The 2020 season for the GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS series is set to open at Circuit of The Americas next weekend, March 6-8. Some of the globe’s top GT3 sports car racers will begin their quest for this year’s championships at the 3.431-mile road course.
The Racers Edge Motorsports team of Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli begin their Pro/Am title defense behind the wheel of the No. 80 Acura NSX GT3. In 2019, the Canadian driver duo earned two overall pole positions and three race wins, including a victory in last year’s Sunday feature race at COTA. All told, Barkey and Marcelli finished on the podium nine times in 14 races last year and they will need to duplicate those results if they hope to repeat as champions.
A two-car team that will surely have a say in the outcome of the 2020 championships is the DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 squad, which returns with the aim of improving on respectable 2019 results. David Askew and Ryan Dalziel will again partner behind the wheel of the No. 63 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Askew finished sixth in the driver standings last year – impressive given Askew began his pro racing career at the age of 50. The Salt Lake City-based driver is an accomplished offshore sailboat racer so the push to cross the line first is in his blood.
Co-driver Dalziel, one of Scotland’s leading pro racers with numerous wins and championships on his resume, will look to rebound from a challenging 2019. The team’s No. 04 Mercedes-AMG GT3 will have returnees George Kurtz and Colin Braun sharing duties. Kurtz, CEO and co-founder of CrowdStrike, has combined his success in business with a passion for racing and finished just ahead of Askew in fifth last season. Braun, like Dalziel, is a championship-winning pro driver and has competed at the top levels in sports car racing.
GMG Racing enters its No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R (991) in the Pro/Am category for team principal and series veteran James Sofronas and topflight Dutch racer Jeroen Bleekemolen. Sofronas has over 200 starts in SRO Motorsports America competition, while Bleekemolen has an extensive international racing resume and is a former 24-hour of Le Mans winner.
K-PAX Racing will have its No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3 on the grid for the Pro/Am team of accomplished pro Guy Cosmo and rising star Patrick Byrne. The Sonoma-based team with a well-established championship pedigree, will look to add to their impressive series record of 59 wins, four championships and 148 podiums.
Ferrari won the manufacturers’ championship in 2019 and there are three teams that will represent the prancing horses in Pro/Am competition at COTA. Last year’s Am driver’s champion, Mexico’s Martin Fuentes, moves up into the Pro/Am class and will co-drive with rising star Rodrigo Baptista in the Squadra Corse No. 1 Ferrari 488 GT3. Baptista, from Brazil, won two races in the Pro division last year with K-PAX and now alongside Fuentes the duo will be formidable in the efforts to help Ferrari repeat in 2020.
TR3 Racing brings its No. 31 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Ziad Ghondour and Matteo Cressoni. Italian Cressoni has extensive experience having competed in several European series including the FIA GT Championship, Euroseries 3000, Superstars Series, International GT Open and Formula Renault V6 Eurocup. Ghondour moves over from Ferrari Challenge North America where in 2019 he finished second in the driver’s championship with four wins and eight top three finishes. Vital Speed enters their No. 7 Ferrari 488 GT3 for up-and-coming driver Trevor Baek and experienced racer Jeff Westphal.
A new team entering GT World Challenge America competition for 2020 is Winward Racing. The team’s No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be piloted by the father and son team of Russell and Bryce Ward. Representing BMW is the Stephen Cameron Racing driver duo of Henry Schmitt and Greg Liefooghe. They finished eighth in the Pro/Am championship last year and will again be behind the wheel of the team’s No. 87 BMW F13 M6 GT3.
Racers Edge will also have a second NSX on the grid at COTA with Trent Hindman and Shelby Blackstock sharing driving duties. Hindman is a championship-winning sports car driver who has a wealth of experience racing the NSX, while Blackstock has a significant open-wheel and sports car racing resume. The duo will drive the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 in the Silver category.
With Fuentes moving up into the Pro/Am category, a new champion will be crowned in the Am class this season. Vital Speed will enter its No. 6 Ferrari 488 GT3 for pilots Richard Baek and Mark Issa. Wright Motorsports brings its No. 20 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Fred Poordad and Max Root, while Park Place Motorsports enters the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R (991) for David Decote and Alan Metni.
Following the opening rounds at COTA, a number of teams are set to join competition for upcoming races Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and VIR.
On-track action at COTA begins Friday, March 6 at 10:25 a.m. Central for the first GT World Challenge practice of the season. Round 1’s 90-minute contest is scheduled to go green at 1:35 p.m. Central on Saturday, March 7, while Round 2 is scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. Central on Sunday March 8. Both races and qualifying will be streamed live on gt-world-challenge-america.com, with Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests scheduled for broadcast on March 8 on CBS Sports.