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Porsche Sprint Challenge NA

Porsche Endurance, Sprint Challenges Combine at COTA

First-ever Porsche Endurance Challenge North America race in the books at Circuit of The Americas…

Photo: Porsche

Porsches and star power descended on Circuit of The Americas last weekend, as Porsche Sprint Challenge North America and USA West by Yokohama combined for their first joint event of 2024 and the inaugural Porsche Endurance Challenge North America championship got underway.

The likes of actor Patrick Dempsey, decorated racers such as Jan Magnussen, Porsche Carrera Cup North America points leader Loek Hartog and past Porsche championship winners such as Riley Dickinson and Zachary Vanier were just a handful of drivers eager to take part in the series’ biggest weekend to date.

Porsche Endurance Challenge North America

Porsche single-make racing launched its first-ever endurance race in North America, featuring a one-hour race that competitors came out in droves to support.

The inaugural victory went to Paul Bocuse, 2023 Porsche Sprint Challenge North America Cayman class champion and current 992 GT3 Cup competitor, in the No. 271 MDK Motorsports Porsche 992 GT3 Cup, alongside former Porsche Carrera Cup North America multiple-race winner Trenton Estep.

After starting from pole position, the pair shuffled throughout the order in Sunday’s race. However, in the closing stages, Estep moved into the lead and on to victory.

Anthony Mcintosh and 2022 Carrera Cup champion Parker Thompson with JTR Motorsports Engineering finished second in the inaugural event, while the battle for third came down to the final turn. Therese Lahlouh and Darius Trinka were poised to fight to the checkered flag, but tangled while coming to the front stretch, and both cars missed the corner.

Magnussen was third across the line in the second MDK car but suffered a penalty for a pit-lane infringement, handing the final podium spot to the No. 233 Porsche of Charlie Hayes and Reinhold Krahn.

In Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport action, Loek Hartog and Michael Clark came home with the win in the No. 17 Kellymoss Porsche.

The pair finished ahead of Wright Motorsports’ Dempsey – back on track for the first time since 2015 – and longtime Porsche driver Patrick Long. The duo jumped to second after starting sixth, while Jason Golan and Alexandre Premat finished third to give Kellymoss two spots on the first-ever Endurance Challenge Cayman class podium.

RESULTS: Race

Porsche Sprint Challenge North America

Ashley Freiberg became a first-time winner in the 992 GT3 Cup class on Saturday at COTA, impressively besting the season’s front-runner, Jared Thomas, in the final five minutes. Despite leading the entire race, Thomas was chased down by Freiberg in the closing laps to pass in her No. 22 MDK Motorsports Porsche.

Sunday brought heartbreak, however, as Freiberg was unable to take the green flag and Thomas returned to his winning ways in the No. 296 Porsche for JTR Motorsports Engineering. Paul Bocuse converted his two pole positions into podium finishes – and nearly a win on Sunday if not for a race-ending caution while making a pass on Thomas on the final lap.

David Musial Jr. finished third in Race 2.

Joel Johnson took home a double victory at COTA in the 992 GT3 Cup Masters class, driving the No. 227 JDX Racing Porsche and keeping John Gilliland at bay for two runner-up finishes. Mark Boden and Scott Blind split the third-place finishes in Race 1 and Race 2, respectively.

As he’s done several times this season, Charlie Peter ran nearly uncontested on Saturday en route to the first 991 GT3 Cup win of the weekend for Team Phenix. On Sunday, though, Peter tangled with his class rival, Nick Meissner, forcing the two out of contention and handing over the win to Tony Malito with Fall-Line Motorsports.

Despite a crash in practice, Ian Porter went on to win both races in the Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport category. Porter wasn’t the most dominant Porsche, however, as Nick Shaeffer led the majority of the two races before experiencing late issues that resulted in retirements. Porter’s teammate, Caroline Candas, was there to bring home 1-2 finishes for the Rafa Racing Team by JDX in both rounds, while Loni Unser scored her season-best finish of third in Race 1, and Chris Hutter rounded out the Race 2 podium.

Unser’s Kellymoss teammate, Michael Clark, swept the Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport Masters races. He captured the win on Saturday with ease, but Sunday’s win was a battle of survival as the Masters leaders came together in a four-way battle, and Clark escaped unscathed.

RESULTS: Race 1/Race 2 (911 GT3 Cup)
RESULTS: Race 1/Race 2 (Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport)

Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West

After making his presence known at Utah Motorsports Campus in Rounds 3 and 4, James Li solidified his position as a top contender in the series this weekend at COTA. Li became the first winner in the 992 GT3 Cup class this year, aside from Blake Mcdonald, who started first in both races this weekend but eventually gave way to Li’s No. 255 RWE Porsche.

With clean air, Li took off from the rest of the field, leaving Mcdonald for two runner-up finishes and Casey Dennis and Luke French splitting third-place finishes.

In the 992 GT3 Cup Masters class, Kevin Woods scored both victories, but not without late pressure from Laura Ely in the final minutes of Race 1 ahead of Jim Walsh. Walsh held off Ely in Race 2 for the runner-up spot, while the latter had a late incident that prevented her from a double podium weekend and snuck Reinhold Krahn in for third on Sunday.

Michael Gaulke was the Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport victor on both Saturday and Sunday, driving the No. 99 Competition Motorsports Porsche.

RESULTS: Race 1/Race 2

Porsche Sprint Challenge holds back-to-back weekends next month with the North American championship at Virginia International Raceway on June 14-16 and the USA West championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on June 21-23.

Porsche Endurance Challenge North America returns in more than two months’ time at Road America on Aug. 11.

Porsche Sprint Challenge race replays are available on the Porsche Motorsport North America YouTube channel.

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