A 21-car Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama field is racing this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in the first race at the legendary venue for the IMSA-sanctioned single-make series since 2016.
It is the seventh of eight event weekends on the 2019 schedule for the series, with a pair of 45-minute races on tap for Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s race is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET) with Sunday’s race starting at 4:20 p.m. PT (7:20 p.m. ET). Both races will be streamed live on IMSA.tv.
Eighteen-year-old Canadian driver Roman De Angelis holds a commanding, 58-point lead over 20-year-old Californian Max Root in the Platinum Cup standings for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars built between 2017 and 2019. De Angelis has driven the No. 79 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche to nine victories and a total of 11 podiums from the 12 races contested thus far this season. De Angelis led the first official practice session of the weekend on Friday morning with a best lap of one minute, 27.497 seconds (92.080 mph).
“I’m happy that IMSA brought us here,” said De Angelis of WeatherTech Raceway. “It’s a track I’ve never been to up until yesterday morning. What an awesome place. I enjoy it already. It’s probably already one of my favorite tracks just for the elevation, but also the scenery. Beautiful Monterey, California is not a bad place to be on a race weekend, not only spending the day at a beautiful track, but then you go and you have nice dinners and stuff like that at night.
“It’s a pretty cool place to be, especially with the atmosphere of the IndyCar drivers finishing their championship this weekend and we’re getting close to wrapping ours up. So, I’m really happy to be here and I hope we can get some good results.”
San Diego’s Root, meanwhile, scored his first two victories in GT3 Cup Challenge USA competition by sweeping the series’ most recent doubleheader at VIRginia International Raceway last month in the No. 7 Wright Motorsports entry, A similar performance in his home state this weekend would keep him mathematically in contention for the title heading to the season-ending doubleheader at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 10-11.
De Angelis would need to extend his championship lead to 70 points or more by the end of the weekend to clinch.
The closest of three class championship battles in GT3 Cup Challenge USA can be found in the Platinum Masters class for drivers 45 years of age and older. Alan Metni, who won the title for the first time last year, currently leads Fred Poordad by 19 points, 372-353. Metni has driven the No. 99 AM Motorsports/Kelly-Moss entry to five Platinum Masters victories this season and has been on the podium a total of 10 times.
Poordad, meanwhile, picked up his third Platinum Masters win of the season in the first race of the VIR event weekend aboard the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche. He’s also one of only three drivers on this weekend’s entry list – joining No. 25 NGT Motorsport Porsche driver Victor Gomez IV and No. 52 Kelly-Moss Road and Race driver Kurt Fazekas – who also competed at WeatherTech Raceway in the series’ last visit four seasons ago.
In the Gold Cup class for 911 GT3 Cup cars built between 2014 and 2016, Sebastian Carazo also has a comfortable championship lead. The driver of the No. 27 NGT Motorsport has a 41-point lead, 406-365, over No. 5 Moorespeed Porsche driver Rob Ferriol. Carazo also led the Gold Cup practice Friday morning with a lap of 1:29.006 (90.519 mph).
“It’s a very historic racetrack,” said Carazo of his first WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca visit. “I’ve always wanted to race here since I was little. I’ve played this track on different consoles since I was little. When I was driving go-karts, I said, ‘I want to someday drive there.’ It’s something like a dream come true to be able to race here. It’s a beautiful area, a beautiful track – very sandy – but it’s a good track.
“For the weekend, I’m looking to have a safe race, get good points in and just drive the great car NGT has for the track. I just want to drive it safe, complete it with good points, but safe and not do any unnecessary risks.”
Carazo has eight class victories this season and has finished on the podium in all 12 events. Ferriol, meanwhile, has two wins in his past four series starts and got a bit of a jump on the competition last weekend when he raced in Saturday’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. He and co-driver Spencer Pumpelly narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place run in the No. 5 Moorespeed Audi.
Fazekas is the only other Gold Cup driver to win, which he did in Race #2 at Barber Motorsports Park in April and the first race of the June doubleheader at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
The weekend schedule for GT3 Cup Challenge USA began with a 30-minute practice session Friday morning with a second, 45-minute session scheduled from 1:10-1:55 p.m. PT Friday afternoon. The 15-minute qualifying session, which will set the grid for both races, goes off at 8:10 a.m. PT Saturday morning.
Live timing & scoring data from all sessions will be available on IMSA.com.