James Sofronas of GMG Racing, the multi-series professional racing team and premier performance tuning facility for European vehicles in Southern California, fought through the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, for a second place GT finish followed by a fourth place finish in a wild 2012 Pirelli World Challenge season opening double-header fraught with yellow-flags and penalties.
Sofronas landed a 7th place start for the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 in the first race of the Grand Prix of St. Petersberg during a qualifying round that the saw the car and crew addressing a brake bias issue.
The 50-minute timed Round 1 race presented drivers a challenge with narrow turns and a field crowded by over 50 starting vehicles, yielding four full-course caution periods. Sofronas spent much of the race battling traffic and Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. Lawson Aschenbach slipped away from both of them to cross the line first in the No. 1 Privacy Star/Entrust Porsche 911 GT3 with O’Connell edging out Sofronas for a finish under a yellow flag. However, a penalty levied against Aschenbach claimed his victory and bumped the podium finish up to the runner-up spot for Sofronas.
“It was a typical street fight with a lot of bumping and banging,” noted Sofronas. “The GMG Porsche was solid and the team did a great job prepping the car so it could hang tough for the fight to the podium. The top 5 of us ran hard, nose-to-tail, for the entire race. Unfortunately the yellows sapped the momentum out of the race but we took advantage of restarts to make up spots from 7th to 2nd with just a few dings on the car.”
Sofronas came on strong again the next day for Round 2 of the double-header but was edged out of a podium spot with a fourth place finish. It was another wild race that saw three restarts from full-course cautions as he battled it out with Andy Pilgrim in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing CTS-V Coupe. Contact with another vehicle during the race hindered performance from the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3. “The restarts were so much fun as I had the advantage of StopTech brakes to take my car deep into the brake zones to make several passes.”
“I had great battles with O’Connell on Saturday and Pilgrim on Sunday,” said Sofronas. “Racing with two pros like that makes it a lot of fun. Coming out of these races with a 2nd and 4th finish isn’t bad considering all of the yellows and damage to the car. For Sunday’s race I had slight contact with Figge in his Volvo which bent our right rear rim and knocked the alignment out so unfortunately we really didn’t have a car to contend with.”
GMG Racing teammate Dino Crescentini didn’t get off unscathed. The No 4. GMG StopTech Porsche 911 GT3 was taken out of the Round 1 race after contact during the first restart resulted in broken rear suspension. Crescentini was then involved in contact during the 4th lap of the second race which also caused suspension damage, forcing him to the pits to retire the car. In the GTS class, the No. 95 GMG Swisher Mitsubishi Evo piloted by Bill Ziegler ran strong during the weekend running as high as 3rd place, but also fell prey to the intense traffic and restarts to finish 10th on Saturday and 12th on Sunday.
The next stop for the Pirelli World Challenge will be in GMG Racing’s backyard as Round 3 of the series comes to Southern California for the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15. For more information about GMG Racing, visit http://www.GMGracing.com or keep up to date through Facebook (GMG Racing), Twitter (@GMGracing) and YouTube ( /GMGracing).
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