SEBRING, Fla. — March 17, 2014 — IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge photo — Three of the five Wright Motorsports drivers entered in the season-opening doubleheader for the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Series earned podium finishes.
The twin 45-minute races presented by Yokohama were held Thursday and Friday at Sebring International Raceway as part of the 62nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.
The Batavia, Ohio-based team won both the driver and team championships in the series the last two years.
Kasey Kuhlman won the Masters class for drivers 45 and over in the Platinum division and finished a strong fourth overall in Friday morning’s race, which went non-stop. Based out of Cincinnati, he drives the Kuhlsport #15.
John Baker of New York City finished second in the Gold Cup class on Friday while Kristin Treager of Tulsa, Okla., was third in that divisionon Thursday. Treager’s Porsche is sponsored by the Sheehan Racing Team, Women’s Sports Foundation, Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation and Boston Avenue Law PLLC.
Two other Wright Motorsports drivers qualified in the top 10 in the Platinum class and ran in the top 10 during both races only to run into trouble later. Santiago Creel of Mexico City, Mexico did finish ninth in Friday’s race with the #60 sponsored by Hotbook and Under Armour, but Michael Schein of New York City will have to be content with the fact that he qualified well. He started third in Thursday’s race, just 0.640 of a second off the track record.
Kuhlman started sixth overall in Thursday’s race and second to fellow Masters driver Marco Cirone. He was 11th overall and fourth in Masters at the end.
Kuhlman started third overall and first in Masters on Friday. He took the checkered flag with 22 laps complete in fourth overall and won the Masters competition for Platinum Cup in the non-stop race, earning valuable points in the process.
“My job today was just to make no mistakes,” Kuhlman said after Friday’s race. “I had a top-five car yesterday and threw it away with two spins. Today was just about hitting my marks, maintaining my pace, making no mistakes and taking advantage of mistakes the other drivers made, and that’s what I did.
“Wright Motorsports gave me a great car. It was solid throughout the whole run,” Kuhlman added. “A big thanks to my crew chief, Rob Gambril; engineer Bob Viglione and John Wright. I feel awesome about this one!”
Baker qualified second in Gold Cup for Thursday’s race, but Jeff Mosing got around him at the start to push him to third. He was right behind Mosing when the first yellow waved 15 minutes into the race. The class leader, Patrick Otto Madsen, had problems on the restart with six laps down, vaulting Mosing and Baker into first and second. Baker hounded Mosing in a spirited battle, finally getting around him with 17 laps complete to take the top position. Unfortunately it was short-lived, as Baker and Mosing made contact on the last lap, which dropped Baker to eighth in class at the end.
Baker started third in class on Friday behind Madsen and Mosing. He got second with four laps down by passing Mosing, and he remained in that position the rest of the way despite Mosing’s constant threats. It was one of the fiercest battles in the race but Baker held him off and took the checkered flag 0.363 of a second before Mosing did to earn second place in class.
“It was cold at the start,” Baker told a series official after Friday morning’s race. “Braking points were a little further away. It took a little longer for the tires to heat up. I got through the first couple of laps. Normally there’s a lot of traffic, and we settled down. I was able to work my way through and make it up to P2. It got a little bit slippery at the end, but I think it was a perfect day. It’s a great track. You’ve got to love Sebring.”
Treager started tenth in the Gold Cup division in Thursday’s race and battled her way up to fourth place at the checkered, only to learn that she’d actually finished on the podium after another competitor was disqualified after the race. It was a classic case of perseverance, as she was seventh in class at the halfway point. She passed Paul Barnhart Jr. to move into sixth with just 9 minutes left in the race and 14 laps down. She moved into fifth three laps later and got fourth on the last lap, only to vault to third when the official standings were released.
She started seventh in class on Friday morning and she was running sixth when a spinning car hit her Porsche in the rear on the third lap. She was forced to pit and had to retire with only four laps complete.
“What a week!” Treager said afterwards. “I started off on the wrong foot with a terrible qualifying session; I flat spotted my tires and had to start Race 1 with a new set, resulting in a penalty. Per the rules, I started the race at the back of the pack. Every lap I passed car after car after car…I lost count after awhile! After a pending DQ was sorted out, I ended up with a third place finish in Gold class! This was a very rewarding race. To work that hard and see results is truly gratifying.
“Race 2 was a completely different story,” she continued. “I was taken out by a spinner behind me. There was nothing I could do to avoid it. After pitting, we discovered that my deck lid was ripped off its hinges and race control wouldn’t let me back on track without a deck lid. I joked about slapping some duct tape on the problem and heading back out; but once you pit in a sprint race, your race is over anyway.”
Creel started ninth on Thursday but he only did three laps, bringing out the first of two full-course cautions when he and another driver made contact. He was credited with 23rd in the Platinum class for the season opener. Creel started ninth on Friday too, and finished in that position.
Schein was running fifth in Thursday’s race when he went off course and dropped out with 10 laps complete, bringing out the second full-course caution in what turned out to be a 19-lap race. His official finishing position was 21st in the Platinum class on Thursday. He started seventh in Friday morning’s race but encountered problems with 19 laps complete and ended up 14th.
The next doubleheader is May 3-4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, Calif. The complete schedule and live timing and scoring can be found on imsa.com.
Additional information can be found on the team’s Web site at WrightMotorsports.com and its Facebook page.
About Wright Motorsports
Wright Motorsports is the premier Porsche tuning facility in Ohio and a multi-series, international racing team known for superb car preparation, expert race strategy and driver development. Located in Batavia, near Cincinnati, it is owned and directed by John Wright, a certified Porsche factory-trained technician. As a crew chief Wright has played a key role in winning eight driver and seven team championships in World Challenge, IMSA (ALMS) and the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
In 2012-2013 Wright Motorsports won back-to-back driver and team championships while fielding multiple entries in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge; serviced its customers who compete in other series and club-racing events, and provided race car-quality preparation for its customers’ high-performance street cars. For more information see WrightMotorsports.com on the Internet and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.