The 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America and Pirelli GT4 America season opens at Circuit of the America on March 1 – 4. In a packed weekend of racing, the Blancpain GT World Challenge America will contest its first two rounds while the Pirelli GT4 America championship also competes twice at the 5.513 km / 3.427 mile Texan circuit.
23 GT3 cars are entered for the opening weekend of the 2019 Blancpain World Challenge America at COTA.
Porsche and its 911 GT3 R (991) will be represented by seven entries. Alegra Motorsports has two entries, one in the Pro category and one in the Pro-Am class. Team principal Michael De Quesada joins Daniel Morad in the all-Silver #22 entry while the sister 23 is piloted by Wolf Henzler and Marco Holzer in an all-Gold Pro entry.
“It’s going to be exciting to be a part of the new format,” said Team Manager Tony Ditto. “The team did well in the 2018 SprintX GT Championship Series last year, so we’re looking forward to carrying that momentum forward.
“The Porsche experience that these two guys (Henzler and Holzer) bring to the track is great. They know the machines and understand how to extract maximum performance from them, so that’s something we’ll definitely be tapping into this year.”
Batavia, Ohio-based Wright Motorsports is the second team to campaign a pair of 911 GT3 Rs. The team’s #58 entry will be piloted by Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and Scott Hargrove while the sister #91 car will be driven by the Pro-Am line-up of Anthony Imperato and Porsche Young Professional Driver Dennis Olsen.
Wright Motorsports Principal John Wright is excited about the challenges ahead.
“I am really looking forward to getting season underway!” said John Wright. “It has been a long winter and I am ready for some excitement! Both of our Porsche 911 GT3 Rs have stellar driver pairings and a great team behind them. Having the support of world class companies such as Porsche Consulting, Henry Repeating Arms and Porsche Motorsport North America says that we are here to win races! As a team. We’ve already proven that we’re capable of competing for this championship, so we’re eager to come back strong with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R.”
K2R Motorsports will campaign the #38 Porsche, to be driven by the Pro-Am pairing of Kevan Millstein and Alex Barron while GMG Racing will field the Am pairing of GMG President James Sofronas and Brent Holden in the #14 entry.
To complete the Porsche entries, Autometrics Motorsports will campaign the #991 Am entry, driven by Joe Toussaint and Alan Metni.
Ferrari match Porsche with the number of entries representing the manufacturer. Seven F488 GT3s will be on the grid at COTA. 2018 champions Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander return for the new season in the #61 F. Ferri Motorsports entry whilst One11 Competition also fields two entries – one in the Pro/Am class and one in the Am category. The New York-based team sees Matt Plumb and Alfred Caiola share the driving duties in the #99 Pro/Am entry with Christopher Cagnazzi and Brian Kaminskey piloting the #19 Am entry.
Houston-based Risi Competizione has entered the #82 Am entry with Pierre Mulacek and Anthony Lazzaro sharing the driving duties whilst Jeff Segal and Wei Lu will pilot the #31 TR3 Racing Pro/Am entry.
Squadra Corsa Garage Italia and Vital Speed Motorsports complete the Ferrari entries with Martin Fuentes and Ceasar Bacarella partnering in the #7 Squadra Corsa Garage Italia Am entry and the Am partnership of Rich Baek and Trevor Baek piloting the #8 Vital Speed Motorsports Ferrari.
Mercedes-AMG will be represented by four Mercedes-AMG GT3s, all competing in the Pro/Am class, on the Blancpain GT World Challenge grid. DXDT Racing has entered a pair of Mercedes-AMGs with the #63 to be driven by team owner David Askew and Ryan Dalziel while the #04 will be piloted by new DXDT teammates George Kurtz and Colin Braun.
The US RaceTronics #6 entry is driven by Richard Antinucci and 15-year old Steven Aghakhani. The team, from Buttonwillow, California, has moved up from Lamborghini Super Trofeo and team owner Shane Seneviratne, speaking in November 2018, is excited at the opportunity to race in the GT3 category.
“We’ve been running Lamborghini Super Trofeo exclusively for the past several years but I’m excited at the new opportunity that has opened up for Steven and the team,” said Seneviratne. “We had great success at the Pirelli World Challenge California 8 Hours (in 2018) and I think it’s a good fit for Steven. He’s got so much talent at such a young age and I’m looking forward to helping him continue to develop into the world-class racer I know he can be. This will definitely be a challenge for the team, but one that we’re all looking forward to.”
P1 Motorsports has JC Perez and Maxi Buhk complete the Mercedes entries, driving the #71 P1 Motorsports entry.
Two Acura NSXs, both in the Pro/Am class, will represent Acura. The Gradient Racing #5 Acura sees the driving partnership of Ryan Eversley and Till Bechtolsheimer while Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli share the driving duties in the #80 Racers Edge Motorsports entry.
K-PAX Racing has entered two second-generation Bentley Continental GT3s, both in the Pro category. Winners at CoTA in 2018, Rodrigo Baptista and Maxime Soulet, return in the #3 Bentley while Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek will drive the sister #9 entry.
Program Manager Darren Law can’t wait for the new season to open.
“We are very excited to get the 2019 season underway,” said Darren Law. “Consistency in a program is important and we have all of our current crew returning. We are continuing and growing our relationship with Bentley Motorsport and it is always nice to start the new year with a proven line-up. Although the series has changed the racing format, we look forward to the new challenge and feel this will be a step forward for everyone involved.”
Finally, but by no means least, Stephen Cameron will be campaigning its #87 BMW M6 GT3 to be driven by Henry Schmitt and Greg Liefooghe in a Pro/Am pairing.
Track action for the Blancpain GT World Challenge America gets underway at 11:10 local time (17:10 UK time) on Friday March 1 with a 30-minute practice session for Bronze drivers. Qualifying starts at 10:20 local (16:20 UK) on Saturday March 2 with the first of the weekend’s two 90-minute races starting at 15:50 (21:50 UK) later that afternoon.
Blancpain GT World Challenge offers the best some of the best GT3 racing in the world and the opening weekend of the 2019 season is one that should not be missed.