UDELL, GMG TAKE VICTORY IN PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE SEASON OPENER
Continuing the momentum gained in the second half of 2015, Global Motorsports Group’s (GMG) own Alec Udell made a commanding statement on the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT-Cup category with a victory during today’s season opening round at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
“This is a fantastic way to start the season, I couldn’t be happier,” stated Udell. “We’ve been showing strong pace all weekend, and even though we didn’t take the pole, I think we all felt that we had a car capable of winning. Thanks to everyone at GMG for helping me put together a program to come back this season, as well as everyone at Euroworld Motorsports, Panther Pipeline and Amsource Capital for making this possible. I really enjoyed the fight out there, and it’s a tremendous way to begin everything, but obviously we have more racing tomorrow.”
After just missing out on pole position during this morning’s qualifying session, the driver who grew up in nearby Woodlands, Texas was off to a strong start in the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsport / Panther Pipeline / Amsource Capital Porsche 911 GT3 Cup as the field went green. Alec immediately began his chase for pole-sitter Sloan Urry throughout the opening laps, repeatedly turning the fastest laps in the category. Having won three races in the category last season, Alec knew that patience would be his key, and as the 50-minute race carried on it was clear that not only would speed be key, but car management as well. Just before the halfway point, Alec’s opportunity would come in the form of traffic, as Urry and and Udell would encroach on a series of cars in front of them. As the duo approached, Alec would see his opportunity, making a clean move for the lead and never looking back.
It would serve as Udell’s fourth victory in the series and a strong opening to his title campaign.
Meanwhile, the team’s other GT-Cup competitor, Alex Welch in the No. 08 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 991, would run a quiet race to finish fifth. A seasoned veteran of competition both with the team and in the series, the Colorado native was solid in his first race in the GT-Cup category, setting a series of strong lap times to position himself well for tomorrow’s festivities.
The team’s lone GT entry, however, would suffer a challenging day. Running the first race in the all-new No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club Porsche 911 GT3 R, driver and team owner James Sofronas was developing a strong pace over the course of the weekend, however when the green flag fell the Californian would fall victim to an incident in front of him. With the No. 67 Aston Martin of Duncan Ende spinning due to contact with a competitor, Sofronas was left with nowhere to go, damaging his front bumper and splitter in the process. Immediately pulling in to the pits for repairs, the team did a heroic job of getting the car back in shape, tapping in to their experience despite a new car to get their Porsche back in tact to see the finish. Despite the extent of the repairs, Sofronas was still able to set the 14th best lap time in the race, a strong showing of the team’s ability to cut zero corners in their process.
“Today is all about celebrating Alec, but what an amazing job by our entire crew today,” stated Sofronas. “Alec and everyone in support of him has worked tremendously hard to put this program together, and it’s great to see it come together. He made a great statement on his championship hopes and we hope to see it through for the rest of the season. Today was obviously frustrating on my end, what an incredible job by our guys. There was a palpable ‘never give up’ sense within the whole team, and it was impressive that they were able to not only get the car back together, but a fast car at that! Everyone should be proud of the job they did, and we look forward to tomorrow’s events.”
With little time to celebrate, the entire series will go back to competition in less than 24 hours, with racing action beginning at 3:15 ET. Live coverage can be found via webstream at world-challenge.com/streamvideo