Continuing an incredible 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season that has seen the team take victory at nearly every race weekend they’ve competed in, Global Motorsports Group (GMG) would walk away from this weekend’s events at the storied Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with an astonishing two-day tally of four victories and five podiums. Sweeping both the GTA and GTSA categories, drivers James Sofronas and George Kurtz would run undefeated during their respective races, meanwhile Alec Udell would also enjoy a tremendous run in the all-pro GT category with his first overall podium. GMG’s Preston Calvert would also show well, setting some of the fastest laps in his career.
“This was a huge weekend for the entire team,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “Starting with George Kurtz and our McLaren program, I couldn’t be more proud of what he’s done, and of course all of our guys in developing this car. Moving on to Alec Udell, his run today was proof of just where he has come in his career. To stand on the podium with such an amazing roster of pro’s, setting lap times faster than one of the best Porsche drivers in the world, is just unbelievable. Preston Calvert also showed great progress this weekend, and I was blown away that he set a lap that was a half-second off of the class leaders!”
Driving the No. 08 CrowdStrike McLaren 570S GT4, George Kurtz would enter this weekend following a strong wave of momentum at the most recent round at Road America. Following back-to-back wins, George would not only arrive as a favorite for the Ohio double-header, but also within reach of the GTSA category championship lead. During Saturday’s Race One, Kurtz would translate his third-place on the grid to a race victory, followed by an incredible drive on Sunday’s Race Two where he’d make a daring last-lap pass for a weekend sweep.
With three weekends of competition still to contend, the focus on Kurtz’s championship ambitions are now stronger than ever.
“This was a fantastic weekend for all of us,” stated Kurtz. “Two take four consecutive victories is a testament to the total team effort of everyone at GMG. We had a bad start when one of the SIN cars checked out and I almost hit Parker (Chase) so everybody got around us. Then throughout the race, Gaples was leading and he’s a great driver so we just put our heads down and just kept chipping away until the last lap. I managed to get around him, and it’s a great win for the team and a great weekend and we’re delighted with the results. It was a dogfight.”
In the No. 17 EuroWorld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Alec Udell would also enjoy a landmark weekend in the series’ top-tier GT class. While Saturday’s Race One would prove strong for the Texas native with an eighth-place finish, it was Sunday’s Race Two that would prove one of the strongest in his career. Starting from the fifth row, a combination of tremendous race craft and taking advantage of the right opportunities would position Alec in to an impressive third place as the race wore on, with Alec even setting the fastest lap of any Porsche in the field. While the GMG development graduate has earned a multitude of victories in a variety of classes throughout his Pirelli World Challenge career, Sunday’s race would prove his first-ever overall podium in the top ranked GT class. In addition, Alec would be awarded with both the “Hard Charger” and “Best Start” awards for his efforts.
“The GMG guys did an amazing job with our Euroworld Motorsports Porsche,” stated Udell. “That just left me to go out there and do all I could to make the most out of it. Sharing the podium with the guys who raced until the last half lap last year for the GT title, I think we can say we did that.”
Also in the venerable Porsche 911 GT3 R, Preston Calvert would return to the team for another weekend of sprint action in his No. 17 Calvert Dynamics machine. Having committed to the team for all of the endurance-oriented SprintX rounds, Calvert’s recent expansion in to sprint racing has proven fun for the series veteran. During Saturday’s race, consistency would prove critical as Calvert would take sixth-place honors, followed by his fastest lap of the weekend on Sunday where he’d find himself within a half-second of the top drivers, finishing eighth.
“There were many positives on the weekend,” stated Calvert. “It seemed like every session we found a little more speed, and by the end I was pulling lap times that I was very happy with. We had a little bad luck in the second race, but that’s just part of it and overall I think everyone put in a great effort.”
Finally, James Sofronas would continue his incredible 2017 sprint season with two more victories to his tally. With fellow Porsche competitor Michael Schein returning for the full weekend of action, Sofronas knew he’d be in for some stout competition, but a series of strong race starts would position the series veteran well. On Race One, James would make an incredible start to get ahead of Schein by time the first lap was over, and would spend the remainder of the race in a strong defensive position, keeping Schein behind for the entirety of his run. For Sunday’s Race Two, James would once again seize the moment when a car would falter in front of him, allowing him to once again make jump on the opening lap, and never looking back. Sofronas would actually enjoy an incredible battle with the GTA field, leading a four-car train that put a premium on not allowing for mistakes, which James performed flawlessly, taking his fifth straight victory in the sprint championship.
“Of course personally I couldn’t be happier with taking two wins for myself and the No. 14 team,” continued Sofronas. “I have to give credit to Mike Schein for racing me hard, but racing me clean, and that made this weekend fun. This was a huge step in our goal for the No. 14 winning the Sprint series’ GTA championship, but we still have two races to go.”
While the Pirelli World Challenge will see three more event weekends in the 2017 season, only one more race at Sonoma Raceway will count toward the traditional “sprint” championship. Next up, the series will return to the newer, endurance-oriented “SprintX” championship at the Utah Motorsport Campus, taking place in two weeks’ time.