Porsche won the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Overall GT Championship for Manufacturers with its 911 GT3 R. The only Porsche North American factory driver, Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), piloted the iconic rear-engine racer to the GT Sprint and GT Overall Drivers’ titles last year while James Sofronas (Villa Park, California) took the trophies for the GT Amateur (GTA) category with the GT3-spec Porsche entry. This weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Florida), the German brand will mount a title defense with a new set of teams and drivers in the continent’s premier sprint format GT racing series.
Topping the list of contenders to help return the familiar 911 silhouette to the top step of the podium is “works” driver Michael Christensen (Denmark). The Dane will make his PWC debut in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with Race 1 on March 9. While both Christensen and the Carlos de Quesada-owned effort are new to the 19-race schedule – which will be held across ten race weekends over the Sprint and SprintX Championships – they are not new to one-another. The pairing combined in 2017 to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTD class in a 911 GT3 R.
Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate and two-time IMSA Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Champion (2014, 2017) Scott Hargrove of Canada comes into the PWC GT class with Pfaff Motorsports in 2018. Like Christensen and Alegra, Pfaff, one of the most recognized Porsche names in Canada, and Hargrove come to the temporary street course in St. Pete fresh to the series. Each has a strong history in motorsports and with Porsche which positions them well in the strong eight-car GT class.
The 28-car GTS class also brings two new Porsche team names to that division. The GT4-spec Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR, a multi-time winner in the class in 2014, will be campaigned by veteran Porsche entrant Muehlner Motorsports America and Pfaff Motorsports. Muehlner’s No. 21 will have Italian Gabriele Piana behind the wheel. Piana is new to the category in 2018 but will race in the “pro” category. Pfaff, previously best known for its GT3 Cup entries, will bring Canadian rookie Orey Fidani to St. Pete the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course in the No. 13 car. Fidani will race for GTSA (GTS Amateur) accolades.
The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will run two, 50-minute races to debut the 2018 Sprint season, the first on Saturday, March 9, and the second on Sunday, March 10. The GT races, combining GT, GTA and GT Cup, will be held separately of the GTS-only races.
Porsche Entries at St. Petersburg.
A total of four (4) Porsche Motorsport-built race cars across three Pirelli World Challenge classes – GT, GTS and GTSA – are entered to race at on the streets of St. Petersburg this weekend.
GT Class – Two (2) Porsche 911 GT3 R.
No. 24 Alegra Motorsports. Michael Christensen (Denmark)
No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports. Scott Hargrove (Canada)
GTS Class – One (1) Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
No. 13 Pfaff Motorsports. Orey Fidani (Canada)
GTSA Class – One (1) Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports America. Gabriele Piana (Italy)