Salinas, California 14, September 2019 – Porsche Trophy West USA returned to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca today for race 13 of the 2019 Season.
The drivers of Porsche Trophy West USA walked amongst fellow race enthusiasts today dur-ing the second day of the Monterey Sports Car Championship powered by McLaren. Race fans crowded the paddock and peered over the GT3 and GT4 Porsche cup cars that were being prepped for their races this evening. Porsche Trophy West USA loaded in late Wednes-day, with testing on Thursday and race 13’s qualification on Friday. The lead up to today’s race coupled with the overall buzz of the track paved the way for a much-anticipated green flag at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Twenty-eight Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and Cayman GT4 Clubsport cars in 8 classes competed today at the world famous WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca: Platinum and Platinum Mas-ters Class (Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup), Gold Class (Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup), Diamond Class (Porsche 991.1 GT3 R and 997 GT3 R), Emerald Class (Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup MR), Silver Class (Porsche GT4 Clubsport SRO and Clubsport Comp), Bronze Class (Porsche GT4 Club-sport with Trophy Kit and Clubsport MR), and GT3 Cup Class (Porsche 997.2 GT3 Cup).
This was only the second time this season the drivers of both Group 1 and Group 2 filed into the grid at the same time for a split start. All 28 cars took to the track with the two groups separated by their respective pace cars. Sean McAlister of the Platinum class led the pack on pole position with Hutton McKenna close behind. The pair’s previous attendance together at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca saw them fighting each other hard for the top of the po-dium. McKenna was too eager to pressure McAlister in his first lap however and took an unfor-tunate spin during the first lap. McAlister, who is no stranger to the 2.8 miles of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, was able to maintain his lead for the rest of the race without any for-midable pressure from his fellow GT3 drivers. The open road left McAlister with an opportunity to work around the GT4 drivers of Group 2, and ultimately secure his lead comfortably with their presence defending behind him.
“I got a really good launch at the green flag,” said McAlister. “I looked back at turn 6 and saw that McKenna had spun so I relaxed a little bit at that point. Even though I had a gap at that point, I made sure that I got an even bigger lead. I came up on the GT4’s eventually and tried to become a part of the traffic.”
Fourteen seconds behind McAlister there was a significantly tighter race than up ahead. Mark Davidian and Laura Ely of the Gold class were locked in battle for fastest 991.1 by a separa-tion of only 1 second. Davidian was seemingly unshaken by Ely’s aggressive driving until the seventh lap when she was able to cut his lead down to only two-tenths of a second. Ely con-tinued to push as hard as ever, closing in on Davidian up until the tenth lap when she was fi-nally able to fight past him. That wasn’t enough for Ely, though, as she continued to push past drivers from the Platinum class and create a barrier of her own. Unfortunately, Ely would go off the track in lap 16, and from that point on Davidian just had to keep his head down until the checkered flag.
“Ely got a great run on me after turn 11,” said Davidian. “I didn’t block her, and she took the inside lane. She deserved that pass. I had a great beginning to the race, but midway through I lost my focus. She is a really good racer and it was a lot of fun racing against her. Unfortunate-ly, she went off which is where I made my pass, and from that point on I just stayed disci-plined. The track was starting to lose grip towards the end of the race, and was very unforgiv-ing out there, but I kept hitting my marks and I had a great time.”
The Platinum Masters class was led at the start with Jim Walsh on pole position, and in classic Walsh fashion, he would go on to finish the first race of the weekend on the podium. Walsh had this to say about the strategy behind his “pole-to-podium” race.
“The late day conditions meant I had to be really consistent,” said Walsh. “It’s a very technical track. My crew chief and engineer from Competition Motorsport set me up with a great car, so it was just about hitting all of my marks. I had a reasonable lead in my class, and I could have mixed things up in front of me, but I just let them race their race, and focused on my gap.”
Porsche Trophy West USA returns to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca tomorrow, Sep-tember 15 for race 14.
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