While the 2014 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama features 16 races awarding equal points, the rounds Aug. 8-10 at Road America might be the most crucial this season. It could be a make-or-break weekend for competitors racing for championships in all four classes - Platinum Cup, Platinum Masters, Gold Cup and Gold Masters - since three rounds will take place on the fast, fearsome circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
The regularly scheduled Rounds 11 and 12 of the championship will be joined by Round 6, which was rained out May 24 at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. Any driver who could sweep all three races will earn 60 points, a vital haul in any championship charge. Round 11 of the series is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9 on the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit at Road America, one of the fastest and more fearsome circuits in North America with its long straightaways and fast corners. Rounds 12 and 6 are scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 10.
Just four rounds will remain in the season for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama - one of 19 global Porsche single-make championships - after this weekend.
An interesting pattern of parity started at the last two rounds in the series, July 12-13 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, that could add spice to the championship race down the stretch.
|Sloan Urry powered away to his first victory of the season in July at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.|
None of the three main contenders in the Platinum Cup (2014 model cars) title race - Colin Thompson, Angel Benitez Jr. or Michael Lewis - won at CTMP, the first time that has happened this season.Sloan Urry, fourth in the standings, won Round 9 in his No. 20 JDX Racing Porsche GT3 Cup car, while 17-year-old Jesse Lazare, seventh in the points, earned his first career victory in Round 10 in the No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed Porsche.
Thompson, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, still expanded his Platinum Cup points lead to 152-138 over Benitez with two runner-up finishes at CTMP in his No. 14 Kelly-Moss/Porsche of Bucks County entry. He has finished on the podium in seven of the nine rounds this season and will have a "homecourt advantage" this weekend, as Road America is the home track for Platinum Cup Team Championship leader Kelly Moss, a multi-car powerhouse based in Madison, Wisconsin.
Kelly Moss also leads the Platinum Cup Team Championship, 154-145, over Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport entering this weekend.
Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport's lone driver, Benitez, started the season by winning three of the first five rounds in his No. 05 Porsche. Benitez, from Valencia, Venezuela, is winless since Round 5 in late May at Lime Rock Park but has stood on the podium in three of the last four rounds to keep Thompson in his sights. Benitez finished runner-up to Craig Duerson last season in a wet, wild race at Road America.
Lewis, from Laguna Beach, California, has used two victories in May at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and consistency to climb to third in the championship with 125 points in the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian entry.
Urry, from Park City, Utah, could be one of the drivers poised to launch a championship charge at Road America. He earned his first win of the season last month at CTMP and joins Benitez as the only returning podium finishers from last year's two rounds at Road America. Urry placed second to 2013 series champion Madison Snow in Round 9 last yea.
Kasey Kuhlman and Christina Nielsen also enter Road America as consistent podium threats.
Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, is fifth in the Platinum Cup standings with 111 points in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports entry and is the runaway leader in the Platinum Masters (drivers 45 and older) class. He has earned two overall podium finishes this season and has scored 52 points in the last four rounds, more than any driver outside of the "big three" title contenders Thompson, Benitez and Lewis.
Nielsen, from Aarhus, Denmark, continues to progress in her first full season of racing in North America after competing in Porsche single-make series in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. She is sixth in points with 97 in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport entry and recorded her second podium finish of the season in Round 9 last month at CTMP.
Kuhlman has won eight of the nine rounds this season in the Platinum Masters class, but a tight race for second rages behind him. Just 18 points separate second-place Javier Quiros from fifth-place David Williams, with third-place David Calvert-Jones and fourth-place Amadeo Quiros sandwiched between them. Three races' worth of points could jumble the standings this weekend.
Thirty points separate the top five drivers in the Gold Cup (2010-2013 model cars) class, so the triple-header at Road America could be pivotal.
|Jeff Mosing, front, is challenging for the Gold Cup and Gold Masters titles.|
Patrick-Otto Madsen, from Boca Raton, Florida, has held the championship lead since Watkins Glen in late June and paces the class with 144 points in the No. 99 ANSA Motorsports Porsche. Consistency has been Madsen's hallmark, as he has two victories and five other podium finishes.
Fred Poordad, from San Antonio, Texas, is hanging tough in second with 122 points in the No. 02 Competition Motorsports 911 GT3 Cup car.
But reigning Gold Cup champion Michael Levitas looms in the rear-view mirrors of Madsen and Poordad.
Levitas, from Baltimore, didn't start Gold Cup competition until Round 3 in May at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as he raced Platinum Cup equipment at the season opener in March at Sebring International Raceway. But Levitas has surged into contention by finishing in the top two in Gold Cup in six of the seven rounds in which he has competed this season in the No. 35 TPC Racing Porsche, including a sweep of both rounds in June at Watkins Glen. Levitas is third in the standings with 121 points.
Jeff Mosing, from Austin, Texas, is fourth in Gold Cup with 116 points in the No. 01 Topp Racing Porsche. But he could jump into title contention at Road America by continuing his strong recent performance, as he won both Gold Cup rounds last month at CTMP.
Kristin Treager, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is fifth in Gold Cup with 114 points in the No. 52 Wright Motorsports Porsche.
Poordad, Levitas and Mosing are the top three in the Gold Masters championship, separated by just 22 points.
|Mark Llano scored two Gold Masters podium finishes in July at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.|
Competition also remains very tight in the Gold Cup Team Championship. ANSA Motorsports leads with 148 points, with Wright Motorsports second at 128. But Competition Motorsports, TPC Racing and Topp Racing are four, six and 10 points, respectively, behind Wright in the chase for second place.
Practice at CTMP starts at 10:25 a.m. (CT) and 2:10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, with qualifying at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9. Three 45-minute races are scheduled. Round 11 of the season starts at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, with Round 12 at 9:50 a.m. and the rescheduled Round 6 at 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10. All three races will be streamed live at FansChoice.TV, and live updates on all on-track sessions will be provided @IMSALive on Twitter.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama continues its 10th season at Road America, offering two unique classes of racing to fuel the competitive spirit of drivers and teams.
The two class divisions in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama are Gold Cup and Platinum Cup, with each class featuring a Masters Championship (for drivers 45 and over). Each class is awarded with a podium at the end of every race, with individual champion honors at the end of every season. Points are awarded by finish in class.
All Platinum Cup drivers will race this season in the 2014 version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, developed for Porsche one-make Cups worldwide and based on the street version of the current Porsche 911. The 3.8-liter power unit featured in the new 911 GT3 Cup car produces 460 horsepower and a maximum engine speed of 8,500 rpm. The new 911 GT3 Cup also includes a new Porsche six-speed sequential gearbox with a mechanical slip differential, with an electro-pneumatic paddle shift system creating faster, more efficient gear changes.
The 2010-2013 versions of the 911 GT3 Cup car will compete in the Gold Cup class, while the new 2014 model will race for Platinum Cup honors.