2015 was the twenty-sixth consecutive year for the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Pirelli World Challenge series. There were twelve race weekends – at some of these events, the series shared the venue with IndyCar and the United Sportscar Championship. On the other weekends the World Challenge championship served as the feature event.

For the first time, the season opened in early March at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The second event of the season, in support of the IndyCar series, was at Saint Petersburg - in previous years St. Pete marked the start of the championship. Following Saint Petersburg were races at Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Detroit, Road America, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Miller Motorsport Park, Sonoma Raceway and the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

In 2015, the series introduced two new classes – Grand Touring Sportsman (GTA) and GT Cup (GTC). Drivers and teams were now vying for titles in seven categories.

  • Grand Touring (GT) – This is the series quickest class and is predominantly cars that would compete in the FIA GT3 category. Examples of vehicles racing in this group include: Acura TLX-GT, Aston Martin Vantage V12, Porsche 911 GT3 R, Nissan GT-R GT3, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, McLaren 650S GT3, Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3, Bentley Continental GT3, BMW Z4 GT3, Audi R8 LMS, Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 and Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
  • Grand Touring Sportsman (GTA) – This class includes the same vehicles as GT. However, the drivers are not considered professionals. Competitors in this category are evaluated after each event and based on their performance may be elevated to the GT class.
  • GT Cup (GTC) – This is a spec class for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
  • Grand Touring Sport (GTS) – The cars in this group are similar to the GT vehicles but have additional preparation restrictions. This class is mainly comprised of Ford (Mustang Boss 302), Chevrolet (Camaro Z28) and Porsche (Cayman) products. In 2015, the GTS category witnessed an influx of new manufacturers: Maserati Gran Turismo, Lotus Evora GT4 and Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
  • Touring Car (TC) – This class is for smaller sedans and sports cars which are allowed some performance modifications. Examples of vehicles competing in this group include: Honda Accord, Mazda MX-5, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Jetta, Nissan 370Z and Porsche Boxster.
  • Touring Car A (TCA) – Many of the cars competing in this class are the same as those found in Touring Car. What sets them apart is the minimum amount of modifications that can be made – most changes are to improve the safety of the vehicles.
  • Touring Car B (TCB) - The slowest of all the World Challenge categories is based on the Sports Car Club of America’s B-Spec class. Examples of vehicles competing in TCB include: Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and Mini Cooper.

Rounds one and two of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge series was held at Circuit of the Americas. Titled the 2015 Nissan Grand Prix of Texas brought to you by Motul, drivers in the Grand Touring category would compete in two fifty-minute races around the twenty-turn 3.4-mile road course.

The Grand Touring field exits the first corner for round one of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge Championship. The pole-sitter, Nick Catsburg in the No. 25 Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 is about to lose the lead to the fourth fastest qualifier, Ryan Dalziel in the No. 31 Effort Racing Porsche 911 GT3R. Just behind this pair are former Corvette teammates, Olivier Beretta (Ferrari) and Johnny O’Connell (Cadillac).
Sports car veteran, Olivier Beretta spent eight seasons with the factory Corvette team. In 2015, Beretta joined Pirelli World Challenge Series driving a Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia for Remo Ferri Motorsports. He opened the season by qualifying third for race one. A penalty for the leader, Nick Catsburg elevated Beretta to second and then a pass on Ryan Dalziel gave him first place and the win. On Sunday, Beretta finished eighth.
One of the many drivers making their series debut at the Circuit of the Americas was McLaren factory driver, Kevin Estre. In Saturday’s event, Estre started second in the K-Pax Racing McLaren 650S GT3 but was passed at the start and never recovered – he finished fourth. Rain the following day worked to his advantage. Estre moved from fourth to first on lap-1 and pulled away from the field to score the victory.
Unknown to North American sports car racing fans, Nick Catsburg was very successful in the European Blancpain Endurance series. In round one, Catsburg put the No. 25 Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 on the pole but a drive-through penalty for a blend line violation dropped him from contention – he finished tenth. Catsburg started from the pole the following day and captured the final position on the podium.
Michael Lewis entered the Pirelli World Challenge series with an impressive racing resume. Lewis’ most recent success was a third place in the final standings and the rookie title in the 2014 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Championship. Entered in the Grand Touring A (GTA) category for sportsmen, he qualified twelfth overall and first in his category. Lewis won the class and finished fifth overall. On Sunday, he scored another GTA victory.
Effort Racing entered two Porsche 911 GTRs. The No. 31 Porsche was driven by Ryan Dalziel. Dalziel started the season by qualifying fourth but jumped into an early lead. With two laps remaining in the race, he lost first place to Olivier Beretta and settled for the runner-up position. Dalziel was gridded third for Sunday’s contest but passed Johnny O’Connell and Nick Catsburg to earn another second-place finish.
In 2015, Colin Thompson moved from the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup series to the Pirelli World Challenge Championship. Entered in the GT Cup category, Thompson swept the weekend’s results sheets. In addition to starting on the class pole and leading flag-to-flag, Thompson won the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger of the Race and MOMO Turning Point of the GT Cup Race Awards.
Cadillac entered two cars prepared to GT3 specifications. The No. 3 Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 was driven by three-time World Challenge GT Champion, Johnny O’Connell. In round one, O’Connell went from eighth to fourth at the start and inherited third place when the pole-sitter, Nick Catsburg was penalized. On Sunday, he started on the outside of the front row but dropped down the race order and finished seventh.
Martin Fuentes from Mexico City drove one of the five beautiful Ferrari 458 Italias entered in the series first weekend of racing. A Grand Touring A driver, Fuentes was gridded twentieth for the start of round one. At the conclusion of the contest, he was eleventh overall and third in class. On a rainy Sunday, Fuentes qualified fourteenth and at the checkered flag was fourth in his group and fifteenth overall.
The No. 7 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 was driven by Christina Nielsen. Nielsen, the daughter of racing driver, Lars-Erik Nielsen made her series debut at Sonoma in 2014. Competing in the Grand Touring A category, she qualified sixth in class but fell off the pace – completing only sixteen laps and finishing sixteenth. It appeared that the wet conditions on Sunday agreed with Nielsen as she earned the final spot on the podium.
Grand Touring A competitor, Henrique Cisneros entered the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge Championship with four years of IMSA racing experience. Driving the MOMO-sponsored Ferrari 458 Italia, Cisneros was gridded fourteenth overall and second in class – he finished fourth in GTA. Cisneros was another driver that excelled in the rain. During Sunday’s race, he advanced six positions and captured the runner-up spot in GTA.
Mexican rookie, Ricardo Perez made an impressive debut. Perez competing in the Grand Touring A category drove the No. 62 Ferrari 458 Italia and qualified second in class and fifteenth overall for race one. At the checker, he was seventh overall and captured the runner-up spot in his category. On Sunday under more challenging conditions, Perez started seventh overall and finished fifth in class.

11GTOlivier BerettaFerrariOntario/Toronto/Alberta/Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia23
22GTRyan DalzielEFFORT Racing/World PMO/Porsche 911 GT3R23
33GTJohnny OConnellCadillac Racing/Cadillac ATS-VR GT323
44GTKevin EstreK-PAX/McLaren 650S GT323
51GTAMichael LewisEFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian/Porsche 911 GT3R23
65GTJD DavisonAE/ReplayXD/Nissan Nismo/Nissan GT-R GT323
72GTARicardo PerezFerrari 458 GT3 Italia23
86GTFrank MontecalvoBayshore Racing/Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT323
97GTMadison SnowAudi Sport Racing/Audi R8 LMS Ultra23
108GTNick CatsburgBlancpain/Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL223
113GTAMartin FuentesFerrari 458 GT3 Italia23
124GTAHenrique CisnerosMOMO/Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia23
139GTJames SofronasGMG Racing/Spyder/Mobil 1/Audi R8 LMS Ultra23
145GTABryan HeitkotterNissan GT Academy GT-R/Nissan GT-R GT323
1510GTMike HedlundFerrari 458 GT3 Italia23
1611GTMike SkeenDeVilbiss/Hawk Performance/Audi R8 LMS Ultra23
1712GTAndy PilgrimCadillac Racing/Cadillac ATS-VR GT323
1813GTChris DysonBentley/Breitling/Mobil 1/Bentley Continental GT323
1914GTRobert ThorneK-PAX/McLaren 650S GT323
206GTAEric LuxRembrandt Charms/Monticello MC/Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT323
217GTADan KnoxACS MFG/Lone Star Racing/Dodge Viper GT3-R23
228GTATimothy PappasMercedes Benz AMG SLS GT323
239GTAMark McKenzieAston Martin Vantage GT323
2410GTAAlex WelchGMG/Audi R8 LMS Ultra23
2511GTABret CurtisSpectra/United Steel Supply/BMW E89 Z4 GT323
2612GTAHenrik HedmanDragonSpeed/MercedesBenzAMG SLS GT323
2713GTAMaximillian VoelkerBlancpain/Lamborghini Gallardo GT322
2814GTABill ZieglerSwisher Racing/BMW E89 Z4 GT322
3016GTAJorge De La TorraAston Martin Vantage GT321
3115GTButch LeitzingerBentley/Breitling/Mobil 1/Bentley Continental GT320
3216GTAChristina NielsenAston Martin Vantage GT316
3317GTAJoseph ToussaintNationalAbilityCntr/Porsche 911 GT3R11
3416GTRyan EversleyRealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD/Acura TLX-GT11
3517GTPeter CunninghamRealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD/Acura TLX-GT7
3618GTAJeff CourtneyKenda/RecStuff.com/Audi R8 LMS Ultra3
3719GTGuy CosmoAudi R8 LMS Ultra2
3820GTDuncan EndeMerchantSrvLTD/Linospresso USA/Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia1
3921GTLou GigliottiLG Motorsports/Aston Martin GT3 V120
401GTCColin ThompsonPorsche of Bucks County/PenVal/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
412GTCSloan UrryEngel & Volkers/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
423GTCAlec Udell/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
434GTCPhil Fogg Jr/Zoro/TruSpeed/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
445GTCLorenzo TrefethenTrefethen Family Vineyards/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
456GTCEduardo CisnerosMOMO/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
467GTCSantiago CreelUNIFIN EZCORP MEXICO/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
478GTCMitch LandryDeep South/VersaCrane/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
489GTCPreston CalvertCalvert Dynamics/PhoenixPerf/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP22
4910GTCVictor GomezPorsche San Juan/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP21

11GTKevin EstreK-PAX/McLaren 650S GT318
22GTRyan DalzielEFFORT Racing/World PMO/Porsche 911 GT3R18
33GTNick CatsburgBlancpain/Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL218
44GTMike SkeenDeVilbiss/Hawk Performance/Audi R8 LMS Ultra18
55GTRyan EversleyRealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD/Acura TLX-GT18
66GTMadison SnowAudi Sport Racing/Audi R8 LMS Ultra18
77GTJohnny OConnellCadillac Racing/Cadillac ATS-VR GT318
88GTOlivier BerettaFerrariOntario/Toronto/Alberta/Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia18
91GTAMichael LewisEFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian/Porsche 911 GT3R18
109GTRobert ThorneK-PAX/McLaren 650S GT318
1110GTJames SofronasGMG Racing/Spyder/Mobil 1/Audi R8 LMS Ultra18
122GTAHenrique CisnerosMOMO/Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia18
133GTAChristina NielsenAston Martin Vantage GT318
1411GTMike HedlundFerrari 458 GT3 Italia18
154GTAMartin FuentesFerrari 458 GT3 Italia18
1612GTJD DavisonAE/ReplayXD/Nissan Nismo/Nissan GT-R GT318
1713GTChris DysonBentley/Breitling/Mobil 1/Bentley Continental GT318
1814GTButch LeitzingerBentley/Breitling/Mobil 1/Bentley Continental GT318
1915GTAndy PilgrimCadillac Racing/Cadillac ATS-VR GT318
205GTARicardo PerezFerrari 458 GT3 Italia18
216GTAMaximillian VoelkerBlancpain/Lamborghini Gallardo GT318
2216GTFrank MontecalvoBayshore Racing/Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT318
237GTABryan HeitkotterNissan GT Academy GT-R/Nissan GT-R GT318
248GTAHenrik HedmanDragonSpeed/MercedesBenzAMG SLS GT318
259GTATimothy PappasMercedes Benz AMG SLS GT317
2617GTDuncan EndeMerchantSrvLTD/Linospresso USA/Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia17
2710GTABret CurtisSpectra/United Steel Supply/BMW E89 Z4 GT317
2811GTAEric LuxRembrandt Charms/Monticello MC/Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT317
2912GTADan KnoxACS MFG/Lone Star Racing/Dodge Viper GT3-R17
3013GTAAlex WelchGMG/Audi R8 LMS Ultra17
3114GTAJoseph ToussaintNationalAbilityCntr/Porsche 911 GT3R17
3215GTAMark McKenzieAston Martin Vantage GT317
3316GTABill ZieglerSwisher Racing/BMW E89 Z4 GT317
3417GTAJorge De La TorraAston Martin Vantage GT311
3518GTAJeff CourtneyKenda/RecStuff.com/Audi R8 LMS Ultra9
3618GTGuy CosmoAudi R8 LMS Ultra1
381GTCColin ThompsonPorsche of Bucks County/PenVal/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP18
392GTCSloan UrryEngel & Volkers/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP18
403GTCAlec Udell/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP18
414GTCPhil Fogg Jr/Zoro/TruSpeed/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP17
425GTCLorenzo TrefethenTrefethen Family Vineyards/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP17
436GTCMitch LandryDeep South/VersaCrane/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP17
447GTCPreston CalvertCalvert Dynamics/PhoenixPerf/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP17
458GTCSantiago CreelUNIFIN EZCORP MEXICO/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP17
469GTCVictor GomezPorsche San Juan/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP17
4710GTCEduardo CisnerosMOMO/Porsche 911 GT3 CUP14

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