2019 was the thirtieth consecutive year for the World Challenge series. In the offseason, the Grand Touring Sport category was renamed, Pirelli GT4 America. The new title did a better job of describing this category as the cars were prepared to the FIA GT4 rulebook. Due to the popularity of this class, series officials offered are two regional championships for SprintX competitors – East and West.

As a result of the announcements, there are four different event schedules:

  • Sprint Schedule – The calendar starts with races at St. Petersburg, Florida in March followed by Long Beach, California. Teams return to the east coast where they will compete at Virginia International Raceway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Then they travel to California for an event at Sonoma Raceway. On the Labour Day weekend, competitors will race at Watkins Glen International. The penultimate rounds are at Road America with the season concluding at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October.
  • SprintX Schedule – This season starts at Circuit of the Americas and then shares weekends with the Sprint group at Virginia International Raceway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Sonoma Raceway. The division remains on the west coast for an event at Portland International Raceway. The SprintX teams then rejoin the Sprint category for the final three weekends - Watkins Glen International, Road America and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
  • GT4 West Schedule – This schedule kicks-off at Circuit of the Americas. Then teams travel to the west coast with race weekends at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Sonoma Raceway, Portland International and Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the finale.
  • GT4 East Schedule – The eastern division also debuts at Circuit of the Americas. This weekend is followed by Virginia International Raceway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Watkins Glen with the season ending at Road America.

Cars competing in the Pirelli GT4 America category are similar to those the Blancpain GT World Challenge America class but have more preparation restrictions and are governed by FIA GT4 rules. The vehicles can be powered by forced induction or normally aspirated motors. Examples of car competing in this category include: Chevrolet Camaro GT4, McLaren 570S GT4, Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR, Porsche 718 Cayman CS-MR, Audi R8 LMS GT4, Ginetta G55 GT4, BMW M4 GT4 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Panoz Avezzano GT4 and SIN R1 GT4.

In early June races were conducted at Sonoma Raceway for the Pirelli GT4 America SprintX / GT4 West divisions. Fourteen teams competed in the two sixty-minute races around the twelve-turn, 2.52-mile road course.

Late Saturday afternoon and fourteen competitors charge up the hill into Sonoma Raceway’s turn two for the first race of the weekend. In the lead is the pole-winning Mercedes-AMG GT4 driven by Christian Szymczak. Directly behind Szymczak is the Reardon Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 of the other front row starter, Vesko Kozarov. Behind these two are the BMW M4 GT4s of Kris Wilson and Jon Miller.
Vesko Kozarov and his teammate, Jeff Burton entered rounds five and six of the SprintX West Amateur division second in the standings. They opened the season with a victory in race one at COTA but didn’t collect any points the following day when Burton crashed on the first lap. At Sonoma, the duo was back on form. In the first contest, they captured the overall victory. Day two saw them finish eighth overall but second in their group.
Driving the Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 this weekend were Christian Szymczak and the team owner’s son, Kenny Murillo. This was the first race for the pair in the SprintX West Pro/Am division. Szymczak would start the first race from the pole but could not hold off a hard-charging Vesko Kozarov. The duo finished third overall but first in class. In addition to winning their category on Sunday, they also captured the overall victory.
Jarrett Andretti’s performance of late caused series officials to adjust his Driver Ranking from Amateur to Professional. Another change was Andretti’s driving partner. He started the season sharing the No. 36 McLaren 570S GT4 with Karl Thompson. At this event, his co-driver would be Collin Mullan. Mullan’s racing resume includes a win in the 2018 IMSA ST category. This new pairing earned a victory and runner-up finish at Sonoma.
World Challenge/SRO veteran, James Sofronas and Jason Bell shared the No. 2 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4. Sofronas started his season at Virginia International Raceway where his co-driver was CJ Moses. The pair scored second and fifth place finishes in the SprintX Amateur category. In round seven at Sonoma Raceway, they finished ninth overall but won their class. On Sunday, the duo was second in their group and seventh overall.
Round eight’s podium for the GT4 America SprintX Amateur category at Sonoma Raceway. On the left from GMG Racing are the runner-up finishers and Saturday’s winners, Jason Bell and James Sofronas. On the opposite side of the rostrum are Kris Wilson and John Allen from Auto Technic Racing. In the center for the second time this season, are the drivers of the No. 51 Panoz Avezzano GT4, Preston Calvert and Matthew Keegan.
Preston Calvert and Matthew Keegan had a pair of top finishes (first and third) in the season-opening rounds at COTA. But since then, their results had not landed them on the podium. On Saturday at Sonoma Raceway, Calvert was leading the Amateur category when an incident with Matt Travis caused him to spin. Damage to the Panoz Avezzano GT4 caused them to retire. In round eight, the team bounced back and won their class.
SprintX Pro/Am competitors, Greg Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan drove the Stephen Cameron Racing prepared BMW M4 GT4. Consistently finishing in the top-five and a victory in the SprintX Pro/Am category at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park placed them second in the standings. It was another great weekend at Sonoma Raceway. On Saturday, they earned their second win of the season and the next day the duo was third.
Until race six at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Jason Hart and Matt Travis had a perfect record – five starts and five victories. Contact in round six took them out of contention. The SprintX Pro/Am pairing appeared to be back on form at Sonoma Raceway until Travis made contact with Preston Calvert and was penalized. Hart charged back to finish third in class. On Sunday, they finished fourth overall and second in their group.
Another pair of drivers having an excellent weekend was Harry Gottsacker and Jon Miller. Driving the No. 28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4, the pair was the point’s leaders in the SprintX West Pro/Am group. In the first four races of the season, they had three victories. However, the pair would be challenged by Christian Szymczak and Kenny Murillo. Unable to maintain the pace set by Szymczak and Murillo, they earned two second-place finishes.
The No.67 Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR was prepared by TRG – Racers Group and driven by Kevin Woods and Chris Bellomo. The pair led the SprintX West Amateur category after victories at Circuit of the Americas and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. At Sonoma Raceway, the duo scored second and third place finishes in their class. Unfortunately, this was not enough to maintain the points lead and they fell to second behind Kozarov and Burton.
The GT4 SprintX West Pro/Am rostrum for round six at Sonoma Raceway. In the center, scoring the overall and class victory are Murillo Racing’s Christian Szymczak and Kenny Murillo. To the left of Szymczak and Murillo are the runner-ups from ST Racing, Harry Gottsacker and Jon Miller. Completing the podium and also from ST Racing are Samantha Tan and Jason Wolfe.

FINISHCLASSDRIVERENTRANT / CARLAPS
1GT4 West - Am/AmBurton / KozarovRearden Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT430
2GT4 - Pro/AmLiefooghe / QuinlanStephen Cameron Racing / BMW M4 GT430
3GT4 West - Pro/AmMurillo / SzymczakMurillo Racing / Mercedes-AMG GT430
4GT4 - Pro/AmAndretti / MullanAndretti Autosport / McLaren 570S GT430
5GT4 - Pro/AmTravis / HartNOLASPORT / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR30
6GT4 West - Pro/AmGottsacker / MillerST Racing / BMW M4 GT430
7GT4 West - Am/AmBellomo / WoodsTRG - The Racers Group / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR30
8GT4 West - Pro/AmTrinkler / CattaneoRearden Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT430
9GT4 - Am/AmBell / SofronasGMG Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT430
10GT4 West - Pro/AmBader / DennisUSRD / Ginetta G5530
11GT4 West - Pro/AmWolfe / TanST Racing / BMW M4 GT429
12GT4 - Am/AmAllen / WilsonAuto Technic Racing / BMW M4 GT423
NCGT4 West - Am/AmDeBoer / RappaportTRG - The Racers Group / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR20
NCGT4 - Am/AmCalvert / KeeganTeam Panoz Racing / Panoz Avezzano GT410

FINISHCLASSDRIVERENTRANT / CARLAPS
1GT4 West - Pro/AmMurillo / SzymczakMurillo Racing / Mercedes-AMG GT432
2GT4 - Am/AmCalvert / KeeganTeam Panoz Racing / Panoz Avezzano GT432
3GT4 - Pro/AmAndretti / MullanAndretti Autosport / McLaren 570S GT432
4GT4 - Pro/AmTravis / HartNOLASPORT / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR32
5GT4 West - Pro/AmGottsacker / MillerST Racing / BMW M4 GT432
6GT4 - Pro/AmLiefooghe / QuinlanStephen Cameron Racing / BMW M4 GT432
7GT4 - Am/AmBell / SofronasGMG Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT432
8GT4 West - Am/AmBurton / KozarovRearden Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT432
9GT4 West - Pro/AmWolfe / TanST Racing / BMW M4 GT432
10GT4 West - Pro/AmTrinkler / CattaneoRearden Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT432
11GT4 - Am/AmAllen / WilsonAuto Technic Racing / BMW M4 GT432
12GT4 West - Am/AmDeBoer / RappaportTRG - The Racers Group / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR32
13GT4 West - Am/AmBellomo / WoodsTRG - The Racers Group / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR31
14GT4 West - Pro/AmBader / DennisUSRD / Ginetta G5525

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