the current Porsche 911. The 3.8-liter power unit featured in the 911 GT3 Cup car produces 460 horsepower and a maximum engine speed of 8,500 rpm. The 911 GT3 Cup also includes a Porsche six-speed sequential gearbox with a mechanical slip differential, with an electropneumatic paddle shift system creating faster, more efficient gear changes.
The engines and transmissions of all the cars in the series are prepared and sealed by Porsche Motorsports North America, creating a level playing field on which driving talent and team setup skill prevail.
IMSA sanctions an eight-venue, 16-round schedule for the 2016 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. The series will run 14 of its 16 rounds during WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events.
Follow IMSA on Facebook and @IMSA on Twitter with the hashtag #GT3USA for updates on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. Live timing for every race is available at IMSA.com, with live streaming video of all races at IMSA.tv.
Practice: 8:45-9:15 a.m. (PT) and 12:50-1:30 p.m., Thursday, April 28
Qualifying: 3:40-4 p.m., Thursday, April 28
Round 1 (45 minutes): 3:40-4:25 p.m., Friday, April 29
Round 2 (45 minutes): 8-8:45 a.m., Saturday, April 30
Live streaming: Both races at http://www.imsa.com
Live timing: All on-track sessions at scoring.imsa.com
Source. LST Marketing