After three successive events on comparatively flat, desert-based tracks (Las Vegas, Thermal and Utah), the series makes its way to the rolling hills of Willows, California, near the Mendocino National Forest. Thunderhill Raceway, home to the famous NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill held in December, is one of the few club-owned racing facilities (the track is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sports Car Club of America’s San Francisco Region).
The field with over 30 Porsche GT3 and GT4 cup cars will enjoy separate events, with two races on Saturday and Sunday. Diamond and Diamond Masters (2017-2018 991.2 GT3 Cup), Platinum (2015-16 991.1 GT3 Cup) and Gold (2010-2013 997.2 GT3 Cup) will compete in their own set of races, with Silver (Cayman Clubsport GT4 MR) and Bronze (2016 Cayman Clubsport GT4 Trophy) classes contesting a separate pair of events.
The series will utilize the classic three-mile, 15-turn course with the bypass around the very tight Turn 5 “Cyclone” turn. Series Director Steven Costello highlights what the drivers can expect from the upcoming weekend.
“Thunderhill is a classic road course,” said Costello. “One of the key focuses for the drivers will be figuring out how to navigate the varying speeds of the corners and the elevation changes. The drivers will also have to get used to being surrounded by green rolling hills instead of desert terrain!”
Veterans Kevin Woods (TruSpeed Autosport) and Loren Beggs (911 Design) return to action with a mere one point separating the top two in the premier Diamond class. In Diamond Masters, Competition Motorsports’ Michael Zuieback has enjoyed a consistent season, taking five of the six victories to date. 21-year-old Sean McAlister has taken the Platinum class by storm in his first season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Car (after two years in the GT4 class), scoring a perfect six for six in the victory column. The Racers’ Group has fielded two drivers in the Silver Class, Chris Bellomo and Jim Rappaport, with Bellomo leading his teammate in victories 5-1.
The fiercest competition this season has been in the Bronze class, with second year racer Laura Ely leading the standings over Carl Tofflemire and Steve Goldman. The Black Sheep Racing driver, who lives in the Bay Area, experienced her first ever track day at Thunderhill and looks forward to her first opportunity to race there.
“Thunderhill is such a fun track, with a lot of technical, fast corners with some great undulation,” said Ely. “This is the track I have the most laps at, having done my first ever track experience here in a Hooked on Driving (the track’s high performance driving experience) event in my street Porsche GT4 on the five-mile course. But I’ve never actually raced here and have only driven the Clubsport here once so I’m looking forward to it! I’ve also never driven the bypass before, but I’ve been watching Sean McAllister’s on-board videos – he’s basically the benchmark for the class!”
Competent Motorsport President Greg Franz is pleased with the level of competition so far in 2018, with each event seeing close, hard racing between all classes.
“We have some excellent championship battles throughout the series,” said Franz. “Thunderhill brings out the best in all the drivers and we expect more of the same great competition we’ve seen so far this season, characterized by clean, close racing. It will be another great show for the fans this weekend!”
With two races Saturday and Sunday, Pirelli Trophy West USA live timing and scoring can be followed throughout the weekend at http://www.competentmotorsport.com/index.php/live-timing/.
Source. Sunday Group