Pirelli World Challenge teams head to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for what will be the largest field of the season.
A total of 78 cars are entered between its six classes, including season-tying or record highs for the GT/GT-A (23) and GTS (28) categories.
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The doubleheader round held on the 2.258-mile circuit, with 50-minute GT/GT-A/GTS races held on Saturday and Sunday, will see a number of new and returning faces, particularly in the GT class.
Ryan Dalziel makes his debut with EFFORT Racing, replacing Tim Bergmeister at the wheel of the team’s No. 31 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The same car won earlier in the month on the streets of Toronto in the hands of Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy.
Dalziel’s former open-wheel and sports car teammate, Alex Figge, meanwhile, returns to action with a rebuilt K-PAX Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3. It comes following Figge’s heavy accident at Road America that ruled the mid-engined sports car out of the Toronto weekend.
After a number of setbacks in the car’s build and development, Mid-Ohio could very well see the debut of the new Acura TLX-GT from RealTime Racing. Series veteran Peter Cunningham completed a shakedown earlier this week with the four-wheel drive, turbocharged beast.
One car that won’t be taking part this weekend is the No. 16 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Nick Mancuso, following a pair of accidents in Toronto for the Chicago-area driver. Anthony Lazzaro will remain behind the wheel of the team’s No. 61 entry.
Additionally, former IndyCar Series rookie-of-the-year Alex Lloyd will be in a second CRP Racing entry, piloting the team’s Hawk Performance-sponsored Corvette alongside Mike Skeen, who is a two-time winner this year since switching to an Audi R8 LMS ultra.
Cadillac Racing continues to lead the way in the championship, with Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim set to do battle again with the vast array of GT3 competition, in what could be another uphill weekend for the pair of Cadillac CTS-V.Rs on the fast, but technical natural terrain circuit.
The GT-A class sees an 11-car entry for Mid-Ohio, with no major changes since Toronto, other than the return of Jeff Courtney (JCR Motorsports Audi) and Jim Taggart (Taggart Autosport Porsche) to the class.
DragonSpeed’s Henrik Hedman took over the class championship lead in Canada, although the Swede still searches for his first victory of the season in his Ferrari.
A season record 28 cars are entered in the GTS class, led by the pair of Kinetic Motorsports Kias of Nic Jonsson and Mark Wilkins, which have combined for three road course victories this season.
Other contenders include defending class champion Lawson Aschenbach (Blackdog Racing Camaro) and Jack Baldwin (GTSport Racing Porsche).
There are a number of additional entries for Mid-Ohio, including a Capaldi Racing Mustang for Pirelli Word Challenge President/CEO Scot Bove and open-wheel rising star Austin Cindric, who will each race once in the special charity entry to benefit the Special Operations Warriors Foundation.
Nissan will also have extra cars, with Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge outfits Doran Racing and Skullcandy Racing entering Nissan 370Zs for the first time this season, while Robert Stout returns to series competition in a Ken Stout Racing Scion for the first time since Barber in April.