Racing Blip: 2015 Nissan Grand Prix of Texas at Circuit of the Americas

By | March 6, 2015

Nissan Grand Prix of Texas

New to our Racing Blips this year is Pirelli World Challenge.  PWC is not new to the site however as we have covered their events held at Miller Motorsports Park over the last few years at Utah Grand Prix.  Over the last few years PWC has seen some impressive growth largely due to them adapting GT3 rules and some new teams coming over from the Tudor Untied SportsCar Championship.

The 2015 season kicks off this weekend during the Nissan Grand Prix of Texas at Circuit of the Americas with a total of seven rounds across all classes and a record 116 entrees filling up the field.  The series has made some changes with how their race weekends will play out adding a class and as well as an all-new stand alone race for the GTS class.  GT, GTA, and the new GT Cup class will race together for two rounds this weekend, The GTS class now has the track all to itself for the entire season and they too will hold two rounds.  TC/TCA/TCB will race in three rounds.

With so many new faces this season, last year’s champions will have fresh blood to go for.  Johnny O’Connell is back in his all new Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3 car to defend his GT title.  Mike Skeen in his Audi R8 LMS Ultra gave O’Connell a run for his money last season and the class points lead came down to the last two rounds of the season.  This year he will also be fighting with newcomers Chris Dyson in a Bentley Continental GT3, Guy Cosmo who left IMSA to race in an Audi R8, local favorite Madison Snow who will be leaving his familiar Porsche Cup cars and also racing in an Audi R8, and Olivier Beretta who will be racing in a Ferrari 458 GT3.

The GTA class returns without its defending champion, Michael Mills, leaving this class wide open!  Henrik Hedman was the runner up for the class points and he leaves his Ferrari 458 GT3 and will now be in a Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3.  Other class favorites include Dan Knox in a Viper GTR, Marcelo Hahn in a Lamborghini Gallardo, Jeff Courtney in an Audi R8 LMS Ultra, Bill Ziegler in a BMW Z4 GT3, Tim Pappas in a SLS GT3, Alex Welch in an R8 LMS, and Duncan Ende in a Ferrari 458 GT3.

The GT Cup class is all new and race spec 911 GT3 Cup cars and is a relatively small class with only ten cars.  Even though it is a new class there are still some familiar faces competing in the like of Colin Thompson, Mitch Landry, Alec Udell, and Sloan Urry, another local favorite.  Combined, these three classes will field 40 cars at the series opener.

20 GTS cars will line the grid on opening day and will have the track to themselves.  The GTS class was full of action and close racing last year.  So close that the championship was decided in the last round of the season last year with Lawson Auschenbach coming out on top in his Chevy Camaro.  Sadly, Auschenbach will not be returning to the series this season.  This leaves the door wide open for contenders.  Jack Baldwin in his Porsche Cayman S finished in a strong second in the points last season.  Will this be his year?  Followed closely behind him was Mark Wilkins who won the Manufactures points for Kia last year in an optima Turbo.  Other favorites include Dean Martin and Jack Roush Jr. in Ford Mustang Boss 302Rs, Tony Gaples in his Chevy Camaro, and local Vesko Kozarov in a Nissan 370Z.

How can you watch?  Well, to watch live you can only stream it.  They can be streamed from World Challenge TV while the race schedule and live timing can be found here.  Each round is also uploaded to YouTube a few days after the event or you can wait for the tape delay broadcast March 14 at 11 am EST for GT/GTA/GT Cup and March 18 at 8 pm EST for TC/TCA/TCB on the CBS Sports Network.

For the full drivers list click here.  The spotters guide is currently unavailable.

Photo: Pirelli World Challenge via Facebook

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