Since its founding as a car company in 1948, Porsche has raced to prove and improve its road cars. In that time, the brand has become synonymous with sports car endurance racing but in recent years, the German marque has also built a reputation as an ideal one-make series for sprint racing. Beginning first with the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup series in 1993, Porsche has been the choice of the FIA to support its Formula One World Championship (F1) around the globe and by thousands of drivers looking to make the next step in their career.
For the inaugural United States Grand Prix (USGP) today in Austin, Texas, Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West was selected to shore up the weekend schedule of the most popular form of motorsport in the world. The Porsche club series brought 30 911 GT3 Cup entries to the new 3.4-mile, 20-turn Circuit of the Americas (COTA) as one of three support races for F1, November 16-18.
Porsche is the Largest Manufacturer of Production Based Race Cars
With the 911 GT3 Cup car, Porsche has become the world’s largest builder of production-based race cars. Sharing the chassis with the Porsche 911 GT3 RS road car, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car is the entry for one-make series on every continent. The Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy runs predominately in the western United States with cars fielded by some of the biggest names in North American sports car racing. JDX Racing, Park Place/Horton Autosport, NGT and even 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning TRG entered cars in the field. The presence of these names shows the serious nature in which these race weekends are held and the link throughout Porsche’s racing ladder system.
Jens Walther, president and CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) was exciting by the weekend’s activities. “The weekend was really impressive. Continuing the relationship we have had with Formula One for more than 20 years now, being a support race to a Formula One grand prix is always something special. The warm welcome we have seen from the fans and everyone in the city of Austin was overwhelming. We are very happy that Greg Franz and the organization of the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy took the initiative to organize the event and invite all the drivers in the US. I am very happy with the outcome and having a clean race is always good,” said Walther, whose career includes a stint as head of the world-wide Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup series.
Entries for the Pirelli GT3 Cup are broken into two categories based on the iteration of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car used. The Platinum class is comprised of current type 997-based GT3 Cup cars ranging from model years 2010 to 2012. The Gold class encompasses cars within the models years of 2006 to 2009. All cars must run Pirelli P Zero Racing slicks and unmodified OEM parts as delivered to customers by Porsche Motorsport North America. Demonstrating its commitment to the sport and its feeder system, PMNA had a contingent of engineers and parts specialists on site for the weekend to support the customer team efforts.
Entering Sunday’s 10-lap race, the Platinum class driver championship was already sealed with the title going to Woodinville, Washington’s Jim Walsh driving for Red Dog Racing/Fordal Motorsports – prepared by Le Mans-winning crew chief Greg Fordahl. The Gold class was also a lock for Loren Beggs of Montclair, Calif. driving for 911 Design. 911 Design is a regular Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car entrant in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series GT class.
“We’re excited to be a participant at the return of F1 to the United States and the inaugural event of the Circuit of the Americas,” reflected Greg Franz, president, Pirelli Cup GT3 Cup Trophy USA West. “We’ve been able to carry the success of Porsche’s 20-year relationship with Formula 1 and we’re looking to establish that in the United States for Porsche Motorsport and to keep that heritage alive. Racing with Formula 1 allows people to understand what the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series is about, see that there is an opportunity for the post-club driver to go-ahead and really become competent race drivers. That’s what we’re looking to do with competitive seat time at major venues. I think this weekend has shown what we have been able to accomplish over the last couple of seasons.”
The Youngest Driver to Compete in any Series at the Event
At 16 years-old, Madison Snow, from Pleasant Valley, Utah, was the youngest driver competing in any of the series racing before the massive 100,000-plus strong crowd in Austin. However, neither the scope of the venue or the event fazed him as he set the quickest time in the opening practice session on Friday. With only 60-minutes of on-track time, half of which was qualifying, every second counted to learn the circuit and maximize the car’s setup for the race. As he has done since beginning his racing career in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, the Salt Lake City-area high schooler took to COTA like a champion further proving the vital nature of Porsche’s presence in the feeder levels of the sport as well as the professional ranks.
“The track is amazing,” enthused Snow. “It’s so smooth. There is not one corner that I hate. There are corners that are very technical, they take time to ‘get’, but I like that. It means a lot to just be able to race on the same weekend with F1, to be able to see the possible future. I don’t get too worked up or stressed out so I didn’t think about the magnitude of being out here with F1.”
Henrique Cisneros (Miami) earned the overall pole position for Sunday morning’s race leading the field of 30 to the green flag in an NGT-prepared Platinum class car. Scott Tucker (Leawood, Kan.) was quickest of the Gold class cars in Saturday’s 20-minute qualifier. The race ran the full 10-lap distance with close competition throughout. Ultimately, Snow pulled-away from the field to take the Platinum class victory by 3.5-seconds becoming the youngest driver on the top-step of the COTA podium this weekend. In Gold class, Beggs celebrated his season championship with a COTA victory in his 2006 GT3 Cup car.
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