There is much anticipation for the start of the 2020 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as for the first time ever, the series will join the annual Streets of St. Petersburg event, dubbed St. Pete’s "Premier Motorsports Festival."
With a waterside view, GT3 Cup Challenge USA’s opening doubleheader will take place alongside the IndyCar Series, Indy Lights and more on March 13-15.
The GT3 Cup Challenge USA series has proven to be a successful stage for driver development and advancement in recent years and as a result, its reach and the competitiveness continues to grow each year.
GT3 Cup Challenge USA includes two classes of race cars – the Platinum Cup class for 911 GT3 Cup machines built since 2017, and Gold Cup for cars built between 2014-2016. The Platinum Cup class also has a Masters category, which rewards drivers 45 and older for besting other competitors within their age range.
As part of NBC Sports IMSA coverage, all eight weekends will be broadcast once again in 2020 on NBCSN. To maximize the exposure on NBCSN, seven of the eight race weekends are scheduled to be featured as part of "IMSA Blocks" on the network. These consist of at least two races from different IMSA series broadcast consecutively for maximum exposure. These broadcast times are listed on the IMSA.com home page under the "IMSA on TV" section.
Each race is also exclusively streamed live for free on IMSA.tv and posted on the IMSA YouTube channel following the NBCSN broadcast. Also posted to the IMSA YouTube channel – which has more than 110,000 subscribers – are preview videos for each event weekend, a campaign that began in 2019.
The at-track experience in GT3 Cup Challenge USA is expected to match the impressive quality of the on-track product. In addition to Yokohama hospitality access for competitors, drivers can expect to take part in autograph sessions each weekend and also participate in fan forums at select events. Also, the winner of the Yokohama Hard Charger Award, given to the driver who gained the most positions during each race, also earns a free set of Yokohama slicks.
But large-scale exposure for GT3 Cup Challenge has already begun just one month into the new year, with former series champions making a splash at the iconic IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener – the Rolex 24 At Daytona – held this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
The race featured one champion from the GT3 Cup Challenge USA series, two former GT3 Cup Challenge Canada champions, and one driver who made history in 2019 by winning the title in both the USA and Canada series. All drivers competed in the GT Daytona (GTD) class.
Trenton Estep – 2018 GT3 Cup Challenge USA Champion – made his WeatherTech Championship debut at this year’s twice-around-the-clock event, finishing an impressive fifth place after capitalizing on an opportunity with the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Representing the Canadian series was 2018 champion Zacharie Robichon and 2016 champion Daniel Morad. Robichon posted the fastest lap in qualifying to start the Rolex 24 on pole with the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche. Meanwhile, Morad – who also won the GTD class in the 2017 Rolex 24 – finished on the class podium in 2019, taking home a third-place trophy with the No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport team.
Roman De Angelis – the 18-year-old champion of both the 2019 GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada series – finished third at the Rolex 24 in 2019 as part of his WeatherTech Championship debut. His historic 2019 accomplishments in Porsche GT3 Cup earned him a full-season WeatherTech Championship ride with the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin team that began at Daytona.
These drivers climbing the ladder continue to inspire those across the GT3 Cup Challenge ranks. IMSA and its partners at Porsche and Yokohama have worked diligently to reduce barriers to allow more drivers to compete in both the GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada series, should they desire, to gain more experience and visit even more of North America’s most iconic circuits.
For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, please visit IMSA.com. To follow along with the series on social media throughout the season, search the hashtag #GT3USA.