DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2015) –The 2016 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama will feature 16 rounds on some of the most iconic road courses in North America.
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today unveiled seven of the eight venues that will host its 16-round schedule for the championship, one of the largest of Porsche’s 20 single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. Each venue will feature two 45-minute races.
Entering its 12th season in 2016, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama will run 14 of its 16 rounds during IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events. The additional venue to be announced will host a special, cornerstone event in June.
“The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama continued to display strong competitiveness and popularity this season, growth we are working to continue in 2016,” said Randy Hembrey, IMSA senior series manager, Development & Single-Make Series. “IMSA is committed to this vital level of racing for semi-professional and aspiring pro drivers and is thrilled to continue a successful partnerships with Porsche Motorsport North America and Yokohama.”
The series produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in the world’s most produced and iconic race car, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The IMSA-sanctioned championship is the perfect platform for drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the WeatherTech Championship.
Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2016 season get underway March 16-18 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, as part of the prestigious Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida race week.
The series will head west for Rounds 3 and 4 during the WeatherTech Championship event April 29-May 1 at picturesque Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, followed by Rounds 5 and 6, in June at the aforementioned to-be-announced venue.
A crucial summer stretch of six rounds on traditional event weekends starts with Rounds 7 and 8 on June 30-July 2 at historic Watkins Glen International during the Six Hours at The Glen endurance event in the scenic Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
Then the series heads to the classic Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for Rounds 9 and 10 on Aug. 5-7. Rounds 11 and 12 will take place Aug. 26-28 on the challenging circuit at VIRginia International Raceway in Danville, Virginia.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama teams and competitors will share the bright spotlight with the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship during Rounds 13 and 14 on Sept. 14-16 at the state-of-the-art Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Champions in all four classes will be crowned at Rounds 15 and 16 on Sept. 28-30 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. The final event of the season returns to its traditional spot alongside the Petit Le Mans endurance race for the WeatherTech Championship.
“The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama has become a tremendous development platform for drivers of all skill levels and teams and an important extension of the competitive spirit of Porsche,” said Jens Walther, president and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America. “Our long-term relationship with IMSA and partners such as Yokohama has elevated the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama into one of the marquee championships among the Porsche one-make Cup lineup of 20 Cups worldwide.”
Details about television and online video coverage of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama events will be announced soon.
“The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama continues as an important cornerstone of Yokohama’s motorsports program in North America,” Yokohama Tire Corporation Motorsports Manager Duane Sampson said. “We look forward to further development and growth of this partnership since becoming a marketing and technical partner for the 2009 season.”
Racing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is divided into two classes – Platinum Cup, featuring the 2014-16 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based on the seventh, and current, generation of the street car, and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous iteration (model years 2010-2013) of the race car. A Masters Championship also is conducted in the Platinum class. Each class is awarded with its own podium at the end of every race and individual champion at the end of every season. Points are awarded by finish in class.
All drivers in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama compete in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car based on the street version of the current Porsche 911. The 3.8-liter power unit featured in the 911 GT3 Cup car produces 460 horsepower and a maximum engine speed of 8,500 rpm. The 911 GT3 Cup also includes a Porsche six-speed sequential gearbox with a mechanical slip differential, with an electropneumatic paddle shift system creating faster, more efficient gear changes.
The engines and transmissions of all the cars in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama are prepared and sealed by Porsche Motorsports North America, creating a level playing field on which driving talent and team skill prevail.
Tight competition on great circuits in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama has launched many drivers and teams to success in higher levels of professional sports car racing over the last decade. Among those talented drivers are 2012 Platinum Cup champion Sean Johnston, a full-time competitor in 2013-14 in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, 2013 Platinum Cup champion Madison Snow, who has competed in the GT Daytona class in the WeatherTech Championship since 2014, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge standout Ashley Freiberg and 2015 WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona title contender Christina Nielsen.
March 16-18 Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida*
April 29-May 1 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, California*
TBA June TBA
June 30-July 2 Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York*
Aug. 5-7 Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin*
Aug. 26-28 VIRginia International Raceway, Danville, Virginia*
Sept. 14-16 Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas*
Sept. 28-30 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia*
TBA – To Be Announced
* — In conjunction with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events