GMG RETURNS TO IMSA COMPETITION AT DAYTONA
Continuing Global Motorsports Group’s (GMG) expansion of their driver development and performance platform, the team will return to their roots in IMSA competition, taking part in this month’s Daytona International Speedway festivities. As one of the leading Porsche-based driver development teams, GMG will present two Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR machines for the opening round of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge’s BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona. True to their efforts to present a world-class experience for drivers of different experience levels, the team will proudly welcome two newcomers to the sport, as well as a seasoned lineup of teammates for the all-new four-hour format.
“It’s great to be back at Daytona,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “It goes without saying that this is one of the most storied and amazing tracks to visit in the world, and we couldn’t be happier to return to such a venue. The new four-hour, multi-driver format has created a fantastic opportunity for a program like ours, and we’re delighted to align a great group together for our IMSA return. We have an excellent mix of talent, experience, and new enthusiasm, and above all I think it should all combine for an incredible month for everyone on the team. This Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport is such an excellent car for developing new talent, and at a place like Daytona… you can’t beat the experience. We’ll have some great and fast veterans in the race, guys like Matt Halliday, Alec Udell, Andy Lee as well as myself, but equally important we’re welcoming two fantastic guys to a new level of racing, as both Carter Yeung and Elias Sabo have repeatedly demonstrated an amazing commitment to growing in the sport, and this is the next logical step. We’re really looking forward to this.”
As part of a significant format change to IMSA’s famed production-based Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, GMG will be entering the season opener as part of an overhaul that has included a series-move to the worldwide GT4-spec of machinery in the Grand Sport (GS) category, designed for more affordable racing than their GT3 counterparts, as well as an all-new four-hour format for select races. This creates multi-driver experiences which allow multiple drivers to spread-out cost, as well as for inexperienced drivers to align with a roster of veteran teammates. With GMG having competed in multiple Rolex 24 at Daytona events, a return to the 3.56-mile, high-banked track presents a chance for less experienced drivers to compete at an international level of talent during the famed Rolex 24 at Daytona event week.
Entering with the No. 11 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR will be drivers Elias Sabo, Matt Halliday, and James Sofronas. An excellent mixture of experience, enthusiasm and speed, the trio will head to Daytona in search of a strong experience to open the season.
New to the sport, Elias Sabo will come to Daytona for his first major professional race of his career. No stranger to the sport, the Newport Beach native has been a recent product of the team’s driver development program, competing in numerous grassroots events including multiple podiums in Southern California’s prestigious Thermal Triple Crown winter races.
With many miles in the “Clubsport” under his belt, the newcomer relishes the opportunity to debut at Daytona.
“It’s incredible to think we’ll be racing on the high banks of Daytona in just a few weeks,” stated Sabo. “It’s been a fast ascension since joining GMG, but one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. James and the entire team have done a phenomenal job getting me seat time and experience over the last year to work up to this level, and I feel very well prepared thanks to their support. It’s a very exciting time and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
For Matt Halliday, a veteran of ChampCar competition, Porsche Supercup, Australian V8 SuperCars and more, a chance to make his Continental Challenge debut is a welcome one.
“This is one of those venues that you always want to compete at,” stated the New Zealander. “The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport presents such a great platform, and this should be a great event for it. It’s been a thrill working with Elias to see him develop as a driver, and with James’ experience at Daytona the three of us should run pretty strong, I’m really looking forward to the opportunity. It’s a cool new format for the series and I’m hopeful we can really show well here. I can’t thank James and all the guys enough for this.”
Not to be outdone, the No. 88 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport will feature a similar mix of experience and talent. Combining youth and experience will be GMG development graduate and now team coach Alec Udell as well as Andy Lee, joined by professional debutante Carter Yeung. Carter holds an especially great story to the team, having been a tuning customer for over seven years, and recently turning his attentions towards pro racing.
“This will definitely be the most high-profile event I’ve ever competed in,” stated Yeung. “It’s been a crazy path so far. I’ve actually known James and everyone at GMG since I was 15, but it’s really been in the last year that we’ve started to enjoy proper racing together. They truly have succeeded with a fully integrated path for me. We started with some tuning enhancements on my street car, and the team has since done an amazing job of presenting the world of pro racing to me, and I feel very prepared for Daytona. We’ve had some great races locally, and I’m excited to show what we can do when we get to Florida.”
After an incredible 2016 in which he won 12 races en route to the Pirelli World Challenge GT-Cup title, team veteran Alec Udell will join the team in search of strong results in his first IMSA race.
“It’s tough to say what the expectations will be, but we’re very anxious to get this going,” stated Udell. “Working with Carter has been very enjoyable during the winter, his commitment to what it takes has been remarkable, and that makes me very happy to join him as a teammate at Daytona. The GT4 Clubsport is a very different machine than the GT3 Cup machine that we won so many races with last year, but it’s a very well-behaved machine and should suit the circuit really well. Andy’s experience speaks for itself, so between the three of us it should be a pretty good group.”
Finally, Andy Lee will join the team as a multi-time winner in the Pirelli World Challenge series. A veteran of multiple disciplines and machines, the Colorado native will join the team as the senior member of the group, putting his combination of speed and patience to good use within the team.
Official practice actually begins this Friday during the famed “Roar Before the 24,” a three-day testing period in which IMSA teams from different series will prepare for the big weekend at the end of the month. The actual race, The BMW Endurance Classic, will occur on Friday, January 27 at 12:15PM ET. The team will continue to post updates throughout the month.