No less than 36 cars are set to compete in the first of five Pirelli World Challenge SprintX weekends, this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway.
Breaking down those 36 cars, they’re split this way:
- 12 GT Pro/Pro
- 16 GT Pro/Am
- 1 GT Am/Am
- 1 GT Cup Pro/Am
- 1 GT Cup Am/Am
- 2 GTS Pro/Am
- 3 GTS Am/Am
And that’s before you get to the rest of the entry list: GTS: 9; GTSA: 10; TC: 32; TCA: 15; TCB: 8.
In sports car racing, the easiest way to get hooked is to embrace the variety and diversity of machinery first and ask questions about how complex it is later.
So with that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the GT SprintX entries (which themselves are split between three classes, but we’ll set that aside for a minute) and their respective lineups.
Cadillac Racing, Cadillac ATS-V.R
3 – Johnny O’Connell/Jordan or Ricky Taylor
8 – Michael Cooper/Jordan or Ricky Taylor
The fully professional Cadillac lineups give the Taylor brothers a chance to dip their feet back into Pirelli World Challenge competition alongside the team’s full-season drivers. That being said, it’ll be weird to see Jordan and Ricky racing against each other again, and Cadillac still hasn’t confirmed which brother goes where.
Magnus Racing, Audi R8 LMS
4 – Pierre Kaffer/Spencer Pumpelly (Kaffer misses Lime Rock)
44 – John Potter/Marco Seefried (Seefried misses Lime Rock)
For Magnus Racing, a return to the mini-endurance racing with pit stops could see the team with a slight advantage over those PWC-only teams in recent years. Kaffer and Pumpelly is as good a lineup as you’ll find on the grid while Potter and Seefried know each other’s nuances well.
K-PAX Racing, McLaren 650S GT3
6 – Bryan Sellers/Jonny Kane
9 – Alvaro Parente/Ben Barnicoat
98 – Mike Hedlund/Michael Lewis
With Strakka Racing coming to McLaren, Jonny Kane is the ace of reckoning added here with Sellers. Meanwhile Parente has the talented but inexperienced McLaren GT junior driver Barnicoat alongside; Hedlund and Lewis provide a very solid all-American duo.
GMG Racing, Porsche 911 GT3 R
14 – James Sofronas/Laurens Vanthoor (VIR and CTMP)
14 – James Sofronas/Matt Halliday (Lime Rock, Utah and COTA)
Calvert Dynamics, Porsche 911 GT3 R
77 – Alec Udell/Preston Calvert (partnership with GMG)
In simple terms, Sofronas’ team is one that should benefit from the SprintX format. Porsche places factory driver Vanthoor in when available while Halliday is a team veteran. Udell and Calvert will share a Calvert Dynamics entry prepared by GMG, which combines the two top teams from the series’ GT Cup class.
Wright Motorsports, Porsche 911 GT3 R
16 – Michael Schein/Jan Heylen
58 – Patrick Long/Joerg Bergmeister
Two solid lineups here for John Wright’s team. The iconic pairing of Long and Bergmeister is reunited in the team’s all-pro entry with Heylen and Schein one of the top pro/am entries.
RealTime Racing, Acura NSX GT3
43 – Ryan Eversley/Tom Dyer
93 – Peter Kox/Mark Wilkins
Wilkins and Dyer, the team’s SprintX additions, are underrated for a reason – they’re solid, quiet, capable drivers who aren’t flashy but usually get the job done. But they’re going to have to rise up against some of the other pros competing, especially when Acura’s four full-season drivers in IMSA aren’t added here.
Bentley Team Absolute, Bentley Continental GT3
78 – Yufeng Luo/Alexandre Imperatori (VIR and CTMP)
88 – Adderly Fong/Vincent Abril
Past Blancpain GT Series champion Abril is an excellent addition to this young lineup, and he and Fong will be the car to watch versus the pro/am No. 78 car.
CRP Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3
2 – Ryan Dalziel/Daniel Morad
“Razzle Dazzle” and “State of Moradness” combine for one of the coolest nickname and driver pairings on the grid. The Canadian should learn the Mercedes quickly and combined with the rapid Scot who’s based in Florida, this team should excel.
TR3 Racing, Ferrari 488 GT3
31 – Daniel Mancinell/Andrea Montermini
Mancinelli has raised more than a few eyebrows in his first two weekends in the series, but has the pace to star. Ferrari GT veteran Montermini is a nice counterbalance.
R. Ferri Motorsport, Ferrari 488 GT3
61 – Alex Riberas/Kyle Marcelli
Remo Ferri’s entry is one of the best ones out there, with two very talented drivers sharing the team’s Ferrari 488 in the SprintX races. Marcelli’s vastly experienced for his still tender age of 27; Riberas is a rising GT star in sports car racing.
Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari 458 GT3
7 – Martin Fuentes/Stefan Johansson
Giacomo Mattioli doesn’t usually enter something unless he thinks he can win, and this pro/am lineup of last year’s GTA champ (Fuentes) and Ferrari veteran and team sporting director Johansson, is one of the best in this category.
M1 GT Racing, Audi R8 LMS
23 – David Ostella/James Dayson
Pair of Mazda Road to Indy veterans-turned-sports car Canadians share a car that will be consistent if not the outright fastest among pro/am entries.
MOMO NGT Motorsport, Ferrari 458 GT3
30 – Henrique Cisneros/TBA
Cisneros usually assembles a good effort, and the identity of his co-driver will be interesting.
Black Swan Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3
54 – Tim Pappas/Jeroen Bleekemolen
The band has come back together for the past GTC champions of American Le Mans Series. Bleekemolen remains rapid as ever; he and Pappas have gelled well before.
DXDT Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3
63 – Aaron Povoledo/David Askew
Team’s strength comes from its 2016 SprintX experience, something many others don’t have.
Always Evolving Racing/AIM Autosport, Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3
75 – Ricardo Sanchez/Frankie Montecalvo
There’s a lot of newness for the AE/AIM/Nissan combo including a new driver lineup and new 2017 car. While it’s unfortunate past Nissan winners Bryan Heitkotter and James Davison aren’t here, young guns Sanchez and Montecalvo have potential in spades.
McCann Racing, Audi R8 LMS
82 – Mike Skeen/Michael McCann
This SprintX-only, pro/am entry could provide an avenue for “ginger stig” Skeen to live up to his lanky frame and produce some typical giant-killing performances.
MCC Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG GT3
92 – Alexandre Negrao/Alexandre Negrao Sr.
Little known here about this entry, other than it’s another Mercedes that features a past GP2 veteran in Negrao.
TRG, Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
007 – Kris Wilson/Drew Regitz
Wilson has been capable of winning races with TRG before but it’s hard to see this aging car and the lone am-am labeled driver lineup doing much of that here. That said, in the hands of James Davison, it does still have some speed left.
Dream Racing Competition, Lamborghini Huracán GT3
07 – Cedric Sbirrazzuoli/Lawrence DeGeorge
The pairing has driven together in Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and now PWC SprintX. Sbirrazzuoli’s got the speed here between this duo.
DIME Racing, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (First Alternate)
111 – Jonathan Summerton/Michael Macs
Past Atlantic series race winner Summerton leads this lineup, although whether he’ll get a chance to race depends on one of the primary entries having a pre-race issue that promotes the first alternate into the field.
REST OF THE FIELD
There are also seven additional entries for the first SprintX race of the season, with two GT Cup and five GTS entries. Those cars may interfere with the GT competitors but will have their own interesting race within the race, as well.