Heading in to this year’s Pirelli World Challenge season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, Global Motorsports Group (GMG) ended their weekend with a series of highlights for the three-car program. While driver development graduate Alec Udell would lead the headlines with a victory sweep in the series’ GTA category, team newcomer George Kurtz would also show strong with faultless runs in the team’s GTS entry, debuting the all-new McLaren 570S GT4, while team owner James Sofronas would continue his storied career with another podium drive.
“This was an incredible weekend for the whole team,” stated Sofronas. “To have both Alec and George run as strong as they did provides an incredible amount of satisfaction to both myself and the team, and I couldn’t be more proud of the collective effort from everyone here. Alec’s drive this weekend was nothing short of impressive. Not only did he win both races in the GTA class, but he showed well for moving up to the GT category. The driver roster in the ‘big class’ is possibly the strongest in series history, and he showed he could keep right with them. George Kurtz and the entire CrowdStrike program had an equally great debut weekend. He came in to a track he’d never been to, in a car we just received a few days ago, and drove it like a veteran. I’m especially proud of not only George, but the entire team for getting the car prepped and ready with very little time; we completed every lap without a single problem. Of course I’m always happy to personally get out on track as well, and it’s clear that the series has really grown with the quality of drivers and teams I’m fortunate enough to compete with.”
Driving the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Alec Udell would make his first start in the series’ traditional sprint category, entered in the GTA class. Competing against factory-provided drivers from some of the most storied teams in sportscar, the 21-year old showed immediate form, qualifying as the fastest GTA category driver for Saturdays’ Race One, and following that up with a strong start for the race. Completing a mistake-free run in the 50-minute event, the Woodlands, Texas native showed his mettle among the professionally categorized GT drivers, ultimately winning the GTA class and taking ninth overall ahead of multiple professional “GT” competitors.
For Sunday’s Race Two, the event would follow much of the same pace, with Alec proving flawless during a chaotic opening lap, gaining seven spots up to fourth overall in the process. As the race went on, Udell would mix with the top drivers in the category en route to setting the fourth-fastest lap of the race, finishing sixth overall, and once again taking the win in the GTA class.
With continued support from Texas-based Euroworld Motorsports, the only certified carbon repair facility in the country, the sprint debut for Udell was one for which his marketing partners are very proud.
“I’m extremely happy with our weekend, it was definitely an excellent result,” stated Udell. “Both Euroworld Motorsports and GMG have been tremendous in their support to get us here, and it all showed this weekend. We were able to run a limited amount of testing at The Thermal Club to get familiar with the car, but St. Petersburg is a whole different style of circuit, and one that hasn’t been too good to us in the past. I was really happy with our performance. The car was perfect all weekend, we didn’t have any mechanical missteps, and that sort of preparation is key as we move on to the rest of the year. The Porsche 911 GT3 R is a great car to drive, and we were able to prove just how competitive we could be, especially as we gain more experience. I’m excited to continue on to Long Beach, as it’s obviously GMG’s home race and there will be a lot of local support.”
For Euroworld Motorsports’ Frank Lee, Udell’s primary supporter, a similar sentiment is shared.
“We could not be happier with this weekend’s result. Alec performed even better than expected in the Euroworld Motorsports Porsche GT3R. GMG Racing continues to prove themselves the class of the field in their work and support of our car. The racing was close and intense and provided the level of excitement that makes the Pirelli World Challenge the best series in the country to race! We are very grateful for the support of our fans and clients that continue to make this program possible. 2017 is shaping up to be a very special season!”
Continuing a two-decade run in the Pirelli World Challenge, team owner James Sofronas would also enjoy a trouble-free run in the GTA category. Driving his No. 14 5.11 Tactical / Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club Porsche 911 GT3 R, the Villa Park, California resident furthered the team’s development of their machine, and continuing the reputation for transferring the same engineering discoveries from their race car on to their street car. Competing at the same circuit he took victory at in 2013, James had a fault-free Race One on Saturday, engaging in multiple battles with cars from Porsche, Bentley and Ferrari to take third in class, opening his season with a well-earned podium.
On Sunday’s Race Two, James would continue his efforts with another incident-free run, ultimately finishing fifth.
Competing in the series’ GTS category, George Kurtz made an impressive debut driving the CrowdStrike McLaren 570S GT4. While Kurtz’s driving was impressive in its own right, what made his story particularly strong was the limited time with which the whole organization had with their new car. Taking delivery of the new-for-2017 McLaren just days before the race, the team’s limited experience with the vehicle was completely unnoticed, experiencing zero technical challenges throughout the entirety of the weekend. With no testing and on a street course, George took to the program like a veteran, not putting one foot wrong and finishing 12th during Friday’s Race One, his sprint debut. Saturday’s Race Two would prove even more formidable, advancing several positions during his race to take eighth, and top McLaren honors in the process.
Running double-duty by virtue of entertaining several guests via his cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, the result was a remarkable one.
“I couldn’t be happier with our debut weekend,” stated Kurtz. “For the team to take delivery of the McLaren just days ago and have such a smooth initial outing was really impressive. Everything went incredibly smoothly, both in terms of the race as well as the terrific time CrowdStrike’s guests enjoyed over the course of the weekend. GMG has a great group of guys and the effort has already paid off for us – I’m very happy with a top-10 result in our first outing.”
With the Pirelli World Challenge season underway, the team will only have a few weeks to prepare for the next round of GT/GTA competition, with the home-event, the Grand Prix of Long Beach, taking place from April 7-9. As always, the team will feature an impressive display of both race and street cars, with an emphasis on welcoming the many local guests and fans of the brand.