PWC: Entries, liveries, testing recap ahead of St. Petersburg

Photos: RealTime Acura (Nos. 43 and 93), PWC (Nos. 2 and 61)
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Lots of Pirelli World Challenge news has come down in the last couple weeks, and rather than break it off into a number of posts, we’ve combined it into one post, below.

The preliminary entry list for the St. Petersburg season opener is out. A total of 43 cars split between the series’ four classes (GT, GTA, GT Cup, GTS) are listed and that number breaks into a 24-19 split between combined cars for the GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS separate races.

The GT field features a bevy of potential stars including the series’ champions dating to 2011. Defending champion Alvaro Parente returns with his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, Johnny O’Connell looks to get back in top in his No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R after four straight titles from 2012 to 2015 while Patrick Long now is set for a full season in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, following a midseason switch from EFFORT Racing last year.

TBAs come from Magnus Racing and Bentley Team Absolute, and we expect those names to be released soon.

The livery is out for the pair of RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3s, with “Squircles” continuing over from the previous generation TLX-GT. Ryan Eversley’s No. 43 Acura will feature a white nose bleeding into blue, with orange trim and mirrors, while Peter Kox’s No. 93 Acura features the reverse livery. Acura Executive Creative Director Dave Marek developed both this livery and the corresponding one for the Michael Shank Racing Acuras in IMSA.

R. Ferri Motorsport returns after a year’s hiatus with Spaniard Alex Riberas in the team’s No. 61 Ferrari 488 GT3. The former Porsche Junior has shifted to racing Ferraris and has knowledge at most, if not all, PWC tracks from his most recent season in IMSA with The Heart of Racing. R. Ferri nearly won the 2015 GT championship with Olivier Beretta, before the controversial Monegasque driver retired with crash damage in the season finale.

James Davison will make at least a one-race return to TRG for the season opener in the Kevin Buckler-led team’s venerable No. 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. The talented Australian driver ran with TRG in IMSA for a couple years and was a regular polesitter, and he’s won races in PWC with the Always Evolving Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 entry as well. Nissan will be absent from the St. Petersburg season opener but is expected to return with a new single GT-R by Long Beach, driver TBD with Nissan’s factory support withdrawn.

Alec Udell has a big year ahead with two teams in the PWC GTA class. Santa Ana, California’s GMG Racing will enter Udell in the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R for 50-minute sprint races of North America’s premier sprint format GT race series.  In addition to the five-race weekends – 10 events – that comprise the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge “Sprint” season, Udell will also participate in the five-weekend, 10-race, SprintX Championship – Pro-Am class – as well. The 15-time PWC race winner will join GTA veteran and two-time 2015 SprintX race winner Preston Calvert (Potomac, Maryland) in the GMG-prepared Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R.

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Two former teammates at Tequila Patron ESM in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Ryan Dalziel and Jon Fogarty, have been busy testing their new cars for the PWC season. Dalziel returns after a year’s hiatus when he nearly won the 2015 title driving an EFFORT Porsche and will be in CRP Racing’s No. 2 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Fogarty’s No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing entry is now a Porsche 911 GT3 R, following an offseason switch from the McLaren 650S GT3.

Dalziel has a bit to prove this season, having been well-poised to score the 2015 GT title (and still winning an award from Porsche at year’s end anyway at its Night of Champions event) except for having to miss a few races due to conflicts. Nick Short’s team nearly won the title themselves with Mike Skeen and the previous generation Audi R8 LMS ultra in 2014.

“I’ll be honest, I want to prove that I could have won the GT title back in 2015,” Dalziel said. “But that was my issue that I missed the three races. I had other racing commitments. That is not the case in 2017. I want to run for the GT title. The GT division is very tough and highly-competitive. Just look at the season finishes the last two years. The point championship came down to the final race

“The Porsche 911 drove a lot more like a prototype sports car similar to what I drive in the other series (WEC and IMSA). The front-engine Mercedes is a very good car, but I have had to change my driving a bit. The Mercedes is similar to the Dodge Viper I drove previously as well as the Chevrolet Corvette. It has big power and rear-wheel drive. And it’s fun to drive. It just takes a little time to get adjusted.”

Fogarty and the team’s transition to Porsche from McLaren has been aided by Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler, who attended the team’s first major test at NOLA Motorsports Park in February. The NOLA test followed an initial shakedown run the team had at Willow Springs International Raceway prior to that after taking delivery of the chassis and just in the last week or so, the team finished up testing at Sebring International Raceway.

“It was great to work with Wolf and study his approach and driving lines with this car. He’s got as much experience as anyone driving these cars. His tips and pointers were very helpful, so it was a great opportunity for us,” Fogarty said.

Engineer John Ward echoed Fogarty’s comments, “The Porsche is new for all of us, there are always a lot of unknowns in terms of set-up and what works and what doesn’t. It can take a lot of track time to establish a baseline, so it was a good idea to have Wolf join us for the first big test.”

The new Panoz Avezzano GT, featuring an Andy Blackmore Design livery and a number of holdovers from the DeltaWing Racing crew, has broken cover with testing at Road Atlanta ahead of its planned debut at St. Petersburg in the PWC GTS class. Although the car is not yet GT4 homologated it will run under GTS homologation to start for the team owned by Dr. Don Panoz, led by Tom Milner and driven by Ian James.

Also in the GTS department, Ricardo Juncos told RACER he plans to enter Maserati GranTurismo MCs in GTS this year, although an official start date hasn’t been determined. Juncos Racing is in the midst of preparing for its full-season two-car entry in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series and for its step up to the Verizon IndyCar Series with at least one and quite likely two cars in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Also in the GTS department, James Sofronas’ GMG Racing has announced a partnership with CrowdStrike and will run a McLaren 570S GT4 for driver George Kurtz. Kurtz gained some PWC experience last year with TRG in an Aston Martin Vantage.

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Nate Stacy, one of two talented teens who took PWC GTS by storm in 2016 (the other was Parker Chase) will race one of Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche Cayman GT4 MRs in 2017. He recaps his trip to Germany for training at Porsche Fitness Camp here.

PWC has also released its 2017 TV schedule, which includes four same-day GT telecasts on CBS Sports Network and full season showings for all its classes throughout the year.

The season opens in St. Petersburg next week, with first practice a week from tomorrow. We’ll have one more check-in before then.

Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.


Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX