The Pirelli World Challenge sports car series returns to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 13 years this weekend (July 13-15) when the 58th edition of the Rose Cup Races make its annual appearance at Portland International Raceway.
All eight classes in North America’s top GT Production-based road racing campaign do battle at the historic 1.97-mile, 12-turn circuit in the Delta Park, north of downtown Portland. A big field of GT, GTS and Touring Car divisions will see doubleheader races on Saturday and Sunday in the Pirelli World Challenge presented by Honda Racing/HPD. The highly-competitive GT and GTS SprintX Rounds 7 and 8 will have the likes of Audi, Bentley, BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Ford, Ginetta, KTM, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Panoz, Porsche and SIN Car in the 60-minute, two-driver formats.
As the PWC season ends to a finale on Labor Day weekend at Watkins Glen International, the point championship has produced some spectacular duels including the GT overall title with Ferrari’s Toni Vilander and Porsche’s Scott Hargrove just two points apart (270-268) entering this weekend’s Portland event.
And veterans James Sofronas, Jade Buford and Lawson Aschenbach are 1-2-3 in the GTS Overall point run, while the TCR championship is a tight three-way contest with Ryan Eversley, Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis, all with two wins each in the first six races.
The eight divisions — GT/GTA/GT Cup SprintX, GTS/GTSA SprintX, TCR, TC and TCA – start action Friday morning at PIR road circuit with races set for Saturday and Sunday throughout the day in one of the brightest displays of production racing sports cars seen in North America as well as outstanding driving talent from around the world.
With the return of the Pirelli World Challenge returning to Portland International Raceway for the first time since 2005, several Oregon-based organizations worked extremely hard behind the scenes to assist in the 58th annual Rose Cup Races featuring the Pirelli World Challenge presented by Honda Racing/HPD. PWC would like to thank the Friends of PIR, City of Portland, SCCA Oregon Region and the Cascade Sports Car Club for their many hours of preparation for and participation in this weekend’s racing extravaganza.
All PWC races at Portland International Raceway will be shown in live streaming format on http://www.world-challenge.com
with each class then featured on the CBS Sports Network in a delayed basis.
Ferrari, Porsche, Bentley feature in PIR GT SprintX doubleheader
The return to PIR this weekend by the Pirelli World Challenge should be a shootout in the GT SprintX competition with Ferrari, Bentley and Mercedes-AMG in the Pro-Pro category as Finland’s Vilander, in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3, teams up with Spain’s Miguel Molina after scoring three GT SprintX wins thus far and holding the GT SprintX Pro-Pro point lead.
Canada’s Hargrove pairs with veteran Wolf Henzler of Germany in the popular No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol Porsche 911 GT3 R at PIR, as Hargrove is a Northwest crowd favorite from the Vancouver, B.C., area and looks to retake the GT Overall point lead. Hargrove is the point leader in the GT Sprint standings currently.
Third in the GT Overall standings and one to watch at PIR is recent 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Michael Christensen of Denmark in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3. Christensen has been on a roll in PWC action as well as with a GT SprintX win (with Spencer Pumpelly) at Lime Rock Park and an impressive GT Sprint win last month at famed Road America. Christensen has closed the point gap with the two leaders – Vilander and Hargrove – with his recent performances. Pumpelly, the veteran racer from Atlanta, returns to co-drive this weekend with the Dane.
After a tough early season, former GT series champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal has been back to his winning ways in the potent No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 after GT SprintX wins at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America. The personable veteran driver also scored second at Lime Rock Park with Andy Soucek of Spain. Watch for the Parente/Soucek duo to be a factor at PIR in their first appearance in the Northwest.
Their K-PAX teammates, Rodrigo Baptista of Brazil and Maxime Soulet of Belgium have been victorious this year in GT SprintX with a dominant win at Virginia International Raceway in the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 sports car. Look for them to be contenders at PIR.
Recent CTMP GT Sprint race winner Daniel Morad of Toronto, Ont. Canada, is fourth in the overall GT standings in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 and teams with Raffaele Marcinello of Switzerland this weekend. The Mercedes-AMG pairing could be a factor also.
Veteran GT racer Ryan Dalziel of Scotland and his teenaged driving partner Parker Chase of Texas have been a solid duo in the GT SprintX Pro-Am class with the current point leader in the No. 19 TruSpeed Audi R8 LMS. The mentor and student have won in the GT SprintX class, while Chase recently scored two GT Sprint events in the GTA division.
The No. 31 TR3 Racing/Ferrari of Vancouver Ferrari 488 GT3, a three-time 2017 GT SprintX winning car, competes in the Pro-Am class this weekend with drivers Jeff Segal of Miami, Fla., and Wei Lu of Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Segal took the overall pole at COTA in March and the pair trail Dalziel/Chase by just four points in the Pro-Am championship.
Long Beach GTA class winner, Yuki Harata of Japan, is a contender in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to VIR, with pro driver Alessandro Bressan of Italy as well as the duo of Guy Cosmo/Patrick Byrne in the No. 47 PPM Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and Larry DeGeorge/Cedric Sbirrazzuoli in the No. 45 DXDT Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
The 2016 GTA champion Martin Fuentes of Mexico City, Mex., a six-time Am-Am race winner, will be the leading contender in the Am-Am division this week as he co-drives with Caesar Bacarella of Miami, Fla., in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3. Challenging the Ferrari contingent will be the local father/son duo of Rich and Trevor Baek of Portland in the No. 87 Vital Speed Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 and David Askew of Utah in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Ryan Hardwick of Atlanta will compete in GT Cup SprintX in the No. 27 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracann Super Trofeo.
The GT SprintX field will compete this weekend with two 60-minute races on Saturday (July 14) at 1:10 p.m. PDT and Sunday (July 28) at 2:25 p.m. PDT in the GT Pro/Pro, Pro/Am and Am/Am categories as well as GT Cup.
Point leaders Sofronas/Welch lead PIR 36-car GTS field
A superb 36-car GTS SprintX field is entered for this weekend’s Portland International Raceway with the usual wild bumper-to-bumper, wheel-to-wheel, racing action on Saturday and Sunday.
Leading the field will be the two-time 2018 winning duo of GTS overall point leader James Sofronas teaming again with Am racer Alex Welch in the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS machine after an impressive set of 60-minute victories at COTA and VIR.
Another duo to look for is defending and three-time GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R as Aschenbach, a GTS four-time sprint race winner in 2018, co-drives with former PWC GT champion Andy Pilgrim. Lawson and Andy have six PWC series titles between them.
The second Blackdog Speed Shop team car features 2017 GT SprintX Pro-Pro champion and 2015 GTS titleholder Michael Cooper pairing with veteran Tony Gaples in the No. 11 Camaro GT4.R.
The 2018 GTS SprintX race-winning pair from PF Racing of Jade Buford, currently second in GTS Overall points, and Scott Maxwell, who won COTA with Buford in March, will be strong contenders this weekend in the No. 55 Ford Mustang GT4 as well as the No. 40 Ford Mustang GT4 of James Pesek and young star Patrick Gallagher.
Harry Gottsacker of Texas, age 18, ranks fifth in the GTS Overall points and could be a contender at Portland in the GTS SprintX 60-minute races with the No. 69 Racers Edge SIN R1 GT4.
Recent Road America GTS race winner Ian James couples with Matt Keegan in the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT in the challenger role this weekend in the Pro-Am division as well as the Classic BMW squad of Pro-Am entrants Justin Raphael/Steven McAleer in the No. 17 Raphael & Associates BMW M4 GT4. Raphael and McAleer finished second at COTA.
Other challengers this weekend will include the No. 13 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR with former SprintX race winner Kyle Marcelli and Orey Fidani, defending GTS Sprint champion George Kurtz and endurance racing star Colin Braun will co-drive the No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG Audi R8 LMS and Vinnie Allegretta and J.R. Pesek will challenge again in the No. 10 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 in the Pro-Am division.
Other top GTS SprintX lineups for the Portland doubleheader will include Gar Robinson and Shane Lewis in the No. 74 Robinson Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R; TCR point leader Ryan Eversley and Adam Merzon in the No. 23 Case-it Racing by Flying Lizard Audi R8 LMS and COTA GTS Am winner Al Carter and 2017 TC champion Paul Holton in the No. 78 Compass Racing McLaren 570S.
In the GTS Am category, Lime Rock Park GTS Overall race winner Drew Staveley of Utah has been a contender everywhere in his No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 GT4 machine and will be in the hunt again at Portland.
Another Classic BMW entry finds team leader Toby Grahovec, the former TC series champion, teaming with Chris Ohmacht in the No. 92 Fast Track Racing BMW M4 GT4 in the GTS Am category along with Oregon’s Derek DeBoer and Sean Gibbons in the No. 66 TRG Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR and Panoz driver Preston Calvert in the No. 51 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT.
More strong BMW combinations are expected to contend in the GTS Am division this weekend including the ST Racing squad with veteran Nick Wittmer and college student Samantha Tan in the No. 38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 and Harvard-bound Aurora Straus and Jon Miller in the No. 36 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4. Straus is currently tied for the lead of the GTS SprintX Am class after wins at COTA and VIR. Additional BMW M4 entries include Henry Schmitt and Greg Liefooghe in the No. 87 Stephan Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 and Daren Jorgensen and Brett Storm in the No. 113 Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4.
Single driver GT SprintX entries this weekend will include Jason Bell in the No. 2 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS, Randy Mueller in No. 3 Epic Motorsports BMW M4 GT4, Jeff Burton in the No. 19 Rearden Racing Audi R8 LMS; Moritz Franz in the No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR, Frank Gannett in the No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; Keith Jensen in the No. 32 Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR, Steve Burns in the No. 43 VP Racing Fuels/Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; veteran Mike Hedlund in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsport Audi R8 LMS; Mark Pavan in the No. 54 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1, Road America GTS Am winner Mark Klenin in the No. 62 KPR/Premiere Copier McLaren 570S and Lime Rock GTS overall race winner Nicolai Elghanayan in the No. 71 Marco Polo Motorsports KTM X-Bow.