Just two weeks after the most recent round of Pirelli World Challenge competition on the streets of Long Beach, Global Motorsports Group (GMG) and the entire series will head to the scenic VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) for the next round of “SprintX” competition. Arriving with the championship lead in the GTS category, the team will arrive with four cars in two different categories to bolster their efforts, with Alex Welch, James Sofronas, George Kurtz and Colin Braun sharing two GTS-category Audi R8 LMS GT4 entries respectively, Elias Sabo and Andy Lee joining in a McLaren 570S GT4, and finally Alec Udell will return with new teammate Corey Lewis in a top-tier GT category Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“VIR is one of the most scenic tracks we visit all year, and it’s great to have a full roster headed in,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “The quality of the GT4 field remains unparalleled, and we’re always excited to return with a GT3 entry as well. Resuming the SprintX championship allows us to re-visit our multi-driver combinations, which is a great way to develop our cars and push forward both our racing and tuning programs. Our last SprintX race at COTA was everything we could have asked for, winning the first race for Audi’s R8 LMS GT4 program in North America, and taking the championship lead in the process. With Alex Welch back behind the wheel with me in that car, there’s no reason to think we can’t continue that momentum. George Kurtz and everyone at CrowdStrike should also fair well at VIR, and with a driver of Colin Braun’s reputation the two should be as venerable as ever. Elias and Andy should be able to build on the momentum they closed with in Texas, and the McLaren should be strong at VIR, and finally it’s great to have Corey Lewis join Alec’s program in the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Long Beach was a mixed race for Alec and our partners at LOCI, but we showed we were the fastest Porsche and there’s no reason to think that can’t continue this weekend.”
Driving the No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club / 5.11 Tactical Audi R8 LMS GT4, James Sofronas and Alex Welch will return to action after a strong weekend at the most recent SprintX round in Texas. Debuting with a podium and taking a win during Race Two, the duo would earn the first-ever win for the Audi R8 LMS GT4 in the process, positioning them as the current point leaders in the category. Heading to the 3.27-mile VIRginia International Raceway, hopes are high that the momentum can continue.
For Alex Welch, a return to action is a welcome one.
“It was great to return to victory lane in Texas,” stated Welch. “The GT4 field is really competitive, so to have an opening weekend like we did was a really great feeling. I’m looking forward to returning with James, and really appreciative of the work that everyone at GMG put in, we’re focused on continuing our momentum. VIR is a really unique track, it’s one every driver looks forward to.”
In the No. 04 CrowdStrike Audi R8 LMS GT4, George Kurtz and Colin Braun will once again return to action. With Kurtz coming off a solo weekend at Long Beach, the return to multi-driver racing with the SprintX championship will see veteran driver Colin Braun share driving duties, a combination that should prove strong in the twisty confines of VIR. With Braun’s experience and impressive resume that includes multiple IMSA championships and some of the biggest wins in the sport, and Kurtz returning as the GTSA-category champion, the two should see strong results.
“After a fun weekend of racing on the streets of Long Beach, I’m ready to get back in the driver’s seat for the SprintX races in Virginia,” stated Kurtz. “VIR is a challenging track, but with the team at GMG Racing behind me and Colin Braun as my co-driver, I think we’ll be in good hands. We learned a lot in Austin and Long Beach, so it’s a matter of taking what we know and making the right adjustments for the next event.”
Braun has experience racing in Virginia and is ready for the next event at the track. “I am really looking forward to the VIR weekend with George and the GMG team,” he said. “VIR is one of my favorite tracks in the world, so anytime we race here it is a real treat! We had an up-and-down weekend at COTA with a lot of things to build on, so with this being our second SprintX race weekend of the year, I know we will have polished up a lot of our execution, and that will serve us up a better result. George has been working hard and we are learning more and more about the Audi each time we unload it, so I am very excited about the weekend!”
In the McLaren 570S GT4, Elias Sabo and Andy Lee will return after a challenging run in Texas. Making the move to the Pirelli World Challenge ranks as a product of GMG’s driver development program, Sabo arrives in VIR ready to take on the next adventure of his driving exploits. In Texas, the duo would close the weekend with a great move up through the field, and with the track configuration at VIR suiting the McLaren’s strengths, hopes are high that the duo can move their way up the ranks.
“I’m excited to take on VIR,” stated Sabo. “We learned a lot in Texas, and that should translate well to the next round. The field is so deep that it’s easy to get caught up in incidents, and we’re really focused on getting through the weekend cleanly. If we can survive the opening laps, we should be in for a great weekend. The guys at GMG have done a great job getting us prepared, and Andy is a great co-driver to develop with, I’m really thankful for the opportunity.”
Finally, in the LOCI / HKG Porsche 911 GT3 R, Alec Udell will be joined by Corey Lewis in the top-tier GT3 category. With the program debuting in Texas and continuing in to Long Beach with a solo-run by Udell, a number of positives have been shown by the program. Most notably, Alec would take top qualifying honors among Porsche runners in Long Beach, running a promising series of opening laps. The addition of Corey Lewis should prove strong at VIR, with the Pennsylvania native enjoying a dominant run in the most recent IMSA round at VIR, taking victory in the similar-spec GTD category.
“We’re really hoping to put the pieces together for everyone at LOCI this weekend,” stated Udell. “Long Beach was a really promising weekend for us, and with a little different fortune we would have been in the fight for a podium. VIR is a completely different layout from Long Beach, so it’s tough to say how our car will fair, but we’re optimistic we’ll deliver. I’m excited to run with Corey, his experience at VIR has proven very strong, and hopefully that can translate to our event.”
Official practice begins this Friday, April 27, with another double-header of racing taking place on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s Race One will take place at 1:25PM ET, and Sunday’s Race Two at 11:30AM ET. Live streaming can be found world-challenge.com/streamvideo.