PWC adds Portland to 2018 schedule in July

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Pirelli World Challenge has added a race weekend at Portland International Raceway to its 2018 calendar, July 13-15, 2018 as part of the 58th Rose Cup Races. It marks the series’ return to Portland for the first time since 2005.

“The Pirelli World Challenge road racing series is one of North America’s premier racing series and we are very excited to have many of the world’s top sports cars and drivers return to Portland International Raceway,” said Gary Bockman, president, Friends of PIR. “The variety of PWC machinery that will come to PIR for the 58th Rose Cup Races will make for a great addition to the three amateur race groups forming a very attractive motorsports weekend in the Rose City. Our fans will enjoy the PWC action.”

But it’s what else this addition to the calendar means that’s probably worth noting.

It’ll be the GT, GTS and TC classes racing over that weekend, with two races apiece. The GT classes will be in the SprintX, two-driver, 60-minute format – and that race length as indicated by PWC is important to note because it means there aren’t plans to extend the 60-minute length to a longer distance in 2018, as has been discussed.

Second, it isn’t on the Verizon IndyCar Series weekend at Portland, which is on Labor Day weekend.

NBC Sports understands PWC is targeting that September weekend to fill its lone remaining TBD weekend at another established permanent road course.

Third, the Portland addition fills the lone July TBD slot, and means Pirelli World Challenge won’t be returning to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2018. It had been part of the weekend slate along with IndyCar at the end of July for several seasons.

Fourth, both this Portland date and the TBD September date would be apart from any IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekends, meaning drivers who have commitments in both championships could be free to race in both without missing any rounds.

The Portland July date falls in-between IMSA’s three race-in-four weekend stretch, after Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and before Lime Rock Park. And IMSA races only at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 9, so the Labor Day date falls before that weekend.

The updated PWC schedule is below.

2018 Pirelli World Challenge Schedule

Date, Track, City
March 9-11, Streets of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Fla.
March 24-26, Circuit Of The Americas (COTA), Austin, Tex,
April 13-15, Streets of Long Beach, Long Beach, Calif.
April 28-30, Virginia International Raceway, Alton, Va.
May 18-20, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ont., CAN
May 25-26, Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn.
June 22-24, Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
July 13-15, Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore.
August 10-12, Utah Motorsports Campus, Grantsville, Utah
September, TBA
October 19-21, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Salinas, Calif.
(With SRO International GT Challenge)

Meyer Shank Racing wins second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona to begin GTP era

Rolex 24 Meyer Shank
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Grand Touring Prototype era began just as the previous one ended as Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura captured its second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona with star Tom Blomqvist emphatically starting and finishing the race.

The No. 60 ARX-06 won the 24-hour endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway by 4.190 seconds over Filipe Albuquerque of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, giving Acura a sweep of the top two spots.

The Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh cars took the next two spots with Renger van der Zande (the No. 01) and Earl Bamber (No. 02) as four of the nine new GTP cars finished on the lead lap within 12 seconds of each other – quashing the prerace hand-wringing of mass failures for the highly technical cars in the debut of the hybrid prototype premier category.

There were major problems for the manufacturer newcomers Porsche Penske Motorsport and BMW M Team RLL, whose two pairs of cars all finished at least a dozen laps down or more because of major mechanical problems in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

But there were no such failures for Acura despite the manufacturer skipping any endurance testing with the new LMDh car.

It’s the third Rolex 24 at Daytona victory for co-owner Mike Shank, who won his first in 2012.

Just as he capped the 2022 season by winning the Petit Le Mans season finale in the No. 60 Acura to clinch the final championship of the DPi division for MSR, Blomqvist was behind the wheel again for his third overall victory in IMSA.

“That was crazy,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I knew we had a fantastic car. I’ve been working hard. Unbelievable. Massive, well done, everyone being part of this project and worked together on this project. What a car we’ve built.

“I was just a bit nervous. The 10 was definitely second fastest car, but we held them off.”

It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 victory for MSR’s trio of Blomqvist, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves, who were joined this year by Colin Braun (winning his first Rolex 24 overall).

Castroneves joined select company in winning the Rolex 24 in three consecutive years (his first win was with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021). Castroneves and Pagenaud are entering their second consecutive year as teammates for Meyer Shank Racing’s Dallara-Hondas in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“Can you believe that?” Castroneves told Lee. “Big props to everyone. Everyone did an amazing job. Everybody worked so hard together. We got it! Another one. I can’t believe it. This is absolutely a dream come true.”

The four-time Indy 500 winner led the team in his signature fence-climbing celebration afterward — just as he had when he finished MSR’s victory in last year’s Rolex 24 and when he won the 2021 Indy 500 for the team.

“It’s always fun to climb the fence with Helio,” said Pagenaud, who drove the second-to-last stint before Blomqvist closed it out: “The competition as amazing. It was tough out there. So much fun. Hope you had as much fun as we had. I’m going to savor this one.”

Winners in other classes were the No. 55 ORECA 07 of Proton Competition (which triumphed on a last-lap pass by James Allen on Ben Hanley), WeatherTech Racing’s No. 79 Mercedes in GTD Pro, Heart of Racing’s No. 27 Aston Martin in GTD and AWA’s No. 17 in LMP3.