World’s Most Exotic Sports Cars Featured in Premier U.S. Street Race
LONG BEACH, Calif. – The annual trek to the streets of Long Beach is always brought with enthusiasm for the Pirelli World Challenge GT and GTA teams and drivers and the 2017 “Roar by the Shore” is no different with the 43rd edition of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach set for April 7-9 in the PWC Grand Prix of Long Beach presented by Optima Batteries.
Featuring the fine line of precision driving between the concrete walls and aggressive all-out pursuit to win, the PWC competitors thrill the large contingent of racing fans each year over the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary road circuit around the Long Beach Arena and Convention Center complex with North America’s premier GT Production-based road racing campaign.
This weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge field is another outstanding list of sports car stars and their exotic machinery from Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, Cadillac, Mercedes, Audi, Bentley, Aston Martin and Acura, which features the all-new NSX GT3.
Superb GT field of drivers and cars should give fans thrills in 50-minute sprint race
The most important street race in the United States – the 43rd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – brings another stellar GT field this weekend with the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix presented by Optima Batteries and some of the world’s finest sports car drivers and their wild machines.
Leading the list of contenders for Sunday’s 50-minute sprint race will be the defending Long Beach winner and reigning PWC GT champion Alvaro Parente of Porto, Portugal in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S. Parente, a six-race winner in 2016, had never seen the tight Long Beach temporary course before his 2016 appearance but the personable factory McLaren racer left little doubt in qualifying with a track-record pole position speed.
In the 50-minute event, Parente led early before four-time PWC GT champion Johnny O’Connell took his red No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. to the front on lap 15. O’Connell took the checkered flag that day but lost the win in post-race tech inspection. It was Parente taking his first PWC GT victory when all was said and done. And O’Connell, the four-time Le Mans winner from Flowery Branch, Ga., was penalized to second.
Both drivers will return for another street fight this weekend along with the 2011 PWC GT champion and local star Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., in his No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Long and Parente won the opening GT races in 2017 in the streets of St. Petersburg last month.
Joining O’Connell, the 2014 Long Beach GT winner, on the Cadillac Racing team will be young Michael Cooper of Syosset, N.Y., in the blue No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R., who finished third in the 2016 GT points and scored two race wins.
A strong list of veteran contenders will be in the mix at Long Beach including Ryan Dalziel of Scotland and Bryan Sellers of Braselton, Ga., who’ll handle double duty in the PWC and IMSA events. Dalziel will pilot the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes AMG GT3 in Sunday’s feature, while Sellers will drive the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S.
Joining Dalziel and Sellers in the veteran lineup will be former sports car champion Jon Fogarty of Bend, Ore., in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Stallings Racing “Red Dragon” Porsche 911 GT3 R, Pierre Kaffer of Germany in the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi RS 8 LMS, Ryan Eversley of Atlanta, Ga., in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3, Peter Kox of the Netherlands in the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 and Daniel Mancinelli of Italy, St. Pete GT pole winner, in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3.
Another Ferrari challenger at Long Beach will be St. Pete Round 2 pole winner Alex Riberas of Spain in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3. Riberas was impressive in his PWC GT debut with third and fourth place finishes at St. Petersburg.
Young GT star Adderly Fong of Hong Kong brings the popular No. 88 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3 to Long Beach as Fong attempts to repeat his podium performances from 2016. Also entered in the Sunday PWC main event is the No. 11 Dime Racing entry with the driver and car to be name this week.
Alec Udell Moves Up to GT Category for Long Beach Pirelli World Challenge Weekend
Alec Udell, the 21-year-old Clemson University mechanical engineering student, captured the 2016 GT Cup title with 12 wins and moved to the GTA division at St. Petersburg last month. And The Woodlands, Tex., driver didn’t disappoint with two impressive pole positions and two class victories.
In fact, Udell recorded the fourth fastest lap time overall in the GT/GTA/GT Cup Round 2 event at St. Pete and ran in the Top 5 for the first half of the 50-minute sprint contest. Due to that sensational performance, it has been determined by the PWC stewards and PWC race director Dorsey Schroeder that Udell will compete in the GT division at this weekend’s Long Beach GT Round 3.
Udell drives for the local Southern California-based team of GMG Motorsports and will wheel the No. 17 GMG/Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Solid lineup of veterans and youngsters should have great races in 2017
A great contingent of veterans and youngsters will make up the GTA class this weekend at Long Beach including two-time Long Beach PWC winner James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., in the No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Sofronas captured PWC honors in the 2009 and 2013 Long Beach contests.
Michael Schein, a six-time 2016 winner, is expected to battle the GTA at Long Beach with the sister car to Long’s Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Schein drove the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche to two second place finishes at St. Petersburg.
Joining Sofronas and Schein in the veteran GTA listings for Long Beach will be Mike Hedlund of Redwood City, Calif., in the pretty No. 98 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S, Tim Pappas in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 and John Potter in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS.
Other young drivers entered in the GTA division at Long Beach include personable Jorge de la Torre of McAllen, Texas, in the No. 04 De la Torre Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3, local driver Yufeng Luo of Arcadia, Calif., in the No. 78 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3 and former Indy Lights racer Pablo Perez Companc of Buenos Aires, Argentina in the No. 69 Champ 1 Mercedes AMG GT3.
Streets of Long Beach, Calif: 14-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street course
Friday, April 7
3:30 — 4:30 p.m., GT-GTA Practice
Saturday, April 8
8:45 – 9:00 a.m., GT-GTA Practice
Saturday, April 8
9:10 – 9:25 a.m., GT-GTA Qualifying (Group 1)
9:30 – 9:45 a.m., GT-GTA Qualifying (Group 2)
50 minutes (GT/GTA)
Sunday, March 12
10:00 – 10:50 a.m. GT-GTA Race
All times listed above are Pacific Daylight Time
Television (on CBS Sports Network, Same-Day Coverage):
GT/GTA: April 9, 2:30 p.m. (EDT) 11:30 a.m. (PDT)