Major talents will be coming from far and wide to compete in the opening round of the Pirelli GT4 America Championship and battle it out under the California sun at Sonoma Raceway next weekend. With top-tier drivers in 43 cars across all categories, the on-track action is bound to be thrilling all season long.
The drivers competing in the Silver, Pro-Am and Am classes will have two opportunities to claim wins and pick up some very important points to kick off the season during the GT Sonoma protected by CrowdStrike weekend. Race 1 kicks off on April 1 at 4:5pm PT with the second 60-minute contest held on April 2 at 10:55am PT.
The Silver class was defined by dominance in 2022, with RS1 wrapping up an astonishing near-perfect season with 11 wins. However, with the Silver champions moving up to Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, the competition is once again left wide open, with plenty of drivers having their eyes on the prize and ready to pounce. While the Silver class has never been one for predictability, the absence of the previous champions has elevated this sentiment to a whole new level.
Runner-up from last season Michai Stephens will be eager to get back into the title fight once again, this time alongside his new Canadian teammate Jesse Webb. They will be fielding the No. 34 Conquest Racing / JMF Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4. Conquest Racing was able to challenge for two wins and 10 podiums, building up a healthy gap to those behind, but the pairing’s priority this year will be to secure the top spot.
Only time will tell whether they can expand on their prior success, but one thing’s for sure, the rest of the teams will be working hard to rise to the occasion and go for glory. A pair of Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsports will take on the Silver class; the first being the No. 19 ACI Motorsports machine commanded by Andrew Davis and Francis Selldorff, and the No. 96 OGH/Valkyrie Velocity co-driven by Chris Walsh and Dominic Starkweather.
Toyota will be well represented by the No. 68 Smooge Racing Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra GT4 and the No. 74 COPELAND MOTORSPORTS. Kevin Conway and John Geesbreght will be sharing the Smooge Racing machine, while Tyler Maxson and Tyler Gonzalez will command the No. 74 challenger. Lastly, Random Vandals Racing brings the new BMW M4 GT4 with a talented line-up featuring Kenton Koch and Kevin Boehm.
Last year’s PRO-AM championship battle was one of the most competitive and exciting season-long battles, with numerous teams in the hunt for the top spot. The No. 47 NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport will be back in action in hopes of reclaiming the title, with its driver lineup to be announced at a later date.
Flying Lizard Motorsports was also in hot pursuit and is looking to pick up right where it left off, with the No. 8 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 being driven by Andy Lee and Elias Sabo once more. They were plagued by poor luck at the beginning of the 2022 season but gradually turned it around and consistently stood on the podium, in addition to securing a win during the season’s final round. If they can use that momentum to propel them into success straight away at Sonoma, they will certainly be ones to watch for the remainder of the year. Also in PRO-AM, Aston Martin brings Chouest Povoledo Racing, Archangel Motorsports, and van der Steur Racing to fight for the championship.
With the all-new BMW M4 GT4 ready to race, Rooster Hall Racing brings former TC champion Johan Schwartz paired with TC America front-runner Colin Garett. Keeping in theme with new cars, the McLaren Artura GT4 will make its American debut at the hands of Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen and Black Swan Racing.
Mercedes-AMG, Nissan and Toyota all feature one PRO-AM entry. Series newcomers Peter Atwater and Luca Mars will field the Mercedes-AMG GT4 for JTR Motorsports Engineering. Former Pirelli World Challenge standout Bryan Heitkotter debuts the all-new Nissan Z GT4 with Tyler Stone for TechSport Racing. With Skip Barber making the step-up to GT4 with Carter Fartuch and Matt Forbush in the GR Supra GT4.
The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS has four entries in the PRO-AM class. The Porsche ranked supreme in the 2022 championship but it’s the dawn of a new season and the Aston Martin Vantage AMR proved to be highly competitive on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Porsche welcomes returning and new teams to take on PRO-AM with ACI Motorsports, NOLASPORT, OGH/Valkyrie Velocity, and SP Motorsports all fielding entries this season.
Seven manufacturers in total take on the PRO-AM class alone in Pirelli GT4 America competition and each brings a nuanced title contention reason to track. With 17 teams in class, everyone will be waiting in anticipation to see who will emerge victorious and whether audiences and drivers alike can expect another nail-biting season ahead.
The AM class title will be under threat as the pairing of Charlie Postins and James Clay make their return to the track. The 2023 AM champions will attempt to defend their title with the No. 36 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4. The duo added seven wins to their tally last year, combined with another five podiums, totaling 262 points by the end of the season. Despite BimmerWorld’s display of dominance, the AM class gave viewers a lot of variety, with eight different winners over the course of 14 races.
The No. 18 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport was the car to beat last season in the Silver class, but it is still to be determined whether the team can challenge for the AM championship now that it features a brand-new driver lineup with the likes of Roland Krainz and Austin Krainz. The defining power of the Porsche could keep them atop of the charts but there are many contenders ready to sideline the father, son co-drivers.
A total of 20 entrants and 17 teams make up the AM class. Aston Martin features three entries – two for Heart of Racing with Gray Newell and Ian James in the No. 24 with Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt in the No. 25. They’re joined by TR3 Racing, returning with an Aston Martin for the new season.
Four entries have selected to run the 2022 championship-winning BMW M4 GT4 however with Auto Technic Racing, BimmerWorld, Random Vandals Racing, and STR38 Motorsports. With Mercedes-AMG fielding two entries via Conquest Racing and RENNtech Motorsports. Nissan’s second entry comes in the form of the AM class with Eric Powell and Colin Harrison moving up from the TC ranks to compete for TechSport Racing.
The Porsche718 Cayman GT4 RS is once again the best represented with eight entries in the AM Class. GMG Racing fields former GT4 America Champion James Sofronas with Kyle Washington. With ACI Motorsports, NOLASPORT, OGH/Valkyrie and Zotz Racing/CCDP Racing wielding the popular platform for 2023.
Two Toyota GR Supra GT4’s will be on the grid with Carrus Callas Raceteam and Smooge Racing.
As six manufacturers in total will vie for titles in 2023 it’s anyone’s game. Especially with multiple championship-winning teams running in the AM class, seven teams in total have won a championship with SRO Motorsports America within the last year.
The competition is tight, and spectators in attendance at Sonoma can rest assured that the season opener will treat them to a thrilling display of wheel-to-wheel action. When it comes to the Am field, it’s always best to expect the unexpected.