With only three races remaining in the 2017 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, the season championship, which seemed to be moving toward consistent conclusion, simply blew up after the triple-header weekend at Road America in Wisconsin. What happens this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway’s unforgiving 3.27-mile road course could well set the tone for the remainder of 2017.
The Aug. 4-6 event at Road America included the usual pair of races from the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA schedule, plus a makeup race that was rescheduled from Watkins Glen International in New York due to an early incident that left nearly a dozen cars unable to continue.
Jake Eidson’s early-season dominance has been threatened later in the season by several steadily-improving drivers and teams. Eidson, the Littleton, Colorado driver of the Kelly-Moss Road and Race No. 24, is the first recipient of the annual Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship, effectively funding the season for Eidson. He hit the ground running with five victories, including the single race at Watkins Glen that made it to completion.
At Road America, Columbus, Ohio’s Corey Fergus, driver of No. 00 Moorespeed/US LED/Byers Imports entry, clearly took the month off between races to regroup with his team, and came out of the gate on top, but only after the racers completed the postponed Watkins Glen race on an unusual Friday outing. In that event, it looked like just more of the same, with Eidson in charge from flag to flag, with Trenton Estep, the San Antonio, Texas driver of the No. 3 JDX Racing/Hertz car, in second.
But Saturday was another day. Fergus set fast time in qualifying, then led the entire race to notch his second victory of the year, following his triumph at Circuit of The Americas in Texas. Eidson was a solid second.
And Sunday, it was the same story: Fergus dominated, holding off a hard-charging Eidson. But it was what happened just behind Eidson that added a new element in the season competition: Sebastian Landy, the Great Falls, Virginia pilot of the No. 49 Forto Strong Coffee car, finished third in both races, his first podium finishes of the year. It shouldn’t be surprising, as Landy has shown improvement all year, aided by his Alex Job Racing team, one of the most experienced and successful Porsche teams in history.
In both races, Landy had to fight off young McKay Snow, a member of the Lehi, Utah Snow Racing family that includes his brother Madison, who races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series.
That’s how it stands in the Platinum class, which races brand-new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars that debuted just this year. There’s also a class within that class, the Masters, for drivers aged 45 and over.
On top Saturday was Jeff Mosing, the Austin, Texas driver of the TOPP Racing/Mosing Motorcars No. 01, with his first Masters win since his home track victory at Circuit of The Americas. Mosing scored a second win Sunday, edging out his Texas teammate David Baker in the TOPP Racing/Apex Capital Corp. No. 56.
In the Gold class – that’s for GT3 Cup cars from 2014-2016 – it’s been a tight battle between Fred Kaimer and Roman De Angelis. Both drivers had a tough race in the first Road America event, which was won by the third driver who has figured into the points standings – Kurt Fazekas, the Indianapolis, Indiana driver of the No. 52 Kelly-Moss Road and Race car.
In race two, Belle River, Ontario’s De Angelis rebounded, and strong, with a seventh-place overall finish, driving his No. 78 Mark Motors Racing car to a victory, even finishing ahead of seven Platinum drivers. De Angelis also took the Gold Cup win in the Watkins Glen makeup race.
Which brings us to VIRginia International Raceway, a genuine favorite of the teams and drivers. All the major players in all the classes have filed an entry for the two 45-minute sprint races that could well see some of the closest competition of the season.
Schedule (all times ET):
Practice: 9:40-10:10 a.m. and 5:30-6:10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 25
Qualifying: 11:40 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 26
Race 1 (45 minutes): 5:55-6:40 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26
Race 2 (45 minutes): 11:05-11:50 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 27
Source. LST Marketing