The lower grid sizes seen at St. Petersburg in March continue for the third Sprint round for Pirelli World Challenge’s GT classes. With such a small field, an additional GTS contingent has been added to the field to create a 21-car grid for the annual Pirelli World Challenge feature at Long Beach.
In the GT class, there will be seven Pro entries. The biggest absence on the grid will be Callaway Competition USA, which withdrew their No. 26 entry for Daniel Keilwitz. GMG Racing, which did not field an entry at St. Petersburg in the class, will bring their No. 41 Porsche back out for Alec Udell. Udell finished seventh last year in a rough event.
The GTA subclass has six entries. Black Swan Racing has entered two Porsche 911 GT3 Rs in the field to supplement the class. Team owner Tim Pappas will be in the No. 54 Porsche, while Australian racer David Calvert-Jones will drive the No. 12 Porsche.
The race was originally scheduled to just be a GT/GTA race like last year’s event, which attracted 22 entries. However, due to a low expected entry, having an GTS Invitational class added onto the grid was floated to the teams at St. Petersburg and approved. It is somewhat similar to a move made at Road America last year that saw a 10-car TC Invitational added to the GTS races.
Six GTS teams have filed entries for this weekend’s race, but they’re plenty interesting in their own right. Black Swan Racing is debuting a new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR this weekend with Jeff Ward behind the wheel. While the 56-year old racer has very limited experience in sports cars, he’s been successful just about everywhere he’s competed. He’s a multiple-time AMA Supercross, Motocross and Supermoto champion. He’s finished as high as second in the Indianapolis 500 and won at Texas Motor Speedway in the then-Indy Racing League for Chip Ganassi in 2002. Ward tried NASCAR as well, running a few western races and attempting the 1998 Dura Lube/KMart 500 at Phoenix in the Cup Series. He failed to qualify.
Compass Racing has entered Paul Holton in their No. 78 McLaren, an entry originally announced for only the SprintX races. Spencer Pumpelly, who drove for The Racers Group in a GT class Aston Martin at St. Petersburg, will drive the team’s Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
UPDATE: At the time of the article’s posting, there were only 19 entries for the race. Since then, TruSpeed AutoSport entered a second Audi R8 LMS GT3 for Rocky Moran Jr. with Trench Shoring sponsorship that will run in the GT class. In addition, Competition Motorsports has entered a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR for Mike Sullivan.
The Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT). It will be streamed live at World-Challenge.com. The race will premiere on television Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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