GMG Racing, the multi-series professional racing team and premier performance tuning facility for European Automobiles in Southern California, is bringing 2 new cars to rounds 10 and 11 of the Pirelli World Challenge Series this coming weekend at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.
Lead driver, team owner and president, James Sofronas, who is usually found behind the wheel of his familiar blue and white Porsche Cup car, will be debuting the world’s 2nd World Challenge AUDI R8 LMS, which is also the second from GMG Racing.
Sofronas will still carry the #14 that has been present for most of his career in World Challenge racing but this time on a car with the Audi Motorsport colors of red and silver, and with the sponsorship of Swisher Racing to promote their new line of E-swisher electronic cigarettes and cigars that offer an alternative to traditional smoking without sacrificing taste or enjoyment and are assembled, tested and filled in the USA.
“This is an exciting time for GMG as we develop our new relationship with Audi of America and Audi Sport Customer Racing,” stated Sofronas. “With 2 GMG Racing clients purchasing the first 2 Audi R8 LMS GT3 specs in North America earlier this year, this was the next step in building the program with Audi and having GMG run a 3rd car under its team.”
Adding to this excitement will be the World Challenge premier of the GMG Pontiac Solstice, piloted by Bill Ziegler. This car, which won the 2008 National Runoffs in the T2 class with Zigler at the wheel, has remained idle since that victory, which was taken away by the Stewards due to post race ruling regarding race contact.
Ziegler experienced an unfortunate wreck in his trademark Mitsubishi EVO at Detroit earlier in June which ended the car’s season. Ziegler asked GMG to build his Solstice to World Challenge specs. The team was quick to oblige such a fantastic and loyal client, managing to turn the car around in time in just 4 weeks with well over 400 man hours.
GMG transformed this showroom stock Solstice into a full blown GTS racer, stripping it down 400lbs and upgrading every aspect of the car along the way including StopTech brakes, Penske race shocks and adjustable suspension, drivetrain upgrades, and bodywork modifications.
“I am incredibly proud of our team, especially Jeremy Smallwood, who spent every waking hour on this car making sure it was not only going to be competitive in the class but safe for Bill to drive,” James commented. “I can’t thank Bill and Jackie Ziegler enough for all that they have done for not only GMG but for me personally. They are such a big part of this team and have been so great to work with, I really want to see Bill have the strong weekend he deserves. He is one of the most resilient guys I know and he just doesn’t give up. He is extremely bright and manages to keep things very calm during a tumultuous racing weekend, I wish I had his demeanor,” joked James.
James further added, “Mid Ohio is the perfect place for us to debut the GMG R8 as the crowds are tremendous with ALMS and INDY Car racing, as well as with Pirelli World Challenge racing, not to mention the many loyal Audi fans in the area. GMG has a history in a Porsche at Mid Ohio. I’ve enjoyed a victory and a 2nd place finish here two years ago, so there are high hopes coming to this famous and technical course. With 55 cars starting the race, it will be a battle of managing traffic and keeping your nose clean during the 50 minute sprint race.”
Sofronas continued, “We want to build the Audi program within GMG and run it in conjunction with our Porsche program as we will continue our ongoing relationship. Porsche of course will continue to be a large part of the GMG Racing Program, not only in World Challenge, but in ALMS and Grand Am as we have multiple clients that race Porsches across those different series. Expect to see 2 Audis and 2 Porsches alongside Bill’s Solstice at the 2012 World Challenge season finaly held at Infineon August 25th.”
“Audi, like Porsche Motorsports, has been great to work with as they focus on the R8 LMS program worldwide, we thought that Pirelli World Challenge would be the ideal place for the Audi to compete.” Asked about his optimism, Sofronas informs, “The R8 fits well within in the GT structure as it competes against the likes of Corvette, Porsche, Nissan GTR, Viper, Cadillac and Volvo. This series ideally suits the R8, as the race version runs so many street car parts including uprights, wheel bearings, control arms, and more thaqt are easily accessible and carry over from the street R8’s that we prep back in the shop. Plus we run the same GMG WC spec R8 exhaust on the street car as we do on the race car, pleasing our R8 clients. Adding to the benefit of running an R8 LMS stateside is the fact that Audi Sport Customer Racing has a location in Indiana that can provide additional parts and support to help teams running the R8 here in the U.S., making it very easy to maintain the cars.”
The race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be broadcast by NBC Sports, Saturday, August 25th at 1:30-3PM eastern and will be streamed live online at www.world-challengeTV.com.