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.

Rounds four and five of the 2019 GT4 America Sprint season was contested at Virginia International Raceway. Twenty-one teams competed in the two fifty-minute races around the seventeen-turn 3.270-mile road course.

The first lap of round five for the GT4 America Sprint championship at Virginia International Raceway. The second-place starter, Jarrett Andretti driving the Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4 leads a field of twenty-one-competitors through the turn five and six complex. Behind Andretti is Saturday’s winner and the pole-sitter, Matthew Fassnacht driving a Mercedes-AMG GT4 and the Porsche of Spencer Pumpelly.
There were a couple of storylines in the GT4 America Sprint division at Virginia International Raceway. One of the highlights was the performance of Matthew Fassnacht. Fassnacht driving the Murillo Racing prepared Mercedes-AMG GT4 was quick from the beginning of the weekend, often recording faster times than the PROs. In both of the weekend’s events, the 2017 Touring Car A champion started on the front row and grabbed the victory.
The other headline at Virginia International Raceway were the number of tire failures. Long Beach winner, Spencer Pumpelly had two flat tires in the Saturday’s contest and another the following day. In race one, Ian James and Michael Dinan were also taken out of contention with punctures. On Sunday, Jarrett Andretti was leading when he suffered a similar fate. The issue was attributed to the ‘curb hopping’ by some drivers.
Jarrett Andretti drove the No. 18 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S GT4. He qualified ninth overall and fourth quickest in the AM group for round four. At the finish, Andretti was the class runner-up. He also recorded the second fastest time during the race which put him on the front row for the start of Sunday’s contest. Andretti jumped into the lead and controlled the race until lap-19 when he retired with a flat tire.
The three-time World Challenge champion, Michael Cooper, returned to the Blackdog Speed Shop team. The Blackdog team which had long been associated with General Motors vehicles would be campaigning the McLaren 570S GT4 in 2019. Competing in the PRO category, Cooper started race one in sixth place but avoided the tire issues and captured the class victory. On Sunday, he was gridded eighth and took the final spot on the podium.
Sunday’s GT4 America Sprint Amateur class podium at Virginia International Raceway. In the center for the second time, this weekend is the winner, Matthew Fassnacht. Not only did Fassnacht claim the class victory but he took the overall win as well. To Fassnacht’s right is the 2018 SprintX GTS Amateur champion and runner-up, Drew Staveley. Completing the rostrum is Precision Driving Tech driver, Marko Radisic.
Former Trans-Am competitor, Gar Robinson joined the World Challenge series in 2018. He and his teammate, Shane Robinson started the year in a Mercedes but mid-season they switched to the Camaro. It appeared to be the right decision as the team’s fortunes improved. At Virginia International Raceway, Robinson earned a first and second in the Professional category but more importantly, he moved into a tie for the points lead.
Entering the Virginia International Raceway weekend, the GT4 America Sprint points leader was Ian James. He was driving the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4. On lap-11 of race one, James was running third when he had a puncture. James returned to the track and finished twentieth – failing to score points. The following day, he finished third but was now tied with Gar Robinson for the lead in the championship.
Ian Lacy Racing was one of many teams to switch vehicle brands. The team’s driver, Drew Stavely, won the 2018 SprintX GTS Amateur championship in a Ginetta G55 but this year he is racing a Ford Mustang GT4. Still competing in the Amateur category, Staveley started the weekend’s first race seventh overall but finished third in class. On Sunday, he was gridded in the tenth position and earned the runner-up spot in his division.
The No. 22 Precision Driving Tech BMW M4 GT4 was pulling double duty. Sharing the BMW in the GT4 America SprintX event were Marko Radisic and Karl Wittmer. The car served its drivers well this weekend. In Saturday’s SprintX race, Radisic and Wittmer took the win in PRO/AM – East, their first of the season. The BMW was also entered in GT4 America Sprint where Radisic earned a third-place finish in the Amateur class.
Gar Robinson’s teammate, Shane Lewis drove the No. 72 74 Ranch sponsored Chevrolet Camaro GT4. The sports car veteran, Robinson participated in the 1996 SCCA World Challenge series driving a Mosler Intruder and finished second in the S2 category. This weekend at Virginia International Raceway, he was competing in the GT4 America Professional class and earned third and fourth place finishes in his group.
Saturday’s GT4 America Sprint Professional class podium at Virginia International Raceway. In the center from the Blackdog Speed Shop team is the class winner, Michael Cooper. To Cooper’s right is the runner-up, Gar Robinson. Robinson’s results during the weekend moved him into a tie for the point’s lead with Panoz driver, Ian James. Completing the rostrum is Robinson’s Robinson Racing teammate, Shane Lewis.

12AMMatthew FassnachtMurillo Racing / Mercedes-AMG GT426
26PROMichael CooperBlackdog Speed Shop / McLaren 570S GT426
34PROGar RobinsonRobinson Racing / Chevrolet Camaro GT426
45PROShane LewisRobinson Racing / Chevrolet Camaro GT426
59AMJarett AndrettiAndretti Autosport / McLaren 570S GT426
67AMDrew StaveleyIan Lacy Racing / Ford Mustang GT426
712AMMarko RadisicPrecision Driving Tech / BMW M4 GT426
810PRONicolai ElghanayanMarco Polo Motorsports / KTM X-bow26
913AMJeff BurtonRearden Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT426
1016AMSean QuinlanStephen Cameron Racing / BMW M4 GT426
1121AMTony GaplesBlackdog Speed Shop / McLaren 570S GT426
1219AMDmitri NovikovRearden Racing / BMW M4 GT426
1317AMChris OhmachtClassic BMW / BMW M4 GT426
1420AMMark KleninKPR / McLaren 570S GT425
1522AMFrank GannettIan Lacy Racing / Ford Mustang GT425
1614AMThomas CollingwoodBGB Motorsports / Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR25
178AMAlan BrynjolssonPark Place Motorsports / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR25
1815AMJason BellGMG Racing / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR25
191PROSpencer PumpellyTRG - The Racers Group / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR25
203PROIan JamesTeam Panoz Racing / Panoz Avezzano GT423
NC18AMMichael DinanFlying Lizard Motorsports / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR17
911PROMichael McCannMcCann Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT414

11AMMatthew FassnachtMurillo Racing / Mercedes-AMG GT424
27PROGar RobinsonRobinson Racing / Chevrolet Camaro GT424
34PROIan JamesTeam Panoz Racing / Panoz Avezzano GT424
48PROMichael CooperBlackdog Speed Shop / McLaren 570S GT424
59PROShane LewisRobinson Racing / Chevrolet Camaro GT424
610AMDrew StaveleyIan Lacy Racing / Ford Mustang GT424
75PRONicolai ElghanayanMarco Polo Motorsports / KTM X-bow24
86AMMarko RadisicPrecision Driving Tech / BMW M4 GT424
913AMSean QuinlanStephen Cameron Racing / BMW M4 GT424
1011AMJeff BurtonRearden Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT424
1116AMThomas CollingwoodBGB Motorsports / Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR24
1217AMTony GaplesBlackdog Speed Shop / McLaren 570S GT424
1315AMChris OhmachtClassic BMW / BMW M4 GT424
1414AMJason BellGMG Racing / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR24
1523AMHenry SchmittStephen Cameron Racing / BMW M4 GT424
1612AMAlan BrynjolssonPark Place Motorsports / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR24
1718AMMark KleninKPR / McLaren 570S GT421
1820AMFrank GannettIan Lacy Racing / Ford Mustang GT420
1919AMDmitri NovikovRearden Racing / BMW M4 GT419
202AMJarett AndrettiAndretti Autosport / McLaren 570S GT418
NC3PROSpencer PumpellyTRG - The Racers Group / Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR10

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