This weekend, on April 8-10, the streets of Southern California will host the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands. The classic silhouette of the Porsche 911 is not a rare sighting on the streets of Southern California, but this coming weekend is a little more special than normal as it will host 34 race ready Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
A temporary 1.968-mile racecourse will be set up and it winds along Pacific Ocean’s Port of Long Beach. There will be a couple of 40-minute races on the temporary course. This is the first time that the all-Porsche race series will be held in California, and it is also the first time that that it will be done on a street circuit.
California is the fifth largest global sales market for Porsche, so it is not surprising that the Porsche has picked California as the venue to hold Round 3 (to be held on Saturday, April 9, 10:45 a.m. California time) and Round 4 (Sunday, April 10, 4:20 p.m. California time) of this season’s race.
Long Beach Convention Center will be used to house the Porsche Carrera Cup paddock which will let fans get an up-close and personal look at the cars. There will also be a chance to be able to interact with the teams and drivers that are essential in this series. Paddock visitors will also be able to see for themselves how they prep the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars before each race and between each session. The whole inspection process of the cars at the IMSA Tech Center can also be viewed by guests.
With the Long Beach race course being shorter and tighter, Porsche and IMSA officials realized that they would need to make some changes to the qualifying regulations. They declared that the there will be two qualifying groups and the 34 entries would be split between these groups. One group will consist of the Pro-Am and Am class while the Pro will be in another group during the 30-minute session. The combined Pro-Am (12 cars) and Am (7 cars) group have a total of 19 cars and on Friday, April 8 at 4:30 p.m., they will be taking to the track for the first half of the session. Immediately after are the remaining 15 Pro drivers (drivers who are considered by the officials as being in the Professional level and are below 35 years of age) for the second half All cars will be grided based on the time they got within their class.
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Porsche 911 GT3 Safety Car
For the two rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America, the road-worthy Porsche 911 GT3 will serve as the safety car. Provided by the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles (PECLA), the 911 GT3 is the result of everything that Porsche learned on track and used it on their road-worthy cars. Embodying the Porsche mantra of ‘racing improves the breed’, the new 911 GT3 was equipped with extensive lightweight materials, motorsport-derived double wishbone front axle layout, and refined aerodynamics.
The Porsche 911 GT3 Safety Car has a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter, six-cylinder boxer engine that revs up to 9,000 rpm. It can generate up to 502 hp and 346 lb-ft of torque. Its engine is practically identical to the engine in the track-only 911 GT3 Cup race car. Acceleration is track ready and it can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds with a high speed of over 195 mph.
On loan from PECLA, the Porsche 911 GT3 Safety Car can be experienced by guests in a variety of drive experiences. Two unique specialty programs to drive the GT3 are offered to guests 21 years old and above: the four-hour Accelerated program and the four-session Academy program. PECLA also have several standard 90-minute programs for the GT3 and it includes the newly launched GT3 and GT4 drive experience.
The 34 Entrants
This year, there are 34 cars that are registered for Rounds 3 and 4 for the Porsche Carrera Cup North America, and so far, this is the largest number to race at Long Beach. There will be 15 drivers that will vie for the Pro class honors. Kay van Berlo (Netherlands attending the University of Miami in Florida) is the current points leader in the No. 3 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. In 2021, Kay van Berlo was a runner-up in the inaugural season of the championship. He almost made a clean sweep on March 16-17 at the 2022 season -opener at Sebring. He got both pole positions, won both races, and even got the fastest race lap in Round 1. In Round 2, teammate Riley Dickenson (New Bruanfels, Texas) got the fastest race lap by a very thin margin. Dickenson comes in second, ahead of Parker Thompson (Canada) from JDX Racing and Trenton Estep (San Antonio, Texas) from MDK Motorsports Porsche.
With two wins under his belt, Efrin Castro (Dominican Republic) is leading the Pro-Am class in the No. 65 Kelly-Moss Porsche. Coming in second is Alan Metni (Austin, Texas) in the No. 99 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. There are 12 entries in the class.
The Am class is open to drivers aged 57 years and above. Mark Kvamme (Columbus, Ohio) claimed both victories in the new No. 43 MDK Motorsports Porsche. In California, however, he will have to face six other Am class entrants who are also hoping to claim victory during the weekend.
Four drivers in this round are directly linked to the state of California. Pro class driver in the No. 24 Premier Racing Porsche Adam Adelson is a University of Southern California graduate and lives and works in Los Angeles as well. Also in the Pro class, No. 58 Topp Racing Porsche driver TJ Fischer lives in Vacaville. Hutton McKenna who hailed from Newport Beach is in his second season driving the No. 88 Pro-class Porsche for Wright Motorsports. Driving the No. 32 Pro-Am class car for Santa Ana-based GMG Racing is Kyle Washington who came from Indio, California.
On April 8, Friday, Practice and Qualifying sessions will be held. On Saturday, April 9, the first of two 40-minute races will start at 10:45 a.m. PT (1:45 p.m. ET), just before the IndyCar series qualifying. Closing the race weekend is Round Two, starting at 4:20 p.m. PT (7:20 p.m. ET) on Sunday, April 10.
For those who will not be able to attend the race, they can get live timing and scoring of each session of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands at www.PorscheCarreraCup.us. There will also be a play-by-play commentary for practice, qualifying, and the two races provided by IMSA Radio. The official series web site www.porschecarreracup.na and the Peacock Streaming App will also be broadcasting the race live.
Porsche Motorsport North America One-Make and GT Sport Manager Troy Bundy shared, “Southern California is home for Porsche Motorsport in North America, so it is only natural we take this opportunity to race in front of one of our largest customer bases and a wildly enthusiastic fan base. Long Beach is internationally recognized as one of the foremost city circuits so there is no better place to make our street course debut with the Porsche Carrera Cup North America than here in our own backyard.
Bundy continued, “The challenges of racing here are not small, almost every part of putting on an event at a street course is unique. However, our Carrera Cup customer teams and drivers, as well as our corporate partners, know the value of being here. It is extremely exciting and gratifying to be asked to be a part of this event and have the opportunity to connect to the local fans both on track and off the track. We look forward to putting on a great show.”