Sixteen-year-old Texan Riley Dickinson got off to a quick start to his maiden Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season.
How quick? He was P1 in the opening practice session of the season Friday morning in challenging damp-to-dry conditions at Barber Motorsports Park, site of this weekend’s season-opening doubleheader of races.
It was Dickinson’s first official session aboard the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry.
“We’ve done a lot of preparation coming into this weekend, so on that front, we feel pretty good,” Dickinson said this morning.
“The first session is not really that good of an indication on how fast everyone else is, just ‘cause of the rain that was thrown into it, but it still feels good to come out of it P1. We’ll see how the rest of the weekend goes. So far, so good.”
He wound up second quickest on the day behind Max Root, who topped the afternoon time charts at 1:27.648 in the No. 7 Wright Motorsports Porsche.The weekend calls for two, 45-minute GT3 Cup Challenge USA races.
The first is Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET, the second is Sunday at 12:55 p.m. ET. Both will be streamed live on IMSA.tv with an NBCSN tape-delayed telecast on Friday, April 19 at 12 p.m. ET.
Root Ready for Breakthrough in Second GT3 Cup Challenge USA Season
Root, a 20-year-old Californian, embarks on his second GT3 Cup Challenge USA season aboard the No. 7 Wright Motorsports entry in the Platinum Cup class.
Last year, he was the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship recipient and finished fourth in the season championship standings.He had five podium results during his rookie season but has yet to visit victory lane in the series.
Judging by how he performed on Friday, that breakthrough win could be coming very soon, but it’s not going to be easy.
“There’s some great drivers here in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge,” Root said. “I think it’s one of the best places for drivers to develop and to learn the nuances of these Cup cars, which have no traction control, no ABS and just really it’s all driver.
“So, it’s a great place for drivers to develop. This weekend and the whole series, we have some amazing drivers, from open-wheel guys to guys in Cup cars for five or six years, so it’s pretty impressive.
“I think for me to take it to the next level, obviously, it’s spending more time in the car, working with the engineer and really getting the peak performance out of the Porsche every single lap for the race.”
Ferriol Poised to Move Up in Gold Cup
Last year in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA Gold Cup class for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machines built between 2014 and 2016, it was mostly the Victor Gomez IV show.
The Puerto Rican driver for NGT Motorsport won 11 races and cruised to the class championship.
But Gomez was a previous Hurley Haywood Scholarship winner and had a great deal of experience in the series, whereas Rob Ferriol – who finished second in the standings – was a GT3 Cup Challenge USA rookie in 2018 and had 11 class podiums of his own.
This year, Gomez has moved up to the Platinum Cup class.Ferriol led both Gold Cup sessions Friday at Barber, posting a best lap of 1:29.477 in the afternoon session aboard the No. 5 TPC Racing entry.
“I’m looking forward to – we’ve got a big field, so we’ve got some new guys out and also fighting with some old guys,” Ferriol said. “We’ll just see what I’ve got on my second year.
“Last year was my first year in a Cup car, so I was learning the Cup car platform and I was learning, probably, 60 percent of the tracks we went to. So, now I’ve got the car in the bag, I’ve got a lot of the tracks in the bag, so this year’s it’s really just refinement, working with my coach and doing testing.”