A total of 43 entries across four classes are entered for next weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge season-opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, with the preliminary entry list for the GT and GTS Sprint rounds having been released.
ENTRY LIST: St. Pete
The GT class features a 14-strong entry, led by defending champion Alvaro Parente of K-PAX Racing, who will face an increased level of competition for the 2017 GT crown.
While both Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper are back in their Cadillac ATS-V.Rs, along with 2016 championship runner-up Patrick Long in Wright Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ryan Dalziel makes his series return in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 fielded by CRP Racing.
Ferrari returns to top-level GT class competition this year, with R. Ferri Motorsport back in action as well, with Alex Riberas set to pilot the team’s new Ferrari 488 GT3 car.
RealTime Racing embarks on a full-season campaign with its pair of new Acura NSX GT3 cars for Ryan Eversley and Peter Kox, while Absolute Racing has returned with its two Bentley Continental GT3s, with only Adderly Fong confirmed so far.
While Magnus Racing has yet to announce the pro driver for its second Audi R8 LMS, which will also run in the GT class, Bryan Sellers will make his series debut in a second K-PAX McLaren 650s GT3, which is also expected to be a title contender.
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, meanwhile, switches from McLaren to Porsche, with Jon Fogarty remaining at the wheel, with the St. Pete race seeing a one-off entry from TRG for James Davison, in an Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
Eight cars are set to do battle in GTA, headed up by defending GT Cup champion Alec Udell, who makes the step up to GT3 machinery this year, as part of a two-car effort by GMG Racing for the season-opener.
In addition to the returning James Sofronas and Michael Schein, of GMG and Wright, respectively, the class will see the return of Tim Pappas and Black Swan Racing, with a new Mercedes-AMG GT3.
John Potter will make his series debut in the No. 44 Magnus Audi, while Pablo Perez Companc is confirmed in a Mercedes-AMG entered by Champ 1, with Italian Daniel Mancinelli in a TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3.
Mike Hedlund, meanwhile, is set for a full-season run in K-PAX’s third McLaren, as the only British supercar competing in the GTA class.
While the St. Pete round sees only two entries in GT Cup, for Preston Calvert (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) and Marko Radisic (Ferrari Challenge Evo), the standalone GTS race features a provisional field of 19 cars.
Among the eight different manufacturers represented is Chevrolet, which will give the worldwide debut of the Camaro GT4.R, in the hands of Blackdog Speed Shop’s Tony Gaples and Lawson Aschenbach.
Other new-for-2017 cars expected to debut include the Panoz Avezzano GT for Ian James, as a single-car entry for St. Pete, as well as two McLaren 570S GT4s, entered by KPR and GMG, respectively.
The GTS class will also see four Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs for the first time, fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports and Case-It Racing.
Reigning class champions ANSA Motorsports is back, but currently without its drivers’ champion Brett Sandberg, although the team has two KTM X-Bow GT4s entered but currently with to-be-announced drivers.
They’re joined by a pair of Mantella Motorports X-Bow GT4s, along with the two SIN R1 GT4s from Racer’s Edge Motorsports and Ginetta G55 entries fielded by Performance Motorsports Group.
Track action gets underway on Thurs. March 9, with testing and practice sessions for GT/GTA/GT Cup, as well as practice and qualifying for GTS, with the first of two GTS races set for Friday.