Recently crowned Pirelli World Challenge GTA and SprintX Pro-Am champion James Sofronas says his long-awaited championships were the fulfillment of a dream that was born when he started his first PWC race in 1994.
The series stalwart won eleven races this season in the No. 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R across the Sprint and SprintX formats and secured his first PWC title after several near misses throughout his career.
Sofronas and his GMG Racing team had high expectations going into the 2017 season, and said the support of Porsche and the dedication of the GMG crew made it possible to achieve them.
“From the onset of the season this past year our goal was to win the GTA and the SprintX championships,” Sofronas told Sportscar365.
“Between the support from Porsche Motorsport and the commitment from the crew in setting these goals and making it very clear that’s what we wanted to do, honestly we would have been disappointed if it was anything less than that.
“It’s very difficult to achieve one, if not both, but that was what we wanted to do knowing that we had a year under our belt with the GT3 R and we’re really to understanding the platform.
“All year we were consistent. We never had a DNF, we never missed a lap, we finished all the laps of every race weekend which I think is a pretty amazing testament to the car and the team and the level of prep.
“I was able to clinch everything at Sonoma without much pressure to do so.”
Sofronas added that winning championships in this highly-professionalized era of PWC makes the feat all the more gratifying.
“World Challenge has certainly grown on many levels, most recently the professionalism and the association with the SRO,” he said.
“I almost won the championship overall in the Pro category in 2013, just got beat by a few points by Johnny O’Connell, but the competition wasn’t quite there like it is now.
“GT3 has become an unbelievably competitive class with pro drivers from factory efforts all over the world, so being a part of that program on the Pro-Am side in GTA has been exciting for me.
“Unfortunately the costs just keep going up and up and up, and that’s why the focus may shift to the GT4 class next year as we look to finalize some plans.
“I’ve been with World Challenge since 1994 with almost 220 starts and I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s where I’ve always wanted to race ever since I got my license that same year in ’94 and jumped into a race right away.
“I love the format: sprint racing, no pit stops. It just suits my style, and I’ve obviously been there ever since that day.”
Sofronas spoke publicly throughout the year about possibly hanging up the helmet after the 2017 season and focusing on running his team, but indicated that he was not shutting the door on driving again completely
“Let’s just say for now that I’m making all my plans right now for my clients first,” he said. “They are the priority and my racing fills in afterwards.
“At this point we have another full plate for 2018 as we look to finalize all of the programs, and then I’ll decide if I race again or if I just manage like I did at the California 8 Hours last month.”
GMG Closing in on 2018 Plans
Sofronas indicated that GMG could expand into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup program next year, with additional races also a possibility.
That program would run alongside a full-season commitment to the PWC GT and GTS classes, and the possibility of entering select Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge races as well remains an option.
“We have most of the driver lineups figured out,” he said. “We’re just trying to put the final pieces together with the budget and partners and sponsors, then we’ll be making a bigger announcement with a bigger partner with this effort within the next couple of weeks.
“We’re certainly planning on doing a lot of offseason testing to be fully prepared for next season.
“I would expect Porsche’s involvement to grow in 2018 from where it is already now.
“We’ve had excellent support from them and we expect that to continue and grow because now we have an involvement in the NAEC and IMSA.
“We’ll be driving their cars even more than last year with more opportunities to excel and run for success.”