Announced less than one year ago but decades in its creation, the Porsche Carrera Cup North America will take the green flag for the first time on Thursday, March 18 at Sebring International Raceway. A day later, Friday, March 19, the second round will start at 10:10 a.m. ET. The newest Porsche one-make series – one of ten Carrera Cups worldwide – will launch on this continent with 35 entries scheduled to start the twin 45-minute races.
The Count by Class.
The field will be spread across three classes: Pro, Pro-Am and Pro-Am 991. 28 of the 35 cars on the official pre-event entry list are the newest Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, the first race car built on the 992 generation of the iconic sports car. Those entries – which will receive their international competition debut this week – are split nearly evenly between the Pro class (intended for professional drivers) and the Pro-Am class (intended for drivers who do not make their living in motorsport). The 15 Pro entries and 13 Pro-Am cars make-up the grid of new machines as of March 15. The remaining nine cars are of the previous generation – type 991 – Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
Leh Keen (Dublin, Georgia) is making his official competition return in the series. Driving the 331RS Motorsport Porsche No. 12, Keen – a multiple-time champion in Porsche race cars during his career will team with Ryan Gates (Minneapolis, Minnesota) who will campaign the No. 11. Topp Racing is a veteran entrant in Porsche one-make series and comes loaded with T.J. Fischer (Vacavile, California) in the No. 58. Tom Collingwood (Canada) will compete at his highest level of competition to date in the No. 69 Porsche entered by BGB Motorsport, both driver and team are veterans of GT4 competition with the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. McKenna is a familiar name to Porschephiles and the Porsche Carrera Cup North America will see Hutton McKenna (Newport Beach, California) racing the No. 88 drapped in the familiar colors of the family’s Porsche dealership which once adorned the successful Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 race cars of the early 2000s.
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.
Sports car racing has famously featured expert drivers achieving impressive results despite motorsport not being their fulltime profession. The Pro-Am class will see that tradition continue with the likes of Alan Metni (Austin, Texas) who broke into the top-five overall with the quickest Pro-Am lap driving the No. 99 Kelly-Moss Road & Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car with a time of 2:03.078 in the final session of testing. Efrin Castro (Palisades Park, New Jersey) in the No. 65 Team Hardpoint-EBM entry also ran toward the front during the two-day test. All Porsche fans are familiar with Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) who will add a full season of Carrera Cup North America to his SRO and IMSA WeatherTech schedules in the No. 54 JDX Racing-prepared Black Swan Racing entry. Other drivers will challenge for the class honors on the two race days. Vernon McClure (Chesterfield, Virginia) will be behind the wheel of the TPC-entered No. 10, Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Curt Swearengin has been consistently near the front in past one-make championships in the No. 17 ACI Motorsports Porsche. Bill Smith (Dallas, Texas) brings the No. 42 Topp Racing-prepared Porsche to the class while John Goetz (Weston, Connecticut) will pilot the No. 57 in his move up to Carrera Cup with Wright Motorsports. Kelly-Moss Road & Race will add Rene Robichaud (Cincinnati, Ohio) in the No. 84 to close out the class.
Twelve previous generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars – type 991.2 – are also entered for the twin, 45-minute races, nine of which ran during testing. The No. 55 Goldcrest Motorsports Porsche driven by Matt Halcome (Dalls, Georgia) was the quickest in the Pro-Am 991 class with a time of 2:05.214 in testing. Halcome’s time was two-seconds quicker than the pole position time set in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at Sebring in November 2020. Goldcrest Motorsports brings four previous-gen machines for Jim Still (Huntsville, Alabama) in the No. 8, sports car racing veteran Grady Willingham (Birmingham, Alabama) in the No. 21, the No. 29 for Jeffrey Majkrzak (Orono, Minnesota) and Philip Martien (Finksburg, Maryland) in the No. 72. ACI Motorsport fields the No. 24 for Kurt Hunt (Atlanta, Georgia) and is prepping the No. 64 for Ted Giovanis (Highland, Maryland). Michael Levitas (Pikesville, Maryland) will have his TPC Racing-prepared No. 36 on the grid while Topp Racing has entered the No. 56 for Frank Raso (Cleburne, Texas). Kelly-Moss Road & Race adds to its sting of Pro and Pro-Am type 992 entries with two cars in the Pro-Am 991 class: Tom Balames (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan) in the No. 59 and Joseph Lombardo (Bath, Ohio) in the No. 92. Craig Conway (Edgewater, Florida) will look for the podium at Sebring in the No. 97 Irish Mike’s Racing Porsche.
Junior Program North America.
Further refining the field, eight drivers have entered the Porsche Junior Program North America. All of these drivers, 23-years-old and younger and entered for a full-season, will have the advantage of expert training in the key areas ranging from car set-up, Michelin tire knowledge through to physical as well as mental training and media coaching throughout the 2021 race season. These young aces – all racing in the Pro class – include Sean McAlister (Beverly Hills, California) in the No. 2 JDX Racing Porsche, the Kelly-Moss Road & Race-prepared Porsche of Kay van Berlo (Netherlands), McAlister’s Canadian teammate at JDX, Parker Thompson in the No. 9, the open test’s fastest driver Seb Priaulx (United Kingdom) who races the No. 15 Kelly-Moss Road & Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, Max Root (San Diego, California) driving the Moorespeed-Wright Motorsports No. 7, Seb Carazo (Puerto Rico) piloting the No. 27 Kelly-Moss-prepped car, Dylan Murry (Cumming, Georgia) in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche and 2020 Hurley Haywood Scholarship winner Riley Dickinson (New Braunfels, Texas) who is at the wheel of the No. 53 Team Hardpoint-EBM Porsche.
2019 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA champion Jeff Kingsley (Canada) was announced to the No. 16 MRS GT-Racing entry for the weekend joined at the veteran Porsche Supercup team by Erik Johansson (Sweden).
The 3.74-mile, 17-turn track in central Florida is perhaps the most appropriate place in the United States or Canada for the newest tier on the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid in North America to take its first breath. In its 69-year history, Sebring and its internationally recognized Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring are just a few years younger than the German sports car manufacturer. The two have grown together with Porsche the undisputed leader in nearly every category of success at the venue. Porsche holds the distinction of having won the “12-Hours” 18 times overall, six times more than its nearest rival, and 74 times in class. In 2020, Porsche scored wins in both the GTLM and GTD class with its Porsche 911 RSR-19 and Porsche 911 GT3 R respectively. The track has been the site of multiple Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge events in the past and the location of the first appearance of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America and the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, type 992, in official series testing, March 8 – 9.
A single qualifying session will, in part, set the grid for both the Thursday and Friday races. Scheduled for 30-minutes on Thursday, March 18 beginning at 12:25 p.m. ET., the grid for Race 1 will be set based on the fastest qualifying lap by each competitor. The grid for Race 2 will be set based on either the second-fastest lap set by each driver in qualifying or, by that driver’s fastest lap in Race 1, should that lap time be quicker than their second-fastest qualifying time.
The spectacularly styled Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, type 992, is the first racing machine based on the current Porsche 911 platform and the first one-make racer of the sports car manufacturer to feature a wide, turbo-spec body. The car’s naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine produces 510 hp. During the March 8 – 9 Porsche Carrera Cup North America open test at Sebring, the completely new Cup 911 race car exceeded even the highest expectations with a best lap time of 2:00.870 set by Priaulx in the second-session.
Where to Watch.
Live coverage and timing and scoring for each session can be followed at www.PorcheCarreraCup.us.
Dr. Daniel Armbruster, President & CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“After several years of very active effort by everyone at PMNA, we have finally reached the moment we have all been waiting for: the start of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America. This is the beginning of something very special not only for North America but for the entire Porsche Motorsport Pyramid around the world. It is something of which everyone at Porsche and every Porsche owner can be excited and proud. We still have work to do but when we start the races, when we see the green flag fall for the first time, we will be able to enjoy a significant accomplishment for the Porsche.”
Brian Blocker, Series Manager, Porsche Carrera Cup North America.
“The test here last week was very successful; we all learned a great deal. I believe everyone in the paddock, despite all the work we still had to do, would have loved to have started racing right then. Porsche Carrera Cup is a step up from everything we have done before. Every aspect of it is more refined and more targeted. It came as no surprise that every one of our teams enters the first race weekend of the inaugural season having recognized that and they have met, or in most cases exceeded, our expectations up to this point. It is our objective to roll out with 35 cars, take the green flag and make people take notice of Porsche one-make racing. Thanks to the effort of all of our customer teams and the Porsche team in Germany and at PMNA, I believe we have all the tools to do that. Only time will tell us if we have created something truly unique and special in North American motorsports but I believe we are launching on that target.”
Jeremy Sundt, Customer Experience Specialist, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“We are looking forward to seeing all the hard work of the last several years come together for the green flag on Thursday. I believe we will have one of the deepest, most talented fields North America has seen in one make racing on many years. While their time with the type 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car has been limited, the teams are well prepared. We have a really strong group of the previous generation car too. Everyone used the test here at Sebring well. I am very impressed and so grateful to all of our customer teams. After all the hard work, I think everyone is ready to see some hard, and clean, racing this week.”
Sebring Porsche Carrera Cup North America Event Schedule. Rounds 1 and 2.
Wednesday, March 17.
Practice 1. 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET – 30-minutes
Thursday, March 18.
Practice 2. 8:15 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. ET – 30-minutes
Qualifying. 12:25 p.m. – 12:55 p.m. ET – 30-minutes
Race 1. Pre-Race. 5:25 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET – 5-minutes
Race 1. 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. ET – 45-minutes
Friday, March 19.
Race 2. Pre-Race. 10:05 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. ET – 5-minutes
Race 2. 10:10 a.m. – 10:55 a.m. ET – 45-minutes