Both current GT2 cars offer a strong package for Bronze-rated drivers, according to James Sofronas, who has become the first driver to sample both Porsche and Audi’s packages in a race weekend environment.
The GMG team owner is giving the Audi R8 LMS GT2 its race debut in the Blancpain GT Sports Club at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend, two months after competing in one of 12 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport cars in Porsche’s single-make race at Spa in July.
Sofronas, whose California-based team currently runs Porsche and Audi machinery in Pirelli GT4 America and Blancpain GT World Challenge America, was invited to complete a “real-world” test in a WRT-run R8 LMS GT2 this weekend.
“Audi approached me about a month ago when this opportunity came up and they knew they’d have a car that they wanted to go through some real-world testing with,” he told Sportscar365.
“Between our long-standing relationship with Audi and the fact that we have run their GT3 cars in the past and now their current GT4 cars, they thought it would be good to have a Bronze driver drive the car because that’s who this car is really built for.
“I’ve had quite a bit of track time in the Audi because we tested at Paul Ricard on Wednesday for probably about two and a half hours, total, during that day.
“Then, including [Saturday] morning, another four hours here in Barcelona, so quite a bit of time in the Audi and more than I had in the Porsche.”
He explained that it’s hard to directly compare the Audi with Porsche, given the different conditions of his experiences in both cars, and the fact that Porsche event used Michelin tires instead of the SRO’s standard Pirellis.
The Audi currently seems quicker than the Porsche before any Balance of Performance has come into effect, with Sofronas’ lap times placing him above mid-pack in GT Sports Club amongst other Bronze drivers in GT3 machinery.
Paddock rumors suggest this is a couple of seconds per lap quicker than the Porsche in its current form, which holds true when considering the 911 GT2 RS Clubsport’s pace at Spa relative to Bronze GT3 drivers.
“It’s hard to [compare], without having the GT2 Porsche here,” Sofronas said.
“They’re different cars, for sure, but it would be hard to say which is faster without driving both here at the same time, same session, same tires, same fuel load.
“They’re both very capable, without a doubt. Just overall in their quest to become a gentleman’s car, with lots of capability, both cars meet that in spades.”
Sofronas admitted that he is slightly disappointed not to have any other GT2 cars as competition this weekend after planned Porsche entries were withdrawn.
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t [want more cars here],” he said. “When I found out that the two Porsche entries were pulled or didn’t show up, I learned this when I was connecting on my flight in Paris.
“I wanted to see how the car would compete, performance-wise, but in the end, the opportunity is still amazing.
“I was a little disappointed and I reached out to Audi who said it doesn’t change their goal here, to evaluate its performance at a track where GT3 competes and there are gentlemen GT3 drivers and a bunch of engineers collecting a ton of data.
“I would say that by the end of the weekend we’ll have over eight hours of driving time on this car, which is invaluable because Audi is trying to catch up to be able to deliver a complete car by the end of the year.”