The Pirelli World Challenge series makes its first appearance at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca since 2012. PWC first raced at the Northern California track in the series' inaugural 1990 season. With 2015 being the inaugural season for GT Cup, this is the first time the class will compete at MRLS. GTA, TCA and TCB classes will also make their debut appearances at MRLS this coming weekend.
Pirelli World Challenge GT: O'Connell and Beretta Set for Showdown for GT Drivers' Championship
Defending 2014 champion Johnny O'Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., comes into the weekend leading in drivers' championship points with 1625. He looks to win his fourth straight series GT drivers' championship and will pilot the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. O'Connell's teammate, Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, has had a hard luck 2015 season and sits 13th overall in GT.
After leading the GT Drivers' Championship for much of the season, Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, Monaco in the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, comes into the weekend second in points with 1599, only 26 points behind O'Connell after closing the gap slightly at Sonoma. Beretta has won three races this season and he makes his second PWC series start at MRLS.
JD Davison, of St. Petersburg, Fla., in the No. 33 AE/Replay XD Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 sits third overall in the GT Championship coming into MRLS with 1490 points and has a mathematical chance to win the title if both O'Connell and Beretta falter. Davison makes his first career Pirelli World Challenge start at MRLS. Davison's teammate Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif., will pilot the No. 05 Nissan GT Academy GT-R AE Replay XD Nissan GT-R GT3. Heitkotter was promoted to GT from GTA after finishing third overall in Round 15 at Mid-Ohio.
Ryan Dalziel, comes into the weekend 4th in points with 1484 and also has a mathematical chance to win, but like Davison, he will need O'Connell and Beretta to falter. He with pilot the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3 R. Teammate Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, Calif., was promoted from the GTA class to GT at Barber and sits 9th overall in the standings. Lewis will drive the No. 41 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R. Dalziel and Lewis also look to solidify the GT Manufacturers' Championship for Porsche.
Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3, enters the weekend 5th in the drivers' standings with 1375 points. Estre won Round 18 at Sonoma and looks to play the spoiler role at MRLS. Teammate Robert Thorne, of Littleton, Colo. will pilot the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3. Thorne finished second to his teammate Estre in Round 7 at Barber (Thorne's best result thus far of the season).
Bentley Team Dyson Racing heads into the weekend with Guy Smith, of Beverley, England, piloting the No. 20 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Bentley Continental GT3 and Chris Dyson, of Pleasant Valley, N.Y. behind the wheel of the No. 16 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Bentley Continental GT3. Smith replaces Butch Leitzinger in the seat of the No. 20 machine. Smith makes his first career PWC start at MRLS, while Dyson sits 8th in the championship and won earlier this year at Road America.
Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., piloting the No. 2 DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS ultra, enters the weekend 6th in the championship. Skeen looks to close out the season strongly looking for his first win of 2015 at MRLS.
Ryan Eversley, of Atlanta, Ga. in the No. 43 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT enters the weekend 7th in points. Eversley has one win on the season (St. Petersburg) and makes his first career Pirelli World Challenge start at MRLS. Eversley's teammate Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis. in the No. 42 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT holds almost every statistical series record and sits 14th in the championship. Cunningham makes his 14th career series start at MRLS – of the over 100 drivers entered for the races this weekend, he has the most series wins at the track with four.
The 17-driver GT field is rounded out by series veteran James Sofronas, of Pound Ridge, N.Y., in the No. 14 GMG Audi R8 LMS ultra GMG Racing/Spyder/Mobil 1, Duncan Ende, of Los Angeles, Calif. in the No. 64 Merchant Services Ltd./Linospresso USA Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, and Nicky Catsburg, of Kirchanschoring, Germany in the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 REX. Ende has experience at MRLS having raced at the track in another sports car racing series, while Sofronas has 13 career PWC starts at MRLS. Catsburg makes his first career start at MRLS.
Pirelli World Challenge GTA: Montecalvo Looks to Solidify Drivers' Championship
Frankie Montecalvo, of Highlands, N.J. holds a commanding lead in the GTA Drivers' Championship after scoring his 7th win of the season at Sonoma. Since Road America, Montecalvo has been on a roll scoring six wins. He will pilot the No. 66 Bayshore Racing DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.
After leading the GTA Drivers' Championship for most of the season, Henrique Cisneros, of Miami, Fla. in the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 enters the MRLS weekend 2nd in points with 1767, 195 points behind Montecalvo. Cisneros makes his first series start at the track. Cisneros' brother Eduardo, of Miami, Fla. is also entered in GTA for MRLS piloting the No. 29 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia.
Martin Fuentes, of Mexico City, Mexico in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 comes into the weekend third in class points with 1,559. Fuentes won the Round 6 race at Barber.
Montecalvo's DragonSpeed teammate Eric Lux, of Buffalo, N.Y. will pilot the No. 08 Rembrandt Charms/Monticello Motor Club Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. Lux comes into the weekend fourth in class.
Turner Motorsport teammates Bill Ziegler, of Ponte Vedra, Fla., in the No. 95 Swisher Racing BMW E89 Z4 GT3 and Bret Curtis, of Austin, Texas, in the No. 32 Turner Motorsport/SPECTRA Resources Corp/United Steel Supply/Valspar Paint BMW E89 Z4 GT3 are entered in GTA. Curtis sits fifth while Ziegler sits seventh.
Drew Regitz, of Denver, Colo. will be in the No. 19 WWW.IRACERCOACHING.COM Audi R8 LMS ultra. Regitz sits 10th.
Rounding out the 13-car GTA field are Christina Nielsen, of Aarhus, Denmark, in the No. 7 Royal Purple/Orion Energy/LaSalle Solutions/PassTime USA TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Henrik Hedman, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in the No. 10 DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3, Timothy Pappas, of Boston, Mass. in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Dodge Viper GT3R, Alex Welch, of Englewood, Colo., in the No. 76 GMG Audi R8 LMS Ultra GMG and Mike Hedlund, of Woodside, Calif., in the No. 65 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia.
Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup presented by MOMO: Thompson Looks to Close Out Dominating Season with Win at MRLS
Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, Pa. continued his domination of the GT Cup class with his 12th win of the season in Round 17 at Sonoma. Thompson will pilot the No. 11 Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Constructors/Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes/Austin Hatcher Foundation Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Thompson leads the class with 2160 points.
TruSpeed Autosport's Sloan Urry, sits second with 1534 points on the strength of five runner-up finishes, and six thirds on the season. He will pilot the No. 02 Security National/Engel & Volkers Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Teammate Phil Fogg Jr., of Portland, Ore. will pilot the No. 18 Zoro/TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Lorenzo Trefethen, of Napa, Calif., heads into the weekend third in points with 1447. Trefethen scored his first career Pirelli World Challenge win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. He will drive the No. 13 Trefethen Family Vineyards Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Alec Udell, of The Woodlands, Texas will pilot the No. 17 Amsource Capital/Panther Pipeline GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. He scored his first career Pirelli World Challenge win in Round 12 at Mid-Ohio, followed that up with a win in Round 14 at Miller Motorsports Park, and then in Round 16 at Sonoma.
Preston Calvert, of Potomac, Md. in the No. 77 Phoenix Performance/Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 Cup sits 5th in the championship – Calvert equaled his best result thus far with a 4th in Round 11 at Road America. Victor Gomez Jr., of San Juan, Puerto Rico in the No. 81 Porsche San Juan Porsche 911 GT3 Cup sits 7th in the drivers' championship.
Rounding out the field of eight GT Cup entries is Mitch Landry, of Lake Charles, La. in the No. 97 Landry Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Landry sits 6th in the GT Cup Drivers' Championship.
Pirelli World Challenge GTS: Cooper Versus Aquilante for the Championship
With a win in Round 16, Michael Cooper, of Syosset, N.Y., in the No. 10 Blackdog Speedshop Chevrolet Camaro Z28, increased his lead in first place in the GTS Drivers' Championship and sits at 1475 points coming into the weekend. It was Cooper's fourth win of the season after winning at Circuit of the Americas, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Miller Motorsports Park. Cooper's teammate, series veteran Tony Gaples, of Libertyville, Ill., will pilot the No. 11 Blackdog Speedshop Chevrolet Camaro Z28.
Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, Pa., enters the MRLS weekend 107 points behind Cooper in the GTS Drivers' Championship. He will pilot the No. 32 Calvert Dynamics Phoenix American Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302. Aquilante's teammate Kurt Rezzetano, of Phoenixville, Pa., in the No. 37 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix American Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302 comes into Sonoma fifth in GTS Drivers' points. Aquilante and Rezzetano, along with the other drivers in class piloting the Boss 302, look to further solidify the GTS Manufacturers' Championship for Ford.
Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., sits third in drivers' championship points with 1320. Baldwin will pilot the No. 73 GTSport Racing/Umphrey's McGee Porsche Cayman. Buz McCall, of Boca Raton, Fla. will again team with Baldwin as the pilot of the No. 72 GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman.
Dean Martin, of Westland, Mich., sits fourth in the championship. He will pilot the No. 50 Rehagen Racing/Picture Cars East Ford Mustang Boss 302. Teaming with Martin will be 15-year-old phenom Nathan Stacy from Owesso, Okla. who has moved up from TC to GTS full time, in the No. 14 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302.
Also campaigning the iconic Chevrolet Camaro Z28 in the series is Best IT Racing's talented driver Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, Colo., in the No. 20 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. Lee won his first race of the season at Sonoma and sits 9th in the drivers' championship.
Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, Ont., comes into the weekend 6th in points. He will pilot the No. 38 Kinetic Motorsports PutOnTheBrakes.Org Kia Optima. Partnered with him will be teammate Ben Clucas, of Northampton, England. Clucas pilots the No. 36 Kinetic Motorsports DonorsChoose.Org Kia Optima and comes into the weekend 7th in drivers' standings.
Series veteran Nick Esayian, of San Diego, CA, pilots the No. 34 Special Operations Warrior Foundation/Justap Stephen Cameron Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 after having been in a Ford Mustang Boss 302 to start the season. Esayian sits 11th in class.
Mark Klenin, of Lone Tree, Colo., returns to GTS with his own team. Klenin will pilot the No. 62 Schomp Auto/Invisible Glass/Premier Copier Klenin Performance Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
Three-time series champion and winner of Round 9 at Road America, Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas will drive the No. 28 LG Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
Phoenix American Motorsports will also campaign the No. 35 Calvert Dynamics Phoenix American Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302 with Preston Calvert, Potomac, Md. behind the wheel. Calvert will do double duty over the weekend competing in both GT Cup and GTS.
Maserati Corse enters four Maserati GranTurismo at MRLS for Vafa Kordestani, of Burlingame, Calif., in the No. 21 Maserati Corse Maserati GranTurismo, Patrick Byrne, of Spokane, Wa., in the No. 24 Maserati Corse Maserati GranTurismo, Freddie Hunt, of Selham, West Sussex, England in the No. 26 Maserati Corse Maserati GranTurismo and Derek Hill, of Santa Monica, Calif., in the No. 27 Maserati Corse Maserati GranTurismo.
TRG-AMR enters Jeff Huber, of Menlo Park, Calif., in the No. 06 TRG-AMR Stand Up to Cancer/Exploratorium/Orion/Royal Purple/LaSalle/PassTime Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
Veteran sports car racer Jon Fogarty, of Bend, Or., is entered in the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Fogarty makes his first career PWC start this weekend.
Rounding out the 25-car GTS field is Vesko Kozarov, of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the No. 23 Skullcandy Team Nissan/Skullcandy/Stance Nissan 370Z; Geoff Reeves, of Cleveland, Ohio, in the No. 40 Buffalo Trace Bourbon Shadow Works Racing Chevrolet Camaro; Kevin Marshall, of Incline Village, NV in the No. 44 VSA Motorsports Lotus Evora GT4; and Paul Holton, of Tallahassee, Fla., in the No. 78 AERO Advanced Paint Technology/Children's Tumor Foundation Compass360 Racing Audi TT-RS.
Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car: Multiple Contenders Vie For Class Title
With three races scheduled at MRLS and a maximum total of 456 points up for grabs, there are a number of contenders still in the hunt for the TC title. Columbus, Ohio's Corey Fergus, in the No. 00 USLED/Axis Roofing/AERO/RSS/Motul Motorsports Promotions Porsche Cayman enters the weekend leading the TC Drivers' Championship with 1342 points. He leads Ernie Francis Jr. of Davie, Fla., piloting the No. 98 Breathless Performance/Time4Learning Breathless Racing Mazda MX-5 by only 47 points. Francis Jr. enters the weekend with 1295 points. Francis Jr., along with the other drivers piloting MX-5's look to help solidify the TC Manufacturers' Championship for Mazda this weekend.
After two disappointing weekends at Mid-Ohio and Miller, Adam Poland, of Mount Vernon, Texas, in the No. 33 Edge Addicts/Majestic Pet Eastex Motorsports Mazda MX-5 comes into the weekend with 1112 points and still has a chance to come out on top. Up until the Mid-Ohio weekend, Poland, who has yet to win a race this season, had been a model of consistency having only finished out of the top 5 three times in 12 races. He looks to return to form at MRLS.
The Webster, N.Y. team Berg Racing will be campaigning a car for John Weisberg in the No. 50 REDCOM Laboratories/Color Track/Red Line BERG Racing Mazda MX-5. Weisberg sits fifth overall with 1006 points.
Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., the former series TC Drivers' Champion from 2007, will run the No. 15 HPA Motorsports VW Jetta GLI. Altenburg won the Round 8 race at Elkhart Lake. HPA will also campaign the No. 16 HPA Motorsports VW Jetta GLI for Alex Welch of Englewood, Colo. Welch has his best PWC career finish with a second in Round 12 at Mid-Ohio. Welch sits sixth overall in class with 936 points.
Completing the 14-car TC field are Steve Burns, of San Antonio, Texas, in the No. 43 VP Racing Fuels Ian Lacy Racing Ford Mustang V6; Austin Snader, of Sealy, Texas, in the No. 64 Encapsulite International, Inc. Snader Racing Mazda MX-5; Nicolas Hammann, of Elkhart Lake, Wis., in the No. 35 Skullcandy Team Nissan Nissan 370Z; Randy Hale, of Haddam, Conn., in the No. 17 Hale Motorsports TransAero/Hale Propeller Mazda MX-5; Tommy Chen, of Pasadena, Calif., in the No. 68 CNC Racing Honda S2000; Fred Emich, of Denver, Colo., in the No. 87 Emich Racing Volkswagen Jetta GLI; Kevin Krauss, of Fishers, Ind. in the No. 88 Outlier Scion Group Porsche Cayman, and Paul Street, of Anniston, Ala., in the No. 93 Honda Motorsports Alabama (HMA) Honda/HPD/Megan/RV6 Performance/MOMO/Spec Clutch Honda Accord.
Pirelli World Challenge TCA: Wolfe Leads Class After Strong Results at Miller, Seguin and Rivera Look to Challenge for Class Championship
Defending class champion Jason Wolfe of Mount Vernon, Ohio, leads in the TCA Drivers' Championship with 1571 points after a strong Miller weekend winning all three races. Wolfe will drive the No. 36 Wolfe Trucking Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup. Teaming with him is Kris Wright, of Pittsburgh, Pa., in the No. 34 Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup and Canadian Samantha Tan, of Gormley, Ont. in the No. 38 Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup.
Fellow Canadian Patrick Seguin has quietly moved himself into contention for the class championship. Seguin has consistently finished in the top 5 and coming into MRLS is second in points with 1442. Seguin, of Ottawa, Ont., will pilot the No. 39 helpkevinproject.com/buynutrimind.com Branden Peterson Racing Honda Civic Si. Seguin also looks to help Honda win the TCA Manufacturers' Championship.
Tony Rivera, of Vista, Calif., in the No. 86 Brass Monkey Racing Tiburon Motorsports Scion FR-S comes into the weekend third in class points with 1279. Rivera has won six TCA races this season and he will need to get back onto the top step in victory circle if he wants to win the drivers' championship.
Series stalwarts Compass360 Racing bring three Honda Civic Sis to the battle at Mid-Ohio with Emilee Tominovich, of Clarksville, Md., in the No. 72 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si, Paul Holton, of Tallahassee, Fla., in the No. 71 Compass360 Racing Children's Tumor Foundation/HPD/Racing4Research.org Honda Civic Si and Paul Whiting, of Pahrump, Nev., in the No. 70 Honda Performance Development Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si. Tominovich sits fourth overall in the championship standings with 1137 points.
Also competing in TCA at MRLS are Chase Pelletier, of Brampton, Ont., in the No. 11 American Honda/Carsquare.com Garrett Racing Honda Civic Si; Kevin Anderson, of Huntington, Station, N.Y., in the No. 22 Techsportracing.com Tech Sport Racing Mazda RX-8 and teammate Gino Carini, of Fox Point, Wis., in the No. 23 Tech Sport Racing Mazda RX-8; Brian Lift, of Crestwood, Ill., in the No. 99 Call One/Outlier Racing Mazda RX-8; Andrew Rains, of Auburn, Ala., in the No. 67 Shea Racing Lucas Oil/BUBBA Burger/Hendrick Honda Honda Civic SI, and Steve Bottom, of Newport Beach, Calif., in the No. 52 Steve Bottom Racing Mazda MX-5.
Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec: Schwartz Versus Nixon for the Championship
Johan Schwartz, of Huntersville, N.C., had a successful Miller weekend recording his 9th win of 2015. Coming into the finale weekend of the season, he leads the TCB class drivers' championship with 1860 points and will pilot the No. 25 Tech Sport Racing / Zero Cancer Chevy Sonic.
Schwartz holds a 199-point lead over Glenn Nixon, of Mission, B.C. who will pilot the No. 58 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com/Nixon Prosport Racing.ca Honda Fit. Nixon scored two wins at Miller, and won all three races at Road America. Racing.ca will campaign a total of three cars in TCB with Nixon's teammates Andrei Kisel, of North Vancouver, B.C. in the No. 57 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com Racing.ca MINI Cooper and Nic Duynstee, of Vancouver, BC in the No. 59 Racing.ca/Nixon Prosports/LaptopScreen.com/Miniusa.com Racing.ca MINI Cooper.
Van Svenson, of Hyde Park, N.Y., will pilot the No. 2 Hack Racing Chevrolet Sonic. Svenson sits third overall with 1133 points.
Jason Fichter, of Jupiter, Fla., in the No. 7 Surf Fire & Security Breathless Racing MINI Cooper comes into the weekend fourth in points with 1085.
The 15-car TCB field includes P.J. Groenke, of Toronto, Ont., in the No. 8 Verax.ca/Tundra/Mulligan Gold/Clairhaven Ltd/Martinrea International Inc/Pelto Agri Investments/Warp Speed Computers Inc. P.J. Groenke Racing MINI Cooper; Marc Sherrin, of Lucas, Texas, in the No. 27 Steadfast Funding Ford Fiesta; Tom Noble, of Medina, Minn., in the No. 48 BIR Performance Driving School/West Real Estate Shea Racing MINI Cooper; Jay Salinsky, of New Port Richey, Fla., in the No. 66 Fit IDLife/Race2IDLife.com Shea Racing Honda Fit; Steve Taake, of Houston, Texas, in the No. 98 Black Armor Helmets/MAZDASPEED Mazda 2; Tom O'Gorman, of Mason, Ohio, in the No. 94 Black Armor Helmets Full Throttle Indoor Karting Honda Fit; Matt Travis, of The Woodlands, Texas, in the No. 63 Steadfast Motorsports Steadfast Funding Ford Fiesta; James Wilson, of Kyle, Texas, in the Black Armor Helmets/Mazda Motorsports Mazda2, and Joey Jordan, of Fallbrook, Calif., in the No. 47 Protomotive Mazda 2.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 11-Turn road course, 2.238 Miles
Friday, Sept. 11:
8 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. TC, TCA, TCB
Saturday, Sept. 12:
9:30 am – 10:15 a.m. GTS
11:25 am – 12:10 p.m. GT, GTA, GT Cup
50 minutes (GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS), 40 minutes (TC, TCA, TCB)
Saturday, Sept. 12:
1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Race # 2 TC/TCA/TCB
Sunday, Sept. 13:
8:45 a.m. – 9:20 a.m. Race # 3 TC/TCA/TCB
10:35 a.m. – 11:25 a.m. GTS Race
1:35 p.m. – 2:25 p.m. GT/GTA/GT Cup Race
All times listed above Pacific
Television (on CBS Sports Network):
Sunday, September 20, 3:30 PM: GT/GTA, GT Cup presented by MOMO. Wednesday, September 23, Time 9 PM: GTS. Wednesday, September 23, 10 PM: TC, TCA, TCB. All times listed Eastern.