GT and TCE teams alike from across North America and Canada have come out in force to support CREVENTIC’s annual 24-hour race at the Circuit of the Americaas.
Just under a month remains before the Hankook 24H COTA USA gets under way at the Circuit of the Americas, with Dutch promoter CREVENTIC already anticipating a formidable turnout of North American competitors for its third annual race in Austin, Texas.
The Hankook 24H COTA USA, run jointly by CREVENTIC and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), became the Dutch promoter’s first trans-Atlantic 24-hour endurance event in 2017, and this year features a provisional entry list that already surpasses those of the previous two iterations. Teams representing the Stars and Stripes and Canadian Maple Leaf now make up half of the near 40-strong grid.
One of the world’s most respected and fastest growing endurance racing programs, the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook also draws its season to a close at COTA for the third year in succession. The Texan facility is also confirmed for CREVENTIC’s 2020 schedule on November 13th-15th.
“This event is fast becoming something special for the 24H SERIES,” explained CREVENTIC’s Gerrie Willems. “This will be our third year organising a 24-hour event at the Circuit of the Americas, and every year, we have listened to our competitors and our fans, who in turn have done an amazing job of spreading the word. The results speak for themselves, and it looks like this year will feature our biggest race yet at COTA and easily the most supported by North American competitors. We can’t wait to get started!”
Entries are still being accepted for this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA.
Former champs take on IMSA class winners in A6
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class winner Park Place Motorsports makes its CREVENTIC debut in the top drawer A6 class with the Porsche 991 GT3 R. The Texas-based squad entered its fifth consecutive season in the American sports car league and currently lies 3rd overall in this year’s Michelin Endurance Cup.
Also gunning for A6 class victory will be CP Racing. The 24H SERIES stalwart has taken a class win on both of the previous iterations of the Hankook 24H COTA USA and finished 3rd overall at last year’s event. On top of that, team owner Charles Putman and teammates Charles Espenlaub and Joe Foster will be defending their 24H SERIES Continents Drivers’ titles at COTA, and are keen to secure the crown with the help of 2019 teammate, Shane Lewis.
Land of hope and (possible) glory in GT4
Though a tantalising fight for A6 victory awaits, American eyes will almost certainly be drawn to the 14-strong GT4-class field, all but two of which are based in North America.
Porsche specialist NOLASPORT brings a three-car 718 Cayman GT4 CS MR line-up to COTA. The Louisiana-based outfit started its year strongly with a double Pro-Am race win in Austin and finished 2nd in this year’s Pirelli GT4 America ‘SprintX’ Series. Crucially, teammates Mike Vess, Jason Hart and Matt Travis go into this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA undefeated in-class at the Hankook 24H COTA USA.
“Last year the Mercedes GT4s were quite a bit faster than us in a straight line, so I’m hopeful things will be a bit more balanced this year,” Matt Travis explained. “And certainly the BMWs are plenty strong at COTA, as we have proven ourselves in the past. There are a lot of excellent teams entered, and we look forward to seeing where we stack up.”
Tellingly, Classic BMW, with which the trio claimed its two class wins at COTA, will also return to competition in the CUP1 class with a BMW M240i Racing Cup.
The RHC Jorgensen/Strom BMW M4 is expected to be among the frontrunners in GT4, given that the runner-up at this year’s California 8 Hours shortly after also finished 3rd in-class at COTA last year.
“Brett [Strom] and I have had some wins and inspiring podium finishes in endurance racing in the past two years,” explained team boss Daren Jorgensen, “and that includes finishing on the podium last year in COTA and the [Hankook] 12H SPA in 2018. Ultimately, I think we have the strongest driver lineup and best endurance car in the BMW M4 GT4.”
Team boss patriarchs Daren Jorgensen and Brett Strom will once again team with Gerard McLeod – Bathurst 12 Hours veteran and brother of MARC Cars boss, Ryan – and Danny van Dongen. The quartet will be joined in the hot seat by Jon Miller, a regular competitor for Samantha Tan’s eponymous ST Racing, which has also entered a BMW M4 at COTA.
“There will be a little friendly rivalry going on, so I'm looking forward to that!” Miller joked. “But in the GT4 class, I feel like we're the team to beat. We have an experienced crew who are fantastic on the pit stops and with engineering and strategy. Our driver lineup has all had success at COTA, both together and independently. The pieces are all there, so our goal is to win.”
Like RHC Jorgensen/Strom, RENNtech Motorsports makes its return to the Hankook 24H COTA USA with a podium finish already under its belt. The ‘only AMG-derived Mercedes-Benz tuning company worldwide since 1989’ finished 2nd in ‘GT4’ last year, and will go head-to-head with fellow Mercedes runner, Winward Racing. Sadly the latter has not enjoyed the best of luck during its 24H SERIES tenure…
“We had a really great car last year but suffered an oil line leak. We tried to repair it four or five times, but in the end, we had to retire the car,” laments Bryce Ward. “I really like the CREVENTIC events though and plan to do several more next year. The racing is very professional and the organisers are trying to keep the costs down, which is very important to all the teams.”
Bucking the trend in GT4 meanwhile are Racers Edge Motorsports, Rearden Racing, and USRD. The trio enters the class’ only Sin R1 GT4, Audi R8 LMS, and Ginetta G55 GT4 Evo respectively. 30-year veteran Stephen Cameron Racing meanwhile completes the category line-up.
Porsche Challenge USA and TC America champions headline TCE
Across in ‘991’, Kelly-Moss Motorsports makes its event debut with dual Porsche 991-II Cups, fresh from a Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA season in which 18-year-old Canadian Roman De Angelis secured his 10th Platinum win. In-class, the team will go head-to-head with JDX Racing, the Colorado-based squad that placed 3rd overall in this year’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA and claimed a maiden class win at last year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA.
The American contingent continues in TCE. IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge touring car contender Atlanta Speedwerks enters an ‘FK7’-spec Honda Civic Type-R in the TCR class. HRD meanwhile, which successfully ran TC America squad FCP Euro to a TCR Team and Drivers championship, is set to enter a Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR.
By James Gent
Photo credit: Fryba photographer