With the championship out of reach, CRP Racing and Daniel Morad have parted ways for the remainder of the Pirelli World Challenge GT season. Michael Cooper will take over the primary driving duties of the No. 2 DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the final two races, with Matthew Brabham joining for the SprintX races this weekend at Utah Motorsports Campus.
Morad was the SprintX partner for Ryan Dalziel last season as CRP introduced the Mercedes, then assumed the full-time driver role for 2018. Morad had a couple of thirds in St. Pete, a win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and a second with Fabian Schiller in SprintX at Circuit of the Americas, but the season otherwise had been filled with struggles, such as electrical issues while contending at Long Beach and a big crash in the last round at Portland International Raceway. With no championship hopes for this season, Morad instead chose to pursue opportunities in Europe, he told his Facebook followers.
“With a little bit more luck, we could have been in the running for the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge Championship,” Morad posted. “With the current standings in consideration, and the conflict in timing, I have chosen to concentrate on the new year and the opportunities ahead of me.” Morad also thanked team principal Nicholas Short and the CRP crew.
Cooper, who has championships in Touring Car and GTS, will take over for Utah and the finale at Watkins Glen International. Brabham, who drove the car with Morad at Portland, will be Cooper’s partner at Utah.
“CRP Racing has become a staple of the PWC grid and I’m excited to join them for the remaining rounds of the 2018 championship,” said Cooper “Nick Short and the team gave me an opportunity to race in the GT class five years ago, which was a first and the spark for my GT career. I can’t thank them enough for bringing me back to GT. I’m looking forward to representing DeVilbiss and experiencing the speed of the Mercedes GT3 car while doing so.”
Cooper had his first opportunity to race in GT in a CRP Audi at Mid-Ohio in 2013. That event garnered him attention from many PWC teams and eventually led to his ride with Cadillac Racing, where he won numerous races in 2016-’17 and the 2017 SprintX Championship with Jordan Taylor. He was named a driver for Callaway Corvette for the 2018 season, but the team ended up running only one car for Daniel Kielwitz, and only for two events, leaving Cooper on the GT sidelines. He has been driving with Tony Gaples in the Black Dog Speed Shop Camaro GT4.R in GTS-X races in 2018 and most recently raced the RealTime Racing Honda Civic TCR at Portland.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome both Michael Cooper and Matthew Brabham back to the team,” said Short. “The team at our North Carolina shop has been working hard to prepare the car for this weekend’s race, and I’m looking forward to what this pair will be able to do on track.”
Paired with Morad, Brabham finished fourth in the first race at Portland, but didn’t have the opportunity to get in the car for the second race due to heavy contact early in the race with Morad at the wheel. For Australian Brabham, who has raced open-wheelers, V8 Supercars and Stadium Super Trucks, it was his first experience in a GT3 car.
‘‘I’m very excited and grateful to be called up again by Nick Short and Devilbiss,” said Brabham. “It has been invaluable for me to be a part of the team, gaining experience and seat time in GT3 racing. I have learnt a lot being thrown in the deep end and have much more to learn. Utah is an awesome track and I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge and building on from the last race. I’m feeling more comfortable and more confident in the car and believe we can come away with a great result.”
This weekend’s races at Utah Motorsports Campus will be the finale for SprintX, which features two drivers in a 60-minute race. Both races will be broadcast live on PWC’s YouTube channel, with Saturday’s race beginning at 1:10 p.m. Mountain time and Sunday’s starting at 11:00 a.m. Mountain time.