Spencer Pumpelly says he has “high hopes” in his one-off return to TRG in this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge season-opener in St. Pete, believing the team’s Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 can challenge for victory.
Pumpelly has rejoined the Kevin Buckler-led team for the GT Sprint season-opener, site of TRG’s most recent PWC podium finish, when James Davison took the car to a runner-up finish in Race 1.
It marks Pumpelly’s first start with TRG since 2012, when he took part in the American Le Mans Series GTC class with the California-based squad, before going on to success with numerous other teams.
While committed to the SprintX rounds with Alegra Motorsports this year, Pumpelly received permission from the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona class-winning team to take part in this weekend’s r with TRG.
“It’s great to be back with Kevin and Deborah [Buckler] and a bunch of the guys that are here from the team,” Pumpelly told Sportscar365. “They’ve had a lot of success with this car.
“It’s a neat thing to drive. It’s different than a lot of the other GT3 cars, but a ton of fun.
“I got to test it last week. We shook it down at COTA and I’m really impressed with how well it does certain things.
“It is [one of the oldest cars around] but the braking is fantastic, the gearbox and the engine feel great, so it should be a good car.
“Even though it is a little older it has what it takes to be competitive.”
The 1.8-mile St. Pete street circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Pumpelly, who claimed GTS class honors in 2015 at the wheel of a Ford Mustang Boss 302.
“This place has been good to me,” he said. “That was a good car to have here, I think, horses for courses, and [the Aston Martin] has proven that it can go fast. [James] Davison put it on the podium last year.
“It all depends on how the BoP shakes out, but I’m certainly optimistic… Right now I have high hopes.
“This is one where we have a lot of guests from LaSalle and Wells Fargo and people in the area that come and support the team a lot. We’ve got the Dali museum rented.
“We’re going to be one of the most heavily cheered teams here.
“If I can find a way to win hopefully both races, but even one and do a little smoke show for the guys and gals that are supporting us, that would be a lot of fun.”
St. Pete a ‘Good Taste’ of PWC Ahead of SprintX Season
Pumpelly believes this weekend’s outing with TRG will give him a good impression of the GT class ahead of the SprintX season, when he joins Alegra and its full-season driver Michael Christensen.
Christensen is making his PWC debut this weekend, driving solo in the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“This gives me a little taste of the championship, a little idea of what to expect when we get to COTA and VIR,” Pumpelly said.
“Any time you can get in one of these cars and race against this competition it gives you a little more confidence, a little more knowledge, and that should be good for Alegra moving forward, too.”