More than 15 championships in Pirelli World Challenge will be decided this weekend at Watkins Glen International, including the coveted GT overall and GT Sprint titles with the pair of 50-minute races.
With a 29-point lead in the overall standings, newly crowned GT SprintX champion Toni Vilander seeks the overall championship, although the R. Ferri Motorsport driver trails Pfaff Motorsports’ Scott Hargrove by eight points in the GT Sprint title.
“It’s better to go flat out in the final races and this is what we did for the GT SprintX title,” said Vilander. “I am thinking about the overall championship also and we talked about it over several weekends. I know the Watkins Glen track and I love the track. It should be okay for our race car.”
Hargrove, a former open-wheel rising star, is making his rookie performance in PWC an impressive one with double wins at St. Petersburg and consistent podium finishes both Sprint and SprintX.
“With Pfaff and I being new to GT3 competition this season, we knew it was going to be a challenge,” he said. “That said, we set our goals high given our success in Porsche Cup racing. Winning the first two races of the year in St. Pete solidified our goal and raised the bar even further.
“I’ve been looking forward to Watkins Glen for quite some time and all our focus will be on finishing the year the same way we started it!”
Porsche factory driver Michael Christensen is still in the GT points fight along with the K-PAX Racing pair of Rodrigo Baptista and former GT champion Alvaro Parente.
In the GT overall manufacturers’ standings, Ferrari has 140 to Porsche’s 134 and Bentley’s 106, while Pfaff Motorsports tops the GT Sprint team points with 144 to K-PAX Racing’s 138 and R. Ferri Motorsport’s 134.
In the GTA class, Martin Fuentes seeks a repeat of his 2016 title with an 18-point margin over Yuki Harata.
The class title will likely come down to the Squadra Corse Garage Italia and Dream Racing, with third-place runner Parker Chase withdrawing from the weekend due to family matters.
Sofronas Looks to Lock Up GTS Title; Close Fight in GTSA
In GTS, James Sofronas already collected the GTS SprintX Pro-Am title with Alex Welch, but also leads the overall and Sprint championships heading into the weekend.
The GMG Racing owner/driver, who won the 2017 GTA and GT SprintX Pro-Am titles, holds a 38-point lead over Racers Edge Motorsports’ Harry Gottsacker in the overall title race and 21 points ahead of Lawson Aschenbach in the Sprint championship fight.
“Looking back at everything for 2018, this is where we wanted to be, with an Audi and with GMG Racing in GTS,” said Sofronas. “And winning the GTS SprintX title with my buddy, Alex, was special.
“These championships aren’t going to come around at this age (50 next month).”
In addition, the manufacturers’ point battle is extremely close with Audi leading at 97 followed by Chevrolet at 89, Ford at 88 and Panoz at 86.
GMG tops the teams championship with 179 to Racers Edge at 170 followed by Blackdog Speed Shop at 161, Team Panoz Racing at 158 and PF Racing at 147.
Newly crowned SprintX Am champion Drew Staveley, meanwhile, also leads the GTSA points, but only six markers ahead of Jeff Courtney, with Tony Gaples and Mike Hedlund tied for third in the standings.
“We put together a solid season to run for the GTS Am classes and the SprintX is the first of those championships,” said Staveley. “We still have the GTS Sprint Am class to run for at Watkins Glen now.
“That championship is much closer than the SprintX Am class, just six points in front of Jeff Courtney. It won’t be easy with two races at the Glen.”
A total of 79 cars are entered across the GT, GTS and Touring Car races this weekend, which sees track action kick off on Friday.