The 2017 edition of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge consisted of ten events (Daytona, Sebring, Circuit of the Americas, Watkins Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), Lime Rock, Road America, Virginia International Raceway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta) for showroom stock cars. Most races were 2-hours in length. The cars were relatively unchanged from their road going versions – modifications were mandated primarily for safety – roll cages, window nets, etc. They were also required to use tires provided by series sponsor Continental.

Based on performance potential, the cars are divided into one of two groups – Grand Sport or Street Tuner:

  • Grand Sport (GS): This category underwent some changes in 2017. The new rules accepted cars prepared to the SRO (Stephane Ratel Organisation) GT4 technical requirements while including vehicles that competed in the 2016 championship. The quicker of the two groups, this class includes cars such as the Ford Mustang GT4, Aston Martin Vantage, Nissan 370Z and Porsche Cayman GT4. Vehicles competing in this group produce between 400 - 500 horsepower and are capable of speeds over 175-mph.

  • Street Tuner (ST): This class is for smaller sedans and sports cars with four or six-cylinder engines. Vehicles racing in this group include the BMW 328i, Porsche Cayman, Mazda MX-5, Nissan Altima, Audi S3 and MINI JCW. The cars in Street Tuner produce between 220 – 280-horsepower.

Close competitive racing with cars that fans could relate to contributed to the popularity of the series. It also provided an environment for automotive manufacturers to test and showcase their products.

The Watkins Glen race was the fourth event of the 2017 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season. Thirty-five entries started the two-hour race on the 3.337-mile eleven-turn road course.

Torrential rains and the threat of lightning stopped the race for approximately thirty minutes. With clear skies, the contest was restarted and drivers competed in a twelve-minute sprint to the finish.

The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competitors enter Watkins Glen’s final turn for the start of round four. Starting on the pole is the Compass 360 Racing McLaren shared by Paul Holton and Matt Plumb. On the outside of the front row is the Ford Mustang driven by Jack Roush Jr. and Dean Martin. Thirty-five cars (fourteen Grand Sport entries and twenty-one Street Tuner entries) would start the two-hour race.
The overall and Grand Sport class podium at Watkins Glen. To the left are the runner-up’s Nico Rondet and Matthew Keegan from the Compass 360 Racing team. And, on the right are their teammates and third place finishers – Paul Holton and Matt Plumb. In the center, are the victors – scoring their first win of the season are Jack Roush Jr. and Dean Martin.
Entering the Watkins Glen round, Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels led the Grand Sport driver standings. The duo driving the Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 won the opening round at Daytona. The Porsche was gridded tenth for the start. Hindman and Cassels turned in a solid performance and took advantage of their competitor’s misfortune to finish fourth.
Winners of the season’s first Street Tuner race at Daytona were Derek Jones and Mat Pombo driving the MINI JCW Team MINI. They were the second fastest qualifiers in their category. In the last twelve minutes of the race, Pombo led his brother Mark and was able to hold him off for his second victory of the season. He and Jones were the first team to score two wins in 2017.
Sharing the front row with the pole-winning C360R McLaren was the KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang driven by Jack Roush Jr. and Dean Martin. Martin started third after the final caution but a mistake by the race leader, Matt Plumb elevated him to second. He put pressure of the first place Aston Martin driven Al Carter and forced him to make a mistake. Martin and Carter made contact which allowed the Ford to move out front and take the win.
The No. 76 C360R prepared McLaren GT4 driven by Paul Holton qualified on the pole for the Continental Tire 120. Not only was this Holton’s second consecutive pole but he broke the lap record for the Grand Sport class by 2.936-seconds. Sharing the driving responsibilities with Holton was Matt Plumb. Plumb was in the lead with less than fifteen minutes left in the event when he made a mistake. Unable to recover, he finished third.
The nine fastest Grand Sport competitors set qualifying times under the previous record set by Scott Maxwell. Eclipsing the 2016 lap record by just 0.004-seconds were the ninth place starters, Nico Rondet and Mathew Keegan. The No. 77 McLaren was in fourth after the final caution. An error by their teammate moved them to third and with two laps remaining an incident between the first and second place cars promoted them to a runner-up finish.
Not to be outdone, the Street Tuner pole-sitter, Nick Galante broke the lap record by 0.17-seconds in the RS1 Porsche Cayman. Galante and his teammate, Spencer Pumpelly also led the Street Tuner driver’s point standings. Unfortunately for Galante and Pumpelly, it was not to be their day. An incident caused them to fall five laps behind the leaders – they finished fifteenth in class and lost their point’s lead.
Tyler Cooke and James Clay shared the No. 84 BimmerWorld Racing prepared BMW 328i. They were gridded third in the Street Tuner category. Early in the event, the BMW lost the left front wheel but the car was able to return to the pits for a replacement. Not losing too much time Cooke and Clay were able to move through the field and finish eighteenth overall and ninth in class.
The MINI JCW Team entered three MINIs in round four at Watkins Glen. The No. 52 MINI was shared by Mark Pombo and Jared Salinsky. They qualified twenty-eighth overall and fourteenth in Street Tuner. The pair was able to climb through the field despite their poor starting position. After the final caution, Pombo was in second chasing his brother Mat for the lead. Unable to pass, he finished 0.770-seconds behind the winners.
Second in the Street Tuner standings were Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss. The pair drove to victory in the previous round at Circuit of the Americas in the Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman. They would start the Continental Tire 120 in fourth. On Friday, Mosing was involved in an accident during the Porsche GT3 Cup race which sent him to the hospital. Cleared to compete on Saturday, he and his teammate, Foss finished third and moved into the class points lead.
The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Street Tuner podium at Watkins Glen International. On the left are second place finishers Mark Pombo and Jared Salinsky and at the right are Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss. Mosing and Foss’ third place result moved them into the class point’s lead. In the center, earning their second win of the season are MINI JCW Team drivers, Mat Pombo and Derek Jones..

1GSD. Martin / J. Roush Jr.Ford Mustang43-
2GSM. Keegan / N. RondetMcLaren GT443-
3GSP. Holton / M. PlumbMcLaren GT443-
4GSC. Cassels / T. HindmanPorsche Cayman GT443-
5GST. Giovanis / G. CosmoPorsche Cayman GT4 MR43-
6GSC. Lawrence / C. QuintonPorsche Cayman GT443-
7GSS. Phillips / A. CarterAston Martin Vantage43-
8GSM. Miller / T. BechtolsheimerPorsche Cayman GT443-
9GSD. Machavern / D. MurcottPorsche Cayman GT4 MR43-
10STD. Jones / M. PomboMINI JCW42-
11STJ. Salinsky / M. PomboMINI JCW42-
12STJ. Mosing / E. FossPorsche Cayman42-
13STA. Carbonell / L. DwyerMazda MX-542-
14STM. LaMarra / J. VanceMINI JCW42-
15STC. Szymczak / C. StonePorsche Cayman42-
16STA. Balogh / G. LiefoogheBMW 328i42-
17STA. Straus / C. BloumPorsche Cayman42-
18STJ. Clay / T. CookeBMW 328i42-
19STD. Jones / D. KemperPorsche Cayman42-
20STC. McCumbee / S. McAleerMazda MX-542-
21GSJ. Lazare / C. GreenMcLaren GT441-
22STM. Johnson / S. SimpsonBMW 228i41-
23STM. Dicken / C. LewisPorsche Cayman41-
24STB. Mosing / T. ProbertPorsche Cayman40-
25STS. Pumpelly / N. GalantePorsche Cayman37-
26STB. Casey Jr / M. FassnachtMazda MX-535-
27GSM. Bell / R. LiddellChevrolet Camaro GT4.R33-
28GSR. Ward / D. FaulknerPorsche Cayman GT432-
29STA. Isman / A. LauziereMINI JCW32-
30STJ. Riley / AJ RileyMazda MX-526-
31GSK. Wilden / R. RandallMcLaren GT424-
31STS. Cattaneo / O. TrinklerNissan Altima21-
33GST. Giovanis / H. PlumbPorsche Cayman GT4 MR18-
34STD. Askew / A. PovoledoPorsche Cayman15-
35STR. Block / P. KleinubingAudi S315-
36GSA. Brynjolfsson / C. HallMcLaren GT40Did Not Start

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