Newly crowned Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup class Champion Alec Udell has his sights set on a jump to GT3 machinery for next year, in either the GT or GTA class.
The 20-year-old Clemson University mechanical engineering student has wasted no time getting his ducks in a row to graduate to one of the top-two classes in World Challenge.
Udell said last season’s results, 12 class wins in 18 starts and no finish worse than second in GT Cup competition in his GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, helped pave the way for the next step in his career.
“Basically [last year] put me on the track to go to GT next year, whether that’s GT or GTA is still up for the series to decide,” Udell told Sportscar365.
“It’s a matter of where they’ll put me. I think most likely they’ll put me in GTA but that’s not entirely certain. Wherever they put me is where I’ll go.
“I think GTA would be the best place for me to start out in just because I don’t have that much seat time in a GT3-spec car, and I think it would be a good place for me to go to and possible move up sometime during the season.”
Udell took little time adjusting to the series after starting his career in karting and club racing in the U.S. and Europe, having made his PWC GTS class debut in 2011, as the youngest licensed series driver at the age of 15.
A strong 2015 campaign in GT Cup that included three class wins and nine podium finishes in the final nine races provided a preview of what was to come, and sold Udell on the top-level categories.
“2015 was my first season in GT Cup,” he said. “I felt very comfortable right away in the car, it was like racing the go-karts I used to race.
“All the cars are spec, in theory they’re all the same, so it’s about the driver and how he works with his mechanic on getting the car optimized for the track and making no mistakes.
“If you make a mistake in one of these cars, you lose a position. You lose just a few tenths of a second and these cars are so close you can’t make mistakes.”
Having clinched the 2016 GT Cup title one weekend early at Sonoma Raceway, Udell got a taste of GT3 machinery for the first time in the season-ending round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last month, in GMG’s Porsche 911 GT3 R in SprintX competition.
The Charleston, Ill. native also impressed with a strong weekend in a one-off Porsche Supercup outing during the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix weekend at Circuit of the Americas, but while more Supercup races are appealing, Udell said his focus remains on a return to PWC with the James Sofronas-led GMG squad.
“For right now it’s just been talking with GMG,” he said. “I’ve been looking at some options to go run some more [Porsche] Supercup races, but I’m not sure where that will take me.
“James has made a great home for me here. I’ve been working with him to see what we can put together. When you’ve got something that’ working there you don’t want to change that formula.
“I’m working on getting the budget aligned and making sure that I have enough money to run the season like I need to, because that was the crucial part in being able to succeed this year was that we had everything in order at the beginning of the season so all I had to focus on was the driving.
“Right now, I’m working through exams and putting together some deals before next season, but [PWC] is going to be a good place to focus on for the year, especially since it will be my first year in the GT3 R.”