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Li and McDonald Duel for Sprint Challenge Victories at Laguna Seca

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For Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West by Yokohama, it was a tale of two races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca during the series’ fourth doubleheader of 2024.

Laguna Seca marked the beginning of the second half of the season, and nearly 25 cars took part in the event weekend, which was headlined by the INDYCAR Series.

At the front of the pack, all eyes were on James Li for Racewerkz and Blake McDonald for BR Racing, competing for the overall 992 GT3 Cup Pro-Am victory. Entering the weekend, Li had scored back-to-back wins, yet McDonald still topped the class’s championship standings.

While Li started second in Race 1 behind his rival, he quickly took the lead on the first lap and drove to a dominant win. However, the rest of the competitors were tested not only by the circuit and its limits but also by each other. 

Several instances involving contact sent drivers spinning, even in the closing minutes, with lapped traffic altering the Pro-Am podium. McDonald ran second throughout the race but, in trying to avoid a collision between slower cars in the Corkscrew, was narrowly overtaken by Casey Dennis for the position and finished third.

Drivers cleaned up their act on Sunday for Race 2, however, which allowed for an entertaining race between McDonald and Li. The latter stalked McDonald as the laps ticked by but pushed a bit too hard midway through the race, taking a spin in the Corkscrew and dropping him down the order. McDonald collected the win with Dennis in second place again, while James Sofronas rounded out the podium in third.

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In the 992 GT3 Cup Masters category, Kevin Woods ran nearly uncontested en route to a weekend sweep. Woods’ dominance came as a result of excellent qualifying efforts. The BR Racing driver started third in Race 1, four cars ahead of his next closest competitor, and fourth in Race 2, with two cars between him and second place.

While Woods could not be reached, Jim Walsh put on one of his best driving performances by clinching runner-up on both Saturday and Sunday in the 992 GT3 Cup Masters class. Steve Miller finished third in Race 1, while Laura Ely recovered from contact and a subsequent spin on Saturday to complete Sunday’s podium.

Bad luck struck twice for Michael Gaulke in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport Masters class, as he was poised for a double victory at Laguna Seca but walked away with two fourth-place finishes. 

After crossing the finish line first in Race 1, Gaulke was penalized for incident responsibility with another competitor that revoked his win. And while leading Race 2, he pulled his Porsche off track on the final lap with an issue, handing the win to Richard Kinsey after the two had previously engaged in a great battle for the lead midway through the race.

Gaulke still keeps his lead in the championship standings, while Kinsey inched closer with two wins this weekend.

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Also maintaining his championship lead was Eli Kogan, who scored both Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport Pro-Am victories at Laguna Seca with four rounds remaining.

Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West by Yokohama takes a summer break from the racetrack before returning to Road America on August 9 – 11 as part of a joint event with its Porsche Sprint Challenge North America counterpart. That series, however, has a trip to Watkins Glen International in upstate New York on July 5 – 7 before heading to Wisconsin.

Porsche Sprint Challenge race replays are available on the Porsche Motorsport North America YouTube Channel.

Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West by Yokohama Official Results: Race 1 and Race 2

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race schedules.
North american SEASON 2024
Roundeventdate
Round 1March 1-3, 2024
Round 2APRIL 26-28, 2024
Round 3MAY 24-26, 2024
Round 4JUNE 14-16, 2024
Round 5JULY 5-7, 2024
Round 6
Road America
AUGUST 9-11, 2024
Round 7
Sonoma Raceway
SEPTEMBER 27-29, 2024
Download full schedule
WEST SEASON 2024
Roundeventdate
Round 1MARCH 29-31, 2024
Round 2MAY 10-12, 2024
Round 3MAY 24-26, 2024
Round 4JUNE 21-23, 2024
Round 5
Road America
AUGUST 9-11, 2024
Round 6
Sonoma Raceway
SEPTEMBER 27-29, 2024
Download full schedule