The 2017 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama will feature 16 rounds at some of the most challenging and exciting circuits in North America, including one new venue for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Single-Make Series.
Sonoma Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park will be new additions, increasing the series’ growing profile with competitors and fans in its 13th season. One additional event weekend will be announced soon.
Two 45-minute rounds will be contested at each of eight events to comprise the 16-round schedule in 2017. At least 10 rounds also will take place during IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events, putting drivers and teams into the brightest sports car racing spotlight in North America.
“Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama remains a mainstay of IMSA competition after more than a decade of great racing, and its popularity continues to expand,” said Scott Atherton, IMSA president. “The 2017 schedule takes the series all over the United States, providing fantastic action for teams, drivers, our dedicated partners Porsche and Yokohama and, most importantly, the fans.”
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is one of the largest 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. The championship is the perfect platform for drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the WeatherTech Championship, or as a destination for drivers whose participation in the series fulfills a lifelong dream.
The 2017 season will get underway March 17-18 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, as part of the prestigious Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida race week. Rounds 3 and 4 will be held April 21-23 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, the series’ first visit to the picturesque road circuit.
The next two rounds will be held at a venue to be announced soon, and are expected in the May-June time frame. Rounds 7 and 8 are scheduled for June 30-July 2 at historic Watkins Glen International during the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen WeatherTech Championship event.
The second half of the season gets underway with two events in August at long, challenging circuits also hosting the WeatherTech Championship. Rounds 9 and 10 are on Aug. 4-6 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, followed by Rounds 11 and 12 on Aug. 25-27 at VIRginia International Raceway in Danville, Virginia.
Championship pressure will mount as the series makes its Sonoma Raceway debut Sept. 15-17 at Sonoma, California, for Rounds 13 and 14. Titles will be decided at the final two rounds of the season Oct. 5-7 during the prestigious Petit Le Mans WeatherTech Championship event at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.
“The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama continues to provide a tremendous development platform for drivers of all skill levels and teams, and is an essential step in the Porsche developmental system,” said Jens Walther, president and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America. “This series grows from strength to strength every season, thanks to our long-term relationship with IMSA and partners such as Yokohama.”
Yokohama will return as the official tire provider and presenting sponsor of the series for the ninth consecutive season in 2017. The company expanded its marketing of the series both in print and digital campaigns.
“Our partnership with IMSA and Porsche has helped the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama become a centerpiece of Yokohama’s motorsports program in North America,” Yokohama Tire Corporation Motorsports Manager Duane Sampson said. “Year after year, the series continues to provide great opportunities for drivers and teams alike while providing the fans with great racing that showcases our product’s strengths.”
Racing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is divided into two classes – Platinum Cup, featuring the latest Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous iteration 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.
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 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama are prepared and sealed by Porsche Motorsports North America, creating a level playing field on which driving talent and team setup skill prevail.
Tight competition on great circuits in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama has launched many drivers and teams to success in higher levels of professional sports car racing over the last decade. Among those talented drivers are 2012 Platinum Cup champion Sean Johnston, a full-time competitor in 2013-14 in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, 2013 Platinum Cup champion Madison Snow, who has competed in the GT Daytona class in the WeatherTech Championship since 2014, 2015 Platinum Cup champion Elliott Skeer, who races in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona title contender Christina Nielsen.
2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Schedule
March 17-18 Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida*
April 21-23 Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
May/June To Be Confirmed
June 30-July 2 Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York*
Aug. 4-6 Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin*
Aug. 25-27 VIRginia International Raceway, Danville, Virginia*
Sept. 15-17 Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, California
Oct. 5-7 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia*
* — In conjunction with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events
Source. LST Marketing