Long Crowned Overall Drivers Champion, Cooper Takes Two Pro Wins At Sonoma For Pirelli World Challenge GT Season Finale. (18.09.17)

Photo: world-challenge.com

Patrick Long clinched the Overall GT Drivers Championship and Michael Cooper won twice at Sonoma Raceway on September 16 – 17 as the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge drew to a close for the GT classes.

Cooper, driving the #8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS.V-R took the lead shortly after the start in Race One when pole-sitter Daniel Mancinelli in the #31 TR3 Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 had to back out of the throttle to avoid a potential jump-start penalty. Cooper held on the lead with Alvaro Patent, piloting the #9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, finishing second and Michael Cooper taking the final podium position.

Following Johnny O’Connell’s off during FP2, the Cadillac Racing crew had worked through the night to repair the #3 Cadillax ATS-V.R and Cooper was quick to dedicate his victory to the team.

“It was an incredible race win today,” said Cooper. “The Cadillac guys were here till 2.00am last night finishing the #3 car and just to reward them with something like this is awesome and makes me so happy.”

Cooper was pleased that his concentration on the start had paid dividends.

“I asked the question in the drivers meeting about the start procedure because I know guys who have been messing with it a little and getting penalties for it,” said Cooper. “Then Daniel went a little early and had to get out of the gas and I kept going because he had gone and I’m like ‘I’m not going to let everyone drive away from me’.”

“From there he put some pressure on me early on but I was able to conserve tyres – the traction management in this Cadillac is unreal. It allowed me to keep the tyres under me and that’s why we still had the pace all fifty minutes.”

Patrick Long, driving the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R was pleased to have secured the drivers title but had been frustrated by a fellow competitor’s tactics.

Sonoma, CA - Sep 15, 2017: The Pirelli World Challenge racers take to the track on Pirelli tires during the PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA at the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA.

Photo: world-challenge.com

“He (Alvaro Parente) was wearing out my rear bumper and after last year I hate points-racing but there’s not a lot of trust with a few of my rivals out there,” said Long. “In the end it was the right move. I still had a lot of pressure from behind from Pierre (Kaffer) but the car was good today.”

“The Porsche GT3 R is the car to have on tracks like this where it’s technical and twisty – short wheel-base, lightweight and agile. Thank you to Wright Motorsports. These guys worked their tails off. We had to wait an extra year and it feels that much sweeter.”

Race Two saw Cooper and Long battling once again for the lead with the newly-crowned Overall GT Drivers Champion finishing less than a second behind Cooper.

The race got off to an unfortunate start after Daniel Mancinelli, driving the #31 TR3 Racing Ferrari F488 GT3, made contact with Alvaro Parente in the # 9 K-Pax Racing McLaren 650S GT3. The resulting damage and recovery brought out the Safety Car and caused the retirement of Parente. Mancinelli in the #31 car received a two-minute stop-gap penalty for causing the accident and went on to finish fifteenth overall.

Following his second victory of the weekend Cooper reflected on his progress as a professional driver.

“Most kids start out in karts or cars when they’re very young and I didn’t do that,” continued Cooper. “I started when I was 20, and I’m 28 now so it hasn’t been that long. But winning three championships in a short amount of time, and that I’ve done it – getting rides on merit and not any other way…. Also, Patrick Long mentioned the CVs of the factory drivers in this category and you look at my resume against those guys and it’s pretty easy to read so that makes me very proud that I can compete with guys like that and hold them off for the win.”

Following the final round for the GT classes in 2017, Pirelli World Challenge announced the calendar for the 2018 championship with the season-opener at St. Petersburg on March 9 – 11 next year.

FIA WEC Returns To Texas For Round 6 (14.09.17)

Photo: www.fiawec.com

Following the far-reaching announcements concerning the future of the FIA World Endurance Championship made at the fifth round of the 2017 championship from Mexico, the WEC returns to the Circuit of the America for the sixth round of the last traditional summer season for the premier global endurance racing championship.

26 cars will take to the grid for the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas – four in the LMP1 class, nine in the LMP2 category, eight in the LM GTE class and five entries in the LM GTE Am category.

There are three driver changes from the entry list for Round Five. Stéphane Sarrazin replaces Anthony Davison in the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid.

In the LMP2 class Benjamin Hanley replaces Jonathan Hirschi in the #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA 07. In the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470, André Negrão replaces Matt Rao.

After announcing its departure from the FIA World Endurance Championship, Porsche leads the Manufacturers Championship on 198 points, 56.5 points ahead of Toyota.

In LMP2, the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07 driven by Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent leads the LMP2 FIA World Endurance Teams Trophy on 118 points, 23 points ahead of nearest rivals, the #31 Vaillante Rebellion, piloted by Julien Canal, Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna. 19 points back, in third place, is the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut with the driver line-up of Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and André Negrão.

COTA2 a.a. 17.09.14

Photo: www.fiawec.com

Competition for the GT Pro FIA World Endurance Team Trophy is even closer than that in LMP2. Three manufacturers hold the podium spots going into the sixth round with the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT with the driver line-up of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell leading the table on 96 points, just eight points ahead of the #91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR of Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki. Five points behind, in third place, is the #71 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE driven by Davide Rigon and Sam Bird.

Three manufacturers are also fighting it out for domination of the LMGTE Am standings with the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR (991) of Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst heading the table on 120 points, eight ahead of the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari F488 GTE of Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin. Aston Martin is in third place with the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda on 110 points.

The two twenty-minute qualifying sessions get underway at 15:05 local time on Friday September 15 with the lights going out for the start of the six-hour race at 11:56 on Saturday September 16.

The race can be followed via the FIA WEC app with live timing available at www.fiawec.com.

As the 2017 season approaches its eastern swing and we head the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’, this will be the last visit to the Circuit of the Americas for the foreseeable future. The proposed IMSA/WEC double-header at Sebring in March 2019 will be the next occasion that World Championship cars race in the US. The 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas promises to be a race to remember for many seasons to come.

2017 Pirelli World Challenge Heads To Sonoma For GT Showdown (13.09.17)

Photos Above: world-challenge.com

The Pirelli World Challenge visits Sonoma Raceway, formerly Sears Point Raceway, in the Sonoma Mountains, California for the final weekend of GT action in the 2017 season on September 15 – 17.

There are 42 entries in the GT field with 14 cars entered in the GT (GT3) category, six in the GTA class (GT3 for non-professional drivers) and one in the GT Cup class. In the GTS (GT4 classes) there are eight entries in the GTS category and 13 in the non-professional GTSA class.

With the SprintX championship concluding at the previous round from the Circuit of the Americas, Texas, Sonoma will see the 2017 overall GT championships decided.

Patrick Long, driver of the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, leads the Overall GT Driver’s standings on 320 points, 28 ahead of the second-placed Alvaro Parente in the #9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3. Just four points behind Parente and driving the #8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R is Michael Cooper.

“The COTA races were points days that we needed,” said Patrick Long, ahead of the Grand Prix of Sonoma. “I’m going to Sonoma with my head still down, 100% full throttle and completely focused because, as we learned last year, it’s never over till it’s over. We just have to push to close this out for the manufacturers, drivers and year-end championship.”

With five victories so far this season, and a second place in the previous SprintX round at the Circuit of the Americas, Patrick Long must go into the final two races of the 2017 championship as firm favourite. However, with 50 points on offer for the winners of the final two races and only 32 points separating the top three, anything could happen.

The Overall GT Manufacturer’s Championship fight is equally close with only seven points covering the top three. Porsche leads the standings on 113 points, six points clear of Cadillac. McLaren GT sits just one point behind Cadillac.

With Lawson Aschenbach, driving the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4, having secured the 2017 Sprint GT Drivers Championship, all eyes will be on the fight for second place where Ian James in the #50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT has a 17-point advantage over Martin Barkey in the #80 KTM Xbow GT4. James has displayed a high level of consistency as the season has progressed with victories at Road America, Mid-Ohio, Utah and the Circuit of the Americas. It would be brave to bet against him.

The format of the weekend sees qualifying for all classes taking place on the Saturday morning with one-hour races for the GT/GTA/GT Cup classes and GTS classes taking place on Saturday afternoon and evening and again on the Sunday morning and afternoon.

All races are live-streamed on the Pirelli World Challenge at http://world-challenge.com/streamvideo/ with live timing at www.TSL-Timing.com.

The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season has witnessed some close, highly competitive racing across all the classes and the Grand Prix of Sonoma will be no exception. If you enjoy GT racing at its best, you won’t want to miss it.