Preview: 2015 Sonoma Raceway PWC


The penultimate round of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season takes place this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, just a week after the action-packed Miller Motorsports Park rounds.

The Touring Car classes will miss this weekend, and instead look ahead to the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Instead, the GT/GTA/GTC and GTS competitors will face two races, whilst supporting the Verizon IndyCar Series.

GT

The GT drivers’ championship is blown wide open as points leader Ryan Dalziel will miss rounds 18 and 19, instead racing in the World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Nurburgring. He is replaced by Renger van der Zande, who usually drives in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge class.

This gives Johnny O’Connell, who comes to Sonoma following a double victory in Utah, a strong chance of taking the championship lead. Olivier Beretta, meanwhile, was unable to score a top five finish last weekend, and so sits a lonely third. He has, however, won three races so far in the season, and so cannot be counted out.

Always Evolving Racing‘s James Davison finished runner-up in both races last weekend, and will be hoping for some more strong results from fourth in the championship. Behind him is Kevin Estre, who was forced to withdraw from the high-altitude Miller Motorsports Park races last weekend over a Balance of Performance issue.

Johnny O'Connell 2015 PWC Miller
O’Connell now leads the GT standings (Credit: PWC)

GTA

Frank Montecalvo took the lead from second-placed Henrique Cisneros in the amateur GT category following a double victory last time out. Cisneros had led for most of the season but has so far only scored one victory.

Up next in the standings is Martin Fuentes, but the Scuderia Corsa driver is 293 points down and so has a difficult task ahead of him. He sits in third position, ahead of Eric Lux, team-mate to Montecalvo.

GT Cup

The one-make class, new for 2015, has yet to race at Sonoma Raceway, but some drivers have experience of the circuit. Taking his 11th win out of 15 at Miller Motorsports Park, Colin Thompson‘s domination of the category is still apparent.

However, Sloan Urry has had an impressive season, too, with five runner-up finishes to his name so far, granting him second place in the championship, albeit 572 points down on the leader.

Third place is held by Lorenzo Trefethen, who scored his first Pirelli World Challenge win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Phoenix American Motorsports Calvert Sonoma 2015 Miller PWC GTS
Phoenix American Motorsports are second and third in the GTS standings (Credit: MathisenMedia/Phoneix American Motorsports)

GTS

Finally, GTS is now headed by Michael Cooper, who assumed the lead after taking his third win of the season last weekend.

Just 32 points down on the Blackdog Speedshop driver is Andrew Aquilante, who is in turn ahead of team-mate Kurt Rezzetano. Despite their strong championship positions, neither Phoenix American Motorsports driver had a successful weekend in Utah.

A new addition to the 27-car GTS field is Jeff Harrison, who drives the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, as a substitute for WEC driver Jon Fogarty.

Sonoma Raceway

More than 60 cars will tackle one of the United States’ most challenging road courses, famed for its extreme elevation changes and twisty nature.

Located 50 minutes north of San Francisco, Sonoma Raceway was opened in 1968 and has changed minimally since then. Supporting the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Pirelli World Challenge cars will tackle the 2.5 mile Indycar Circuit, which is known for an overall elevation change of 49 metres.

All races will be 50 minutes long, and GTS Race 1 takes place on Saturday at 13:40 local (21:40 UK), whilst the second race is scheduled for 08:40 (16:40 UK) the following day. GT classes will race on Saturday at 16:30 (00:30 UK Sunday) and 10:40 (18:40 UK) the following day.

The Checkered Flag will have individual reports for each race.