Udell, GMG Take Podium Sweep to Highlight Road America Weekend
Running three cars strong during last weekend’s DeVilbiss Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac, Global Motorsports Group’s (GMG) Alec Udell would make a commanding return to the Pirelli World Challenge’s GT Cup class, taking successive podiums in his first event since May.
“It was great to see Alec run so well this weekend,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “It’s been such a challenging season for Alec, it’s great to see him showing his potential. He drove incredibly well and showed remarkable patience, and I’m glad he’ll at least be able to look back on his season knowing that he scored a podium at nearly ever race he ran.”
Following a two-month break and being forced to miss the most recent GT Cup category round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the 19-year-old came into this weekend with a sole focus on podiums and victories. Qualifying his No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup third for Saturday’s Race One, the Woodlands, Texas native was off to a great start chasing down the top two and eventually finding himself in second for much of the event.
Driving his usual faultless run, Alec ran a series of strong and consistent lap times with the No. 02 Porsche of Sloan Urry in a race-long chase. Unfortunately, in the closing laps Urry would be able to capitalize on his chase and demote Alec to third, but he held remarkable composure to continue the chase, eventually crossing the finish line to take the final step of the podium.
For Sunday’s Race Two, the roles between Urry and Udell would reverse. With Alec sitting in third for much of the event, he would chase down Urry’s Porsche throughout the entirety of the race with the No. 02 making an error in the final lap and handing Alec second on the day.
This would serve as Udell’s sixth podium in seven races run.
“Another double podium definitely made for a good weekend,” stated Udell. “It’s tough because we have to be extremely mindful of damage and mistakes, but obviously we come here to win. Regardless, I enjoyed the competition with Sloan, as we seem to race each other clean and we gave each other proper respect. Everyone at GMG did a great job, I can’t thank James and everyone enough for doing such a great job of getting me here.”
In the GT category, James Sofronas and the No. 14 Mobil 1 / Spyder / The Thermal Club Audi R8 LMS ultra would return as the lone entrant in the pro class having missed the previous two rounds due to schedule conflicts and injury. For Sofronas, the weekend would actually involve three rounds, with the most recent Detroit Grand Prix having its second round postponed until Road America due to weather.
Being forced to start at the back of the field for Friday’s make-up race, Sofronas knew that a clean race would be instrumental in ensuring a strong run for the remaining two races on the weekend, and in such patience was the key to this first event. Despite this, a steady drive from James would see him gain five spots over the event eventually finishing 17th.
On Saturday’s race, a seventh row qualifying effort would unfortunately not translate to race results, as tire trouble would blight the team’s effort. Making a strong start and holding his own throughout the race, a blown tire in the very fast turn one would bring Sofronas to a stop, unfortunately having to be towed in for repairs. Quick work by the GMG crew would get James back on track, however, in the process of being brought in he would lose six laps eventually crossing the line in 26th.
On Sunday, James would once again see himself on the seventh row, running a strong race en route to gaining three positions, ultimately taking 11th on the day.
“Overall we’re satisfied, it’s such an unbelievably competitive series these days,” stated Sofronas. “Every time we get out there we discover new things about the car, and I’m pretty pleased with how well everyone on the team is working together. They put together a lightning fast pit stop to get my tire changed during Saturday’s race, and that should bode well for us as we look to future races where pit stops will be critical.”
Rounding out the team’s lineup was long-time team driver Alex Welch in the No. 76 Audi R8 LMS ultra, driving in the series’ GTA category.
During Saturday’s Race One, Welch would do a remarkable job of climbing from 26th place on the grid to seventh in class, demonstrating the Colorado resident’s strong combination of patience and aggression.
Unfortunately for Welch, during Race Two a mechanical gremlin would cost the driver dearly during the second half of the race. A rare part failure would end up starting a small fire in the car, which unfortunately grew into a large fire as the car sat parked by the side of the road. It would, of course, mean a retirement for Welch with substantial damage to his Audi.
Maintaining their commitment to the Pirelli World Challenge, GMG will return to action at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in just one months time. Stay tuned for future announcements on the team’s next planned event.