This weekend, the two major North American sports car championships will converge on the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit, sharing the schedule with IndyCar. Both the Tudor United Sports Car Championship and the SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge are well contested by Porsche teams, including the factory 911 RSR duo that have proven quite successful thus far in 2014.
Saturday’s United SportsCar race will be contested solely by the upper tier “Professional” categories, namely Prototype and GTLM. The Porsche-heavy GTD category has the weekend off, so Porsche will only be represented in the race by three cars; the two black-and-white factory entries, as well as the classically beautiful Falken Tire RSR. Any of the three have a pretty good chance of winning this weekend, so watch out for them near the front.
In the World Challenge race, scheduled to finish out the weekend on Sunday, there are three classes running on track at once; GT, GT-A, and GTS. Unlike the TUSCC race, Porsche is represented in all three of the World Challenge classes. In GT, we have Tim Bergmeister driving EFFORT Racing’s GT3 R. GT-A holds another EFFORT GT3 R entry for Michael Mills (Taggart Autosport normally field another GT-A GT3 R for team boss Jim Taggart, but will be missing the race this weekend.) In GTS, the GTSport Racing crew have teamed with GoldCrest to prepare a pair of Porsche Caymans for 2012’s Long Beach GTS winner, Jack Baldwin, and teammate Buz McCall. World Challenge is set to put on a sure-fire sprint-race show for the ages this weekend, so don’t miss it!
Porsche’s World Challenger
Every major Porsche racecar of the last 20 years has come to these shores save one, the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Derived from Porsche’s road-going 911 GT3, the 911 GT3 R has been the key player of the German marque in international GT3 class – a race series’ classification, not a car name – competition. However, no North American-based series has had regulations that allowed the full-racing version of the 911 GT3 to compete on the continent, until now. With a change in philosophy by the Pirelli World Challenge, for the first time in the car’s history, the Porsche 911 GT3 R now competes in the top GT category in the series which uses a shorter, sprint race format rather than the endurance race platform of the TUDOR Championship.
Porsche’s Long Beach Grand Prix Victories
2007 – Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas – Porsche RS Spyder – ALMS Overall/LMP2 win
2009 – Joerg Bergmeister/Patrick Long – Porsche 911 GT3 RSR – ALMS GT2 class
2009 – James Sofronas – Porsche 911 GT3 Cup – World Challenge GT class
2010 – Joerg Bergmeister/Patrick Long – Porsche 911 GT3 RSR – ALMS GT2 class
2012 – Jack Baldwin – Porsche Cayman – World Challenge GTS class
Jens Walther, President/CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America
“Long Beach has become a major event for sports car racing around the world. It is seen as North America’s Monaco which adds to the privilege of having our Porsche North America factory program competing here. That will add to our challenge but also provides an opportunity. Coming off an impressive debut at Sebring, Team Falken Tire joins the works effort with one of the strongest street race programs in the sport. In addition, we have the excitement of the Porsche 911 GT3 R making its west coast debut in the Pirelli World Challenge. After the initial qualified success at St. Pete to mark our return to World Challenge, we are looking forward to taking what we learned there and bringing it here to Long Beach.”
Michael Christensen, Factory Driver, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR
“After having pole and winning Sebring, and not to forget our strong performance at Daytona, I think the whole team has good confidence in ourselves, in our potential, and the motivation to push even harder everyday in preparation to be stronger at Long Beach.
Street courses are usually bumpy and slippery. However, I believe we can convert what we learned in Daytona and Sebring into a strong performance again in Long Beach. It’s going to be my first time there. With limited track time before the race, it’s important for me to use every second on the track in a constructive way. Learning the ideal line and the required techniques around the track, while bringing useful information to the team at the same time, is going to be a bit of a challenge for me.”
Stefan Pfieffer, Team Manager, EFFORT Racing Nos. 31 and 41 Porsche 911 GT3 R, Pirelli World Challenge
“The Porsche 911 GT3 R is a known value all over the world besides here in the U.S. One difference is the Pirelli tires we run here. The size and compound are new to the car. This is a challenge for us until we get our hands around it. Also the tracks here are usually a bit more bumpy than other tracks the car runs on outside North America which is an additional challenge for the team. Due to the position of the engine, the Porsche 911 is a car that suffers the most against out competition if it comes to bumpy track like a street course. Braking will be big item on the job list to get right at Long Beach.”
How To Watch
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 this Saturday, April 12th at 6 p.m. EDT/3 p.m. PDT. You can also listen live via the Motor Racing Network (MRN) radio broadcast, and live timing and scoring will be provided. A re-airing of the race highlights package will be available to stream from IMSA.com 24 hours after the checkered flag falls.
The Pirelli World Challenge will be broadcast live on World-ChallengeTV.com at 1:30 p.m. EDT/ 4:30 p.m. PDT on Sunday, April 13th. Live timing and scoring will also be provided. The race will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network the following Sunday, April 20th at 5:30 p.m. EDT/ 2:30 p.m. PDT, and will be re-aired on Friday, April 25th at 1 a.m. EDT.
Race Weekend Schedule. (All times shown in local PDT)
Friday, April 11, 2014
TUDOR Championship Practice Session 1 – All Classes – 7:40 – 9:40 a.m.
Pirelli World Challenge Practice Session 1 – All Classes – 4:00 – 4:45 p.m.
TUDOR Championship Practice Session 2 – All Classes – 5:05 – 5:35 p.m.
TUDOR Championship Qualifying – GT Le Mans Class – 5:45 – 6:00 p.m.
TUDOR Championship Qualifying – P Class – 6:05 – 6:20 p.m.
TUDOR Championship Post-Qualifying Press Conference – 6:45 p.m. – Media Interview Area
Saturday, April 12, 2014
TUDOR Championship Driver Autograph Session – 11:05 – 11:50 a.m. – Team Transporters
TUDOR Championship – Pre-Race Activities/Recon Laps – 2:40 – 3:10 p.m.
TUDOR Championship – Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach – 3:10 – 4:50 p.m. (100 minutes)
Pirelli World Challenge Qualifying – All Classes – 5:15 – 5:45 p.m.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Pirelli World Challenge Warm-Up – All Classes – 8:00 – 8:15 a.m.
Pirelli World Challenge Race – 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. (1 hour)
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship
GT Le Mans Class (3) Porsche 911 RSR
No. 911 Porsche North America Nick Tandy (UK)/Richard Lietz (Austria
No. 912 Porsche North America Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.)/Michael Christensen (Denmark)
No. 17 Team Falken Tire Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Ga.)
Pirelli World Challenge
GT – Porsche 911 GT3 R
No. 31 EFFORT Racing Tim Bergmeister (Germany)
GT-A – Porsche 911 GT3 R
No. 41 EFFORT Racing Michael Mills (Angleton, Texas)
GTS – Porsche Cayman
No. 72 GTSport Racing Buz McCall (Boca Raton, Fla.)
No. 73 GTSport Racing Jack Baldwin (Marietta, Ga.)
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