Less than 90 days ago, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing announced its intention to compete for the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint Championship with new equipment, the Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Since that announcement, the Dallas-based team has completed four successful tests, totaling more than 1,500 miles with the new Red Dragon.
Upon the announcement of the switch from the McLaren 650S GT3 to the Porsche, the GAINSCO team, led by veteran team manager Terry Wilbert, relocated to Porsche Motorsports North America headquarters where they prepared the new car.
Nineteen days later, the team traveled to Willow Springs International Raceway where they completed a successful shakedown.
“We’re really appreciative of the professionalism and warm welcome Porsche has extended to us,” said Wilbert.
“Nick Lester and Porsche Motorsports team opened their doors for us literally, as we relocated to their headquarters to build the new car in December.
“The transition has been quite seamless and we are looking forward to a competitive effort starting at St. Petersburg.”
Veteran Porsche driver Wolf Henzler joined the GAINSCO team at the two-day test in New Orleans earlier this month. His experience gave valuable direction as GAINSCO Engineer John Ward and driver Jon Fogarty familiarized themselves with the car.
“It was great to work with Wolf and study his approach and driving lines with this car,” said Fogarty. “He’s got as much experience as anyone driving these cars. His tips and pointers were very helpful, so it was a great opportunity for us.”
Engineer John Ward echoed Fogarty’s comments. “The Porsche is new for all of us, there are always a lot of unknowns in terms of set-up and what works and what doesn’t,” said Ward. It can take a lot of track time to establish a baseline, so it was a good idea to have Wolf join us for the first big test.
“He gave me great feedback to work with and gave us a benchmark for a time out on the track. This new car really suits Jon’s driving style and by the end of the day, he matched Wolf’s time, so I think we are headed in the right direction.”
The team’s most recent and final test before next month’s season opener in St. Petersburg came last week at Sebring.
The combination of testing locations allowed the GAINSCO team to log miles on a variety of track configurations and surface characteristics.
“I’m really pleased with our winter test program,” said Fogarty. “The information we learned at Sebring is typically applicable to Long Beach and other circuits we race.
“It’s bumpy, relatively warm and there are transitions from asphalt to concrete.
“John [Ward] came with a huge test plan and we worked our way through all of it. The new Red Dragon responded very well to his changes and I am feeling very optimistic with our equipment heading into the season.”
The Pirelli World Challenge Sprint Championship opens with a double-header on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, March 9-12.