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Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Contenders Ready for Season-Opening Showcase in Sonoma

26 February 2021
  • Flagship SRO America Racing Returns with Renewed Vigor
  • Twenty-eight Drivers Suit Up for the Championship Chase
  • Series-high Five Manufacturers to Contend Global Manufacturer Title
  • Entry List - PDF

Sonoma, Calif. - The rolling hills of the California countryside will roll with the thunderous sound of GT3 machinery on March 5-7 when the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS season opens at Sonoma Raceway.

With the return of the all-Pro competition class ushering in four teams, the first rounds of competition will see fourteen driver pairs manning machinery from six different manufacturers, the majority of which have already committed to the global Manufacturer Championship title chase.

Sonoma Raceway’s picturesque 12-turn road course, a favorite among drivers, offers a rare chance for record-breaking as the early-calendar appearance during the waning California winter teases cooler track temps. The 2.385-mile circuit also features a 160-foot elevation change, with much of that descent in the sweeping left-hander of Turn 6.

The Pro Class Returns

As Pro pairings get the green light once again, what was once old is now new again, but this time with a twist. Longtime competitors and local Sonoma heroes K-PAX Racing return under a new Manufacturer flag as the team fields a pair of Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos this season. Marque specialists Corey Lewis (former Lamborghini Super Trofeo Champion) and Giovanni Venturini (former International GT Open champion) will helm the #3 K-PAX entry. The #6 car sees two SRO-family champions behind the wheel with 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour champion Jordan Pepper sharing duties with GT World Challenge Europe title-holder Andrea Caldarelli.

Winward Racing comes back to the series fold this year in another bid for a Championship title, this time in the Pro Class. The team’s efforts garnered them a second-place spot in the Teams championship that they hope to better this year. Russell Ward returns to his spot behind the wheel of the #33 Mercedes-AMG GT3, with new co-driver Brit Philip Ellis looking to help take the pair through their upward trajectory.

Also returning are BMW fliers Turner Motorsports. The Turner team last put in a season-long effort in 2019’s Am Championship and also earned the 2nd place position by the end of the year. For this year’s run in the #96 BMW F13 M6 GT3, Turner Motorsports have enlisted 2020 Pirelli GT4 America SprintX ProAm Champions Michael Dinan and Robby Foley. The pair had a stellar run in the series last year and fought a fierce season-long battle to take the title home with a mere two-point margin.

Highly-contested Pro-Am Field Excited to Take the Grid

The competition heats up in the Pro-Am class, and DXDT Racing is bringing strength in numbers. Its three-tier effort in Pro-Am is spearheaded with two familiar cars - the #04 and #63 Mercedes-AMG GT3s and the drivers most familiar with them. In the #04, George Kurtz and Colin Braun, fresh off their hard-fought Pro-Am Championship bid that saw them end the year in second place, return for another chance to take themselves to the top. Team principal David Askew also returns with co-driver Ryan Dalziel to man the #63 car; their Pro-Am efforts garnered a fourth-place finish in the driver’s standings and helped elevate the team to a scant six points away from the top spot in the Teams Championship.

Joining the DXDT camp this year in its third entry is the pair of Erin Vogel and Michael Cooper, driving the #19 Mercedes. The two ran a Pirelli GT4 America campaign in 2020, Vogel sharing driving duties in a McLaren with multi-class champion Cooper, and now look to turn that experience into more hardware and podium appearances.

Longtime Porsche practitioners Wright Motorsports bring back their Am champion Fred Poordad and pair him with Belgian driving wizard Jan Heylen to contest the Pro-Am series this season behind the wheel of the #20 911 GT3-R (991.II), the only entry to fly the Porsche flag at Sonoma.

Also making the inter-series transition into GT3 are teammates Frank Gannett and Drew Staveley. The Ian Lacy Racing drivers go from single-driver duties in GT4 America, where Pro Staveley managed a second-place overall and Gannett earned an eight-place finish in Am, to co-driving the #12 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 entry.

Following a similar path, Jeff Burton and Vesko Kozarov step out of their respective GT4 roles and share the seat behind the wheel of the #91 Rearden Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3. In spite of the class and platform changes, both drivers have history with their new marque, giving them what they hope is an advantage in a mixed field of GT3 veterans and newcomers.

Another team running Lamborghini gear with an extended series history is TR3 racing. Am Ziad Ghandour returns with Lamborghini factory pilot Giacomo Altoe to take the #240 Huracan GT3 through its paces and potentially to the top of the podium.

Team titleholder Racers Edge Motorsports returns with its #93 Acura NSX GT3, this time contested by GT Academy graduates Taylor Hagler, who previously competed in SRO’s Touring Car category, and Dakota Dickerson, the young open-wheel ace from San Diego.

Finally, the once and now-again Acura flag-flying team of Compass Racing will unleash its #77 NSX GT3 on the track with up-and-comer Rodrigo Sales and Honda Performance Development engineer and driver Matt McMurry.

New-to-the-series team AF Corse, the renowned European Ferrari competitors, have crossed the pond and have brought Ferrari Challenge veterans Jean-Claude Saada and Conrad Grunewald to tackle the field at Sonoma and set the pace for Am pairings in the series. Look for them to shake up the grid and put themselves on the map in contention for the checkered flag.

Catch Every Second of the Action

The season opens with Official Practice on March 5th at 10:30 am PT. Due to local health and safety regulations, public attendance is prohibited but fans still have options to catch all the racing excitement of the season opener. 

Qualifying and all races will be livestreamed for free on the GT World YouTube channel, in addition to audio simulcasts on Sirius XM Radio Channel 382 (992 on the web/app). CBS Sports Network’s highlights and live racing package premieres Sunday, March 7th at 4:00 pm ET. The weekend schedule, live timing and scoring, as well as session reports and one-stop video viewing, is available at gt-world-challenge-america.com.

Don’t forget to get up-to-the minute updates on series social channels at @gtworldchallengeamerica on Facebook and Instagram and @gtworldcham on Twitter.

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SONOMA Event Schedule - PDF