Continuing a strong 2017 that has featured podium finishes at every event weekend of the Pirelli World Challenge, Global Motorsports Group (GMG) would enjoy yet another podium result during this weekend’s festivities at the historic Lime Rock Park. James Sofronas and Matt Halliday would take a team-best finish of third, Preston Calvert and Alec Udell ran incident-free to seventh, while George Kurtz in the team’s GTS category entry would take a best finish of fourth.
“We really pushed hard for this one,” stated GMG team owner James Sofronas. “This series gets more competitive by the weekend, and to keep our podium streak going is the result of a lot of hard work from a lot of people. Beyond the podium, everyone continues to shine with every one of our programs. George Kurtz was impressive in the McLaren, we’re happy his weekend went smooth. Preston Calvert’s pace at Lime Rock was really strong, and Alec did another great job going against top guys and not putting a foot wrong. The teamwork by everyone in the organization continues to show, and as we hit the busy summer stretch this will be invaluable.”
Driving the No. 14 Mobil 1 / 5.11 Tactical / The Thermal Club Porsche 911 GT3 R, James Sofronas and returning teammate Matt Halliday would take top honors for the team. Qualifying third in class for Friday’s Round Five of the SprintX championship, Sofronas would take on opening duties, holding his own throughout the opening 30 minutes. At 1.5 miles, the shortest distance of any circuit in the series, James knew that avoiding calamity would be a critical component of his stint, which he managed easily. Once the pit window was open, Sofronas would hand the reigns to Halliday, who would drive the car home for the remainder of the race. While Matt would not end the race completely unscathed, he nonetheless managed to hold position, taking third on the day.
For Saturday’s Round Six, the tone of the race would be fairly similar. Per series rule, the driving order would be reversed, with Halliday holding his own throughout the opening rounds before handing over to Sofronas. Unfortunately a pit lane penalty would send the team down the order, with the No. 14 ultimately taking seventh.
For the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R, a quiet weekend would underscore a strong foundation for both Preston Calvert and Alec Udell. Starting from the 10th row, Calvert would open up Friday’s round with his usual faultless run, running in eighth before handing over to teammate Udell as stops cycled through. With Alec in the car, the No. 77 would slowly move up the order, however with a long string of green flag laps the notoriously tight circuit proved difficult to pass on with Udell taking seventh. During Saturday’s Race Two, the driving order would reverse, early contact would impact the car’s run, getting their Porsche off to a muted beginning, ultimately finishing in eighth.
For Udell, walking away with a clean race is always a positive experience.
“We knew coming to Lime Rock that passing would be tough” stated Udell. “Preston did a great job, and his pace is getting stronger every race. There’s always something going on at the 1.5 mi “Bull Ring” so to come out with a relatively unscathed car and 2 top 10’s is a success. I’ve really enjoyed the SprintX championship with Preston so far, but definitely look forward to heading to Road America for the sprint championship, it should be a great track for us.”
For Preston Calvert, a solid team effort underscored the challenges of Lime Rock.
“The best way to describe Lime Rock is challenging,” stated Calvert. “The team did a great job preparing the car with such a tight turnaround, and as the weekend moved on I felt my time were getting more and more competitive. It’s unfortunate Alec had a potentially good performance taken away by early contact, but he held on and we did the best we could. I especially want to thank a couple of the guys at GMG, Matt Fitzgerald and Kyle Ashcraft, who’ve done a remarkable job on the 77 car.”
In the series’ GTS races, George Kurtz would continue his performance in the team’s No. 04 CrowdStrike McLaren 570S GT4. Following a victory in Canada, the Arizona resident came in to the weekend fully focused on repeating the effort. With the layout of Lime Rock emphasizing different characteristics of the vehicles, George would run strong, placing himself in a podium position before misfortune would fall. Following a fourth-place performance on Friday, Kurtz was primed for a podium position on Saturday, running second in class for much of the race. Unfortunately, on the very last lap, George would suffer contact from behind sending him down the order, ultimately finishing in fifth after a race that had shown potential beyond the result.
“After our run in Canada, we of course wanted to repeat that performance,” stated Kurtz. “Unfortunately contact on the last lap kept us from that, but we ran consistent laps and I think we generally proved competitive. The team did a great job getting the car together, and we continue to learn so we’ll be even stronger at the next round.”
With three weekends of SprintX competition behind, the series will now return to their sprint racing roots, joining the Verizon IndyCar series at the famed Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Practice will begin on Friday, June 23, with double-header race action on Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25. Full details will be announced in the coming weeks.