Spencer Pumpelly says his Pirelli GT4 America Sprint ride with TRG is providing “a different feel” from his usual role in sports car racing.
Pumpelly is embarking on his first full season of SRO Motorsports America competition this weekend on the streets of St. Pete, at the wheel of the team’s Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
While no stranger to the Kevin Buckler-led operation, or Porsche for that matter, Pumpelly admits the single-driver sprint format provides a unique opportunity and challenge.
“It’s definitely a different feel from what I’m used to,” Pumpelly told Sportscar365.
“It’s simple things like walking into the drivers’ meeting all by myself, not having a co-driver to point in the right direction. It’s different.
“At the same time, it good and bad. There’s a little more pressure because make or break, it’s going to be my decisions in the car.
“I’ve been fortunate to have some good co-drivers in the past, especially guys like Dillon Machavern, who I ran with last season, and Andy Lally, who I’m with in the other series.
“But [driving solo] means you can’t rely on other people to either confirm or dispute some of your hunches.
“For example, if I think a car is acting a little funny, and Andy says the exact same thing, I feel more confident going to my engineer to say, ‘These are the changes I think we have to make.’
“But at the same time, I’ve certainly got the experience to bring that confidence forward. I think I’m actually going to enjoy it.”
Pumpelly, who last drove full-time for TRG in 2012 in an American Le Mans Series GTC campaign, said the prospects of a GT4 Sprint program had been building during the second half of last year.
“I was definitely excited to get the call from Kevin,” he said.
“We talked a little about it last year and some of the races we did. We ran the [California] 8 Hours at Laguna and did St. Pete and Long Beach in the Aston.
“The seed had been planted but when he said, ‘Let’s do it’ I definitely jumped on it and have been pretty excited.”
With a competitive field of GT4 machinery, as well as drivers, Pumpelly says he sees at least six other championship contenders that will likely be in the mix from the start of the season.
A total of 20 cars, spread between GT4 Pro and Am entries, are on the grid for this weekend’s pair of 50-minute races.
“The McLarens are strong; we saw that at Daytona,” Pumpelly said. “The Mustangs are strong at a place like this, and I think at some other places we go, that will be a good car.
“We’ve got the Robinsons. That Camaro is stout as we know and they’re both good drivers. Then we’ve got other Porsches and the X-Bow GT4, which is an x-factor.
“This is going to be far from a layup. I think we’re going to have some really good competition. Especially for the start of the season, I just want to make sure we have good, solid finishes.
“We have a huge group this weekend cheering us on and we’ve got a lot of cool after-hours events, some wine-tasting and neat parties. Kevin really knows how to put on a good event.
“I know they want to all see me win the races but for me, I just want to think championship.”