Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch allowed no room for error while hosting the first Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West by Yokohama weekend of the year.
In a thrilling pair of races featuring four classes – Porsche 992 GT3 Cup Pro/Am, 992 GT3 Cup Am, 991, GT3 Cup and Cayman GT4 Clubsport Am – the 2.76-mile configuration challenged all drivers, and consequences of placing a wheel off-track meant a significant loss of track position, plus a cloud of dust from the surrounding Nevada desert terrain.
The battle for the overall lead was a focal point throughout the weekend, featuring impressive driving from both Robert Todd in the No. 252 BR Racing Porsche and Will Wattanawongkiri, the team owner of WRTeknica and driver of the No. 277 Porsche. As the WeatherTech Pole Position Award Winner, Wattanawongkiri led the field to green, but was overtaken by Todd early in the race. Despite losing the lead, the Los Angeles-native kept Todd in his sights and capitalized when the No. 252 Porsche slipped off-track with less than 10 minutes left. With Todd then on his bumper, Wattanawongkiri defended heavily and even withstood a door-to-door move in the final minute to keep the win. Todd’s Porsche sailed into the marbles following his last-lap attempt at the lead, allowing Kyle Washington – the Am class leader – to sneak by and finish second overall, with fellow Am competitors Peter Ludwig and Todd Parriott following suit to round out the Am podium. While Robert Todd dropped to fifth on the overall charts, he maintained second-in-class of Pro/Amdrivers, with Sam Parnagian’s No. 257 Porsche in third.
In the 991 GT3 Cup class, Casey Dennis led flag-to-flag to capture the win in the No. 174 Porsche and taking the Cayman GT4 Clubsport Am victory was Paul Bonderson. Bonderson’s win in the No. 43 Porsche also came as a result of a leader’s misstep, with Michael Gaulke getting tangled on track in the closing 15 minutes to relinquish the lead.
Sunday’s race’s was no exception to Saturday, showcasing lead battles and costly mistakes throughout the 35-minute sprint. The BR Racing team worked overnight to repair Robert Todd’s Porsche from Race 1 and the driver did not let their efforts go to waste. Todd raced polesitter Wattanawongkiri hard in the opening laps, and made a smooth pass within 10 minutes to claim the lead. While Todd would not be challenged for the top spot, Wattanawongkiri suffered a spin late in the race that dropped him to third in the Pro/Am class, with Kenton King and the No. 274 Black Sheep Racing finishing runner-up.
“It went really well,” said Todd. “The team worked all night, honestly. We had a mishap yesterday at the end, broke the steering rack, so they worked really hard during the night and got the car back to a great position. We started second and had an amazing battle with Will. I’ve got to give that guy props – he races clean and I really respect him.” While Kyle Washington scored a nearly seamless Race 1 Am class win the day prior, Sunday featured a back-and-forth fight between him, Peter Ludwig and Laura Ely. Ludwig’s No 211 Porsche leapt from third to first over his two competitors with 10 minutes remaining, but once again a costly off-track excursion dropped the leader down the charts.The battle between Washington and Ely then commenced, as Ely took the lead with five minutes remaining in her No. 209 Porsche. However, she too spun just minutes later, allowing Washington to drive by and sweep the Am victories at Spring Mountain. Ely held on to third and Ludwig fourth, while Dmitri Novikov stole second place. Also sweeping the weekend was Casey Dennis in the 991 GT3 Cup class, while Paul Bonderson and
Michael Gaulke swapped spots in the Cayman GT4 Clubsport class, leaving Gaulke on top in Sunday’s race and both drivers collecting a win this weekend.
Porsche Sprint Challenge packs up in Nevada and quickly travels to Barber Motorsports Park for the series’ next North American championship doubleheader. After opening the season in March at Sebring International Raceway, PSCNA returns to action this upcoming weekend for Rounds 3 and 4, which run as part of the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Alabama weekend. On Saturday, April 29, Race 1 for Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport is scheduled for 12:20 p.m. ET, with the first race for Porsche GT3 Cup following at 4:35 p.m. The final pair of races are set for Sunday at 8 a.m. for Cayman GT4 Clubsport and 8:55 a.m. for GT3 Cup. Sonoma Raceway will host the next event for Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West by Yokohama on June16 – 18.
All Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama races stream live on FloSports, in addition to the series’ YouTube channel. More information can also be found at www.porschesprint.com and on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.