Pirelli GT4 America Sprint set for kickoff in St. Petersburg

Pirelli GT4 America Sprint set for kickoff in St. Petersburg

Blancpain GT World Challenge

Pirelli GT4 America Sprint set for kickoff in St. Petersburg

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Following last weekend’s season opener for the SprintX, East and West series at Circuit of The Americas last weekend, Pirelli GT4 America Sprint competitors are set for their first races of the season on the streets of St. Petersburg.

While featuring a new name for 2019, GT4 America Sprint continues SRO Motorsports America’s legacy of 50-minute, single-driver races at some of the most spectacular venues across North America.

It kicks off this weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, around the 14-turn, 1.8 mile temporary street circuit that encompasses the downtown Albert Whitted Airport. GT4 America Sprint and TC America cars will again run alongside the NTT IndyCar Series at the event.

A total of 20 cars spread across two classes are entered for the Streets of St. Petersburg presented by CrowdStrike, in a field that features nine different GT4 manufacturers.

Seven drivers will fight for overall race honors in a rejuvenated Pro class field that includes some of the sport’s biggest stars.

Newly named McLaren factory driver Michael Cooper will line up in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren 570S GT4, with the former series champion and Tony Gaples-owned team making the switch to the British manufacturer for 2019.

PF Racing will have two of its Ford Mustang GT4s on the grid for James Pesek and Jade Buford, also in the team’s first start of the season.

Team Panoz Racing returns for a third consecutive year, with GT racing veteran Ian James seeking his first drivers’ title in the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT4. James scored a season-high six class wins in 2018 that helped propel Panoz to the GT4 manufacturers’ championship.

Spencer Pumpelly is another expected title contender, with the Georgian confirmed for a full-season run in the No. 66 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, marking a return to top-level sports car racing for the Kevin Buckler-owned operation.

Robinson Racing’s Gar Robinson (Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R) and Nicolai Elghanayan, of MarcoPolo Motorsports (KTM X-Bow GT4) round out the Pro class field this weekend.

A flurry of familiar faces to SRO America have returned for the St. Petersburg season opener in GT4 Am, including several top-placing cars from last weekend’s opening rounds of the GT4 SprintX season.

Alan Brynjolfsson, who teamed with Trent Hindman to win Race 2 at COTA, is entered in the No. 7 Park Place Motorsports Porsche, alongside the No. 21 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Michael Dinan, who nearly pulled off a podium finish in the same race.

Ian Lacy Racing, which ran a Ginetta G55 GT4 in Texas, will give their two new Mustang GT4s its first series outing, with 2018 GT4 SprintX Am champion Drew Staveley and Frank Gannett set to drive.

Preston Calvert, who teamed with Matt Keegan for class honors in the opening GT4 SprintX race of the season, is also entered this weekend in the No. 51 Panoz.

In addition to Cooper’s Pro entry, Blackdog will return to the GT4 Am ranks with Gaples behind the wheel of a second McLaren, while Andretti Autosport’s Jarett Andretti is set for his first GT4 race as a solo driver, aboard the No. 18 McLaren.

Longtime series competitor Mark Klenin will also enter an updated McLaren this season, run by his KPR squad.

GMG Racing, which swept the 2018 GT4 titles with team owner James Sofronas, is set for a season-long effort with Jason Bell at the wheel of the No. 2 Audi R8 LMS GT4. He’ll be joined this weekend by a second Audi for CJ Moses who makes his GT4 America debut as part of a four-race program this year.

Other GT4 Am entries for this weekend include Marko Radisic’s BMW M4 GT4, Shane Lewis of Robinson Racing and BGB Motorsports’ Thomas Collingwood, who will be at the wheel of a Porsche.

Practice kicks off on Friday, March 8, with a pair of 35-minute sessions, followed by qualifying on Saturday and the first of the two 50-minute races set for a 4:10 p.m. ET start. Race 2 is scheduled for Sunday at 11:25 a.m. ET.

Both races, as well as the qualifying session will be streamed live on World-Challenge.com, with CBS Sports Network set to air highlights at a date and time to be announced.

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