Competitors in one of Porsche’s 20 single-make Cup Challenge series around the world have just four rounds remaining to fight for 2016 championships in the 16-race season. Battles for the points lead in all classes are tight, making COTA an ever-important stop on the schedule.
Jesse Lazare, from Montreal, enters the two races at COTA with a 35-point lead in Platinum Cup in the No. 21 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche. After a slow start at the season opener in mid-March at Sebring International Raceway, caused by a tire puncture in Round 2, Lazare has deftly and confidently made his way to the top of the points standings.
Lazare must lead by 40 points after Round 14 to clinch his first Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship. He swept Rounds 11 and 12 at the last event, in late August at VIRginia International Raceway to pad his points lead over second-place Andrew Longe and third-place Lucas Catania.
Round 13 is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (CT) Thursday, Sept. 15. Round 14 will finish under the lights after beginning at 7:15 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16. Both races are 45 minutes. There will be two practices Wednesday, with qualifying at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Racing in the series is divided into two classes – Platinum Cup, featuring the 2014-2016 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based on the current seventh 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 championship 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.
Lazare, the top returning driver from 2015, seized the Platinum Cup points lead in early July at Watkins Glen International after trailing Catania for most of the season. Lazare continued the forward momentum with dominating victories at the next four races, two at Road America and two at VIRginia International Raceway. He leads the standings with 213 points.
Longe, from Naples, Florida, is also in championship contention. Longe earned his first series victory in Round 8 at Watkins Glen in the No. 47 Wright Motorsports Porsche. He took over second position in the points standings from Catania with two podium finishes in late August at VIR, giving him 178 points for the season
Catania, from Cazenovia, New York, is one of only four competitors to win a round in 2016. He earned his first series win in March during Round 2 at Sebring International Raceway in the No. 26 NGT Motorsport Porsche. He is third in points with 173.
A host of Texas-based drivers and teams will compete this week at COTA.
Will Hardeman, from Austin, will look to continue his recent progress while he still searches for his first podium finish of his young career in the No. 19 Porsche fielded by Moorespeed, which also is based in Austin.
Austin resident Jeff Mosing has been at the top of the Platinum Masters standings for most of the season in the No. 01 Porsche fielded by Texas-based TOPP Racing. Mosing, also a standout in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, earned his first overall podium finish this season in GT3USA afer placing third in Round 11 at VIR.
Mosing is locked in a tight Texas battle for the Platinum Masters title with Fred Poordad, from San Antonio, who drives the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Mosing leads Poordad, 215-204.
David Baker, from Colleyville, also is a threat for regular podium finishes in the Platinum Masters class. Baker drives the No. 56 TOPP Racing Porsche.
Other Texan competitors include Bill Smith of Dallas, who is making his series debut with TOPP Racing, and Austin resident Fred Kaimer, who drives the No. 23 NGT Motorsport Porsche.
Michael de Quesada, from Tampa, Florida, has led the Gold Cup class in his first season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama since sweeping the opening weekend at Sebring in the No. 31 Alegra Motorsports Porsche. De Quesada leads with 206 points, followed by Michael Levitas, from Baltimore, with 190 and Sebastian Landy, from Great Falls, Virginia, with 187.
Practice: 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (CT) and 2:25-3:05 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14
Qualifying: 8-8:20 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 15
Round 13 (45 minutes): 12:30-1:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15
Round 14 (45 minutes): 7:15-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16
Source. LST Marketing