Following a strong kickoff to the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season with a pole position and podium at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Global Motorsports Group (GMG racing) will head to this weekend’s Grand Prix of Texas at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) with four cars ready to tackle the first “SprintX” round of the season. Now in its third year of existence, the one-hour, two-driver format of SprintX will see GMG participate with three GTS entries in the Pro-Am championship, as well as a new entry in to the top-tier pro ranks of GT. In GTS, George Kurtz and Colin Braun will join along with James Sofronas and Alex Welch in respective Audi R8 LMS GT4 machines, as well as Elias Sabo and Andy Lee in a McLaren 570S GT4. In GT, Alec Udell will return to Pirelli World Challenge GT competition with Porsche factory driver Matthieu Jaminet in a Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Entering the third year of SprintX, it’s exciting to see how the series has developed,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “The opportunity presented in this format allows a cost-effective way for everyone to get a taste of top tier endurance racing, and with the Audi and McLaren GT4 machines, plus our experience with the Porsche 911 GT3R, we’ll be in some of the most competitive vehicles out there. Bringing Colin in to join George in the No. 04 Audi should be one of the most competitive entries in the race, and the lineup of myself and my old friend Alex Welch should be an instant contender as well. It’s great to see Elias Sabo, who has been part of our development program for several years now, make the move to Pirelli World Challenge. Elias has proven a great student of the sport, and combined with the experience of Andy Lee they should be formidable. Of course the return of Alec and our Porsche GT3 program is extremely exciting, and with Matthieu Jaminet back in the fold, it should be a heck of a lineup.”
Starting in the No. 04 CrowdStrike Audi R8 LMS GT4, season-long driver George Kurtz will be joined by sportscar ace Colin Braun in the GTS Pro-Am category. Kurtz, the reigning 2017 GTSA series champion, had an impressive debut in the Audi just two weeks ago, taking pole position in class after showing tremendous speed throughout practice. Joining Kurtz, Colin Braun is one of the most proven drivers in all of sportscar racing, including multiple IMSA championships and victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring.
For Kurtz, the first SprintX round of the year offers a new start.
“We’re going to approach the upcoming SprintX races in Austin as a fresh start,” said Kurtz. “I had very good pace in the Audi in St. Petersburg, and we took away a few lessons from that race weekend that we can use in Texas. COTA is one of the most unique circuits on the schedule, and it will be fun for both the drivers and for our executive guests who will be enjoying CrowdStrike’s events over the weekend.”
Adding to the Audi contingent, the No. 14 The Thermal Club / 5.11 Tactical Audi R8 LMS GT4 will see two familiar faces in the form of James Sofronas and Alex Welch in GTS. Sofronas will embark on his second GTS race of the year after visiting the podium just two weeks ago, while Welch will be making his World Challenge return after several years away, although still active in a number of other motorsport categories.
In the No. 8 McLaren 570S GT4, Elias Sabo will arrive for the first SprintX round of his career. A product of GMG’s driver development system, Sabo has risen as a proven talent, including taking on the high banks of Daytona in addition to a number of grassroots events. Joining Sabo will be Pirelli World Challenge veteran Andy Lee, a multi-time winner of the GTS ranks, making him a perfect teammate to Sabo for the new challenge.
For Sabo, the next step in his motorsport endeavors is one he looks forward to.
“It’s great to elevate up to the Pirelli World Challenge,” stated Sabo. “The opportunity to work with GMG from a basic track day program all the way up to where we are now has been fantastic. The team has been great in getting me all of the information and data I need to prepare, and their knowledge base with the McLaren 570S GT4 should prove invaluable. Of course with Andy Lee, I couldn’t ask for a better coach and co-driver. Andy is not only fast but extremely insightful, and I’m excited to get the weekend going.”
As a late addition, the team will also enter a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the all-pro GT category, piloted by Alec Udell and Mathieu Jaminet. Driving the Loci / HKG machine, Udell re-joins GMG as a product of the team’s driver development program, winning the 2016 GT Cup championship, and being elevated to the pro ranks during the 2017 GT season. Jaminet, meanwhile, joins the team as part of the Porsche factory, having earned top qualifying honors at COTA in nearly every visit in previous seasons. A new sponsor for both driver and team, Loci joins as a new innovative platform designed to reform the inventing process through simplifying and making it efficient, thereby increasing the possibility of new inventions, innovations and inspiring the next big idea. The car will be made available for competition thanks to Carter Yeung and HKG, a new leader in the hybrid automotive market.
For Alec Udell, the opportunity to return to the top ranks is one he relishes.
“This weekend would not have been possible without the hard work from all my supporters,” stated Udell. “I have to especially thank David Haicjek, Jon Soto and Carlos Sanchez from M Performance in Houston, Nev Agass and Mike Zaric with GMGas well as Alan from Mystery Wraps. Their tireless work on the Loci Porsche to get it prepped in a seemingly impossible amount of time is extremely appreciated. Because of them we will be able to get Mathieu and myself out on the track for the first Sprint X weekend at my home circuit. I cannot express how thankful I am to have such a dedicated group of people from several organizations working together to accomplish this feat. As an automotive engineering and motorsports guy, John Wise created our new sponsor, Loci, with those exact principles. Loci allows engineers, developers and inventors of all types create and protect their ideas in a quick and cost-effective way, we’re thrilled to have them join.”
Official practice begins this Thursday, March 22, with race action taking place on Saturday and Sunday, March 24 at 2:20PM ET and March 25 at 11:15AM ET. Live streaming can be found at world-challenge.com/streamvideo.