Jim Taggart wheels his Porsche 911 GT3 R around the tight street circuit at St. Petersburg
The three Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class and the Porsche Cayman S in the GTS class represented the brand well in series qualifying, which was just completed through the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Fla.
EFFORT Racing, based in Houston, set the Porsche pace with Tim Bergmeister, of Langenfeld, Germany, driving the program in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, qualifying 13th overall, while Michael Mills, Angleton, Tex., placing 18th fastest overall and eighth in the new GT-Amateur (GT-A) class in the #41 team car. Taggart Autosport, with Jim Taggart , Cary, N.C., at the wheel, is 19th overall and ninth in GT-A.
It was supposed to rain in St. Pete all day, and the teams were prepared for wet qualifying, but it was actually sunny and dry for the 8:00 AM session. Taggart was disappointed with his qualifying lap, but is optimistic about the race - with the weather being the x-factor.
"We didn't quite get the lap we wanted, but the car is quick and I'm confident we can move up during the race. Weather may be playing a factor and we'll be prepared for wet or dry," said Taggart.
Michael Mills, who spent last season running with EFFORT in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, said the team is working on the setup for the new 911 GT3 R, but he's confident they will be ready for the race.
"I am happy to be part of the Porsche racing family, and I am sure we will work out some of the teething problems we have encountered during practice and qualifying," he said.
Tim Bergmeister, who has the most time in the 911 GT3 R - having driven the car in FIA GT3 classes around the world, echoed Mills' setup sentiment.
"We are not where we want to be yet for race setup, but the EFFORT crew is working hard to get us closer for the race. As for how competitive we will be versus the field, the rules-makers will have to evaluate everyone's performance after the weekend, and that's out of our hands," said Bergmeister, brother of Porsche factory driver Joerg Bergmeister.
The Pirelli World Challenge Championships are thrilling 50-minute sprints, featuring top- notch drivers and teams, zero scheduled pit stops or driver changes. It is the only North American sports car series featuring a standing start and all of the top manufacturer brands from around the world that race in the series run on Pirelli P Zero Racing Slicks. The first race will be streamed live starting at 3:00 PM Eastern time (green flag at 3:25 PM) today, Saturday, March 29 at www.world-challengeTV.com. Live scoring will be available at:
http://www.world-challenge.com/index.php?option=com_drivers&view=event&id=10&Itemid=216. The second race starts at 11:25 AM Eastern (steaming video coverage starts at 11:00 AM) on Sunday, March 30, with all the same URLs applying for video and live scoring. The NBC Sports Network TV coverage - combining both races - will air on
Sunday, April 6, at 5:30 PM Eastern.
In the GTS class, Jack Baldwin, Marietta, Ga., in his #73 GTSport Porsche Cayman S, prepared by Goldcrest Motorsports, captured the pole in the GTS class. Baldwin was first and second, respectively in yesterday's practice sessions.
The 911 GT3 R, based on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (type 997), which was developed for the FIA GT3 racing class in Europe, has never raced in North America as the car has never met any of the current or past series rules. It features a four-liter, 500 hp engine (horsepower may vary with future balance of performance) with a 56mm restrictor for World Challenge, and features many of the latest tech innovations on the other Porsche race cars including a six-speed paddle shift transmission.
To view all the latest times and results, click on the following link, then go to Event Results:
Event details and TV schedule:
Streets of St. Petersburg - 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit
Green Flag: Race 1: Saturday, March 29, 3:25 PM EDT
Green Flag: Race 2: Sunday, March 30, 11:25 AM EDT
Race Lengths: 50 minutes apiece.
Television (on NBC Sports Network): Sunday, April 6 - 5:30 PM (EDT)
Live Internet Telecast (on www.world-challengeTV.com):
Saturday, March 29 - 3:10 PM EDT
Sunday, March 30 - 11:05 AM EDT