The SRO GT World Challenge America and SRO GT4 America championships launch their 2020 race seasons this weekend in Austin, Texas. 14 road car-based, Porsche-built race cars will challenge in six major events at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) with customer race programs. Three Porsche 911 GT3 R racers will pursue victory at the 20-turn, 3.426-mile (5.513-km) Grand Prix track outside of the Texas capital city in the GT World Challenge America. Eight Porsche Cayman GT4-based competition machines are entered in the GT4 SprintX races while three more are entered in the GT4 Sprint events. Each series will compete in two races – one Saturday, March 7, the second on Sunday, March 8.
The weekend’s headliner is the pair of 90-minute, two-driver, Pro-Am, Am and Silver class GT World Challenge America events. Three Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars are entered in the 14-car field with past series’ champions GMG Racing fielding team principal James Sofronas (Villa Park, California) and veteran Porsche racer Jeroen Bleekemolen (The Netherlands) in the top Pro-Am class, sharing the No. 14 rear-engine machine. Wright Motorsports remains a stalwart of both Porsche and the World Challenge series with the No. 20 of Amateur class drivers Max Root (Rancho Santa Fe, California) and San Antonio-Texas’ Fred Poordad. While both drivers are veterans of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama ranks, this weekend’s opening rounds of the SRO series will be the first time either driver will compete in the SRO GT3-spec class. Texas-based Park Place Motorsports will make its return at COTA. The Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California)-led program enters the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Texan David Ducote of Houston and local Al Metni from Austin. Both the Wright and Park Place entries will field their machines in the Am class.
The international GT4-specifications call for road cars that become factory modified race cars. No less than eight of the Porsche race cars make-up the SprintX entry list – the most of any car-make. GMG Racing has a single Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport entered for both of the two-driver format, 60-minute races with the No. 2 to be fielded for Jason Bell and Porsche expert Andrew Davis in the Pro-Am class. NOLASPORT enters three of the mid-engine German racers: the No. 7 of Sean Gibbons and Zac Anderson and No. 47 for Texan’s Matt Travis and Jason Hart are in the current generation 718 Cayman GT4 while the No. 46 of Austen Smith and John Dubets will run the previous-gen Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in the Pro-Am class. Longtime Porsche entrant TRG has entered a pair of Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport race cars with James Rappaport and Derek DeBoer sharing the No. 17 in the Am category as well as the No. 23 TRG-prepped Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport of Craig Lyons and Porsche ace Spencer Pumpelly in the Pro-Am class. The No. 37, readied by RS1, will have Charlie Bellurado and Porsche specialist Jan Heylen in the Pro-Am class 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. Black Swan Racing principal Tim Pappas continues his full return to racing, piloting the No. 54 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR with “man for all race cars” Bleekemolen in Pro-Am class.
The GT4 America Sprint series is the sole single-driver format officiated by the SRO in North America. All races are 50-minutes for the GT4 category cars with three Porsche-built machines entered. Jason Bell will campaign the No. 2 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport for GMG while Pumpelly looks for the 2020 Sprint Cup title from behind the wheel of the No. 66 TRG 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. The lone previous generation Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in the race is the No. 54 entered by Black Swan for Pappas.
Two test sessions for each will be held on Thursday, March 5 for all series and classes with official practice opening on Friday, March 6. Qualifying and the first race for all three championships will be held on Saturday, March 7 with the second race of the season scheduled for Sunday, March 8.
Porsche has earned 14 SRO major driver championships in North America since 1994. The most recent coming in 2019 with Scott Hargrove (Canada) racing a Pfaff Motorsports-entered Porsche 911 GT3 R to a GT World Challenge America Sprint Championship and 2018 with Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) claiming the Overall GT Drivers’ Championship with Wright Motorsports in a Porsche 911 GT3 R.