Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GMG to Bring Five Entries to World Challenge Opener

GMG Racing Press Release

SANTA ANA, Calif. (March 19, 2013) - After debuting the prolific Audi R8 LMS during select races of last year's Pirelli World Challenge, GMG will head to this weekend’s season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg prepared for a full-season of action, with more entries than anyone in the series.

Entering the championship with the mid-engined, 5.2L V10 machine, the team will arrive on the Western shores of Florida after spending a combined total of eight days testing, tuning, and refining their current package during the off-season. With four Audi R8 entries, more than any individual team has ever entered for the marque in the U.S., GMG will equal the total number of Audi’s brought to this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, where the manufacturer took their first win.

“The Pirelli World Challenge Series has really done an excellent job welcoming the European GT3 cars in to the U.S.,” stated GMG Team Principal James Sofronas. “Our Audi R8 LMS is a perfect example of that. This car features a number of technological innovations that you simply can’t find in any other GT series, and our program will really showcase that. If you look at this year’s entry list, there are some great brands on track: Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Porsche, Volvo, Corvette, and more. The series has done an excellent job creating an entrée for all these marques, and I believe the fans will truly enjoy the diversity.”

Playing the role of both Team Principal and Driver, James Sofronas will lead the charge in the no. 14 GMG Audi R8 LMS. Having driven the majority of the 2012 season in the car, the former race-winner heads to this weekend’s race with only one goal: a GT Series Championship.

“This season I am 100% focused on the championship,” stated Sofronas. “During the off-season, I’ve made major efforts to re-focus my balance between running the business and delegating where I can, with the single idea of concentrating as much as I can on driving. I have never done so much testing in my life. We have the team, the car, and the experience to really make a run at it this year. We really want to demonstrate what the Audi is capable of, what the team is capable of, and with the intense competition this year it would be great to make it happen.”

Not to be outdone, Sofronas will have a big challenge in not only his outside competition, but also among his teammates as well.

Returning to the fold for 2013 will be seasoned driver Alex Welch. Welch, from Colorado, will return with GMG after running various campaigns throughout the years. No stranger to sportscars himself, the Colorado-resident has driven in a wealth of categories, including events such as the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Long Beach Grand Prix, and many more. Equally notable to his endurance racing success, Welch actually campaigned his no. 08 Spyder R8 LMS during select NASA events in 2012, where he took victory in his class.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time with GMG,” stated Welch. “The team has put together a very professional program, and the platform that the Audi R8 provides is incredibly strong. St. Petersburg should make for a very interesting race for all of us, and I’m confident we’ll all show well.”

Additionally, GMG will welcome Southern Californian Bret Curtis. Having run with GMG for several years in both World Challenge and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Curtis returns to the team after trying his hand in the Blancpain Endurance Series in Europe throughout much of the 2012 season. Exchanging his endurance schedule for this year’s sprint format, Curtis looks forward to driving his no. 32 Spectra Resources Audi R8 LMS.

“It’s great to be back,” stated the Californian. “GMG has always provided a great program, and racing stateside will be a welcome change to my travel schedule! My years with GMG were with Porsches, and this is a totally new experience. Driving a mid-engined car is a whole new experience, and one I’m really enjoying. The car is very predictable, very comfortable, and will definitely place us all well for the season. It will be nice to be able to just push hard when the green drops, sprint racing doesn’t leave much room for error.”

Rounding out the lineup with be team newcomer, and fellow Southern Californian, Duncan Ende. Hailing from Los Angeles, Ende comes to the team for his first experience in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, but as no stranger to professional competition. Having spent the last six seasons competing in various ranks of GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series, the young Californian has driven everything from Porsche 911 GT3 cars to the highly touted Prototype Challenge vehicles. Having taken multiple victories in the American Le Mans Series, Ende took a close-runner up in the 2011 ALMS GT-Challenge championship, as well as winning Petit Le Mans in 2010. Having taken the first laps in his no. 24 STANDD / Merchant Services / Racer’s Roast Audi R8 LMS just a few weeks ago, Ende is looking forward to the series’ sprint-race format.

“All of my sportscar experience has been based on driving a car to last for several hours,” stated Ende. “This year will be completely different. Everyone pushes hard right until the end, and I’m looking forward to being part of it. The car has been incredible so far. It’s very well balanced, very fast, and a real joy to drive. I really appreciate what everyone at GMG has done to make this happen, and I’m really looking forward to a strong first season.”

Completing GMG’s lineup for the Grand Prix will be GMG’s longest-standing driver (other than Owner James Sofronas), Bill Ziegler. Driving a Pontiac Solstice in the series’ GTS division, the team at GMG has put the car through an extensive series of adjustments and series-legal modifications, including an entirely revamped drivetrain. With 15 years of experience competing in both the World Challenge Series as well as other SCCA categories, Ziegler, from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, will take to the production category in hopes of a strong debut for the no. 95 Swisher Pontiac.

“It’s actually been a lot of fun to drive the Solstice around,” stated Ziegler. “The guys at GMG did a great job of getting it race ready, and this is definitely a race-car unlike any other. I actually think we’ll surprise a few people with this car, it’s been really strong.”

Finally, while not attending the upcoming round at St. Petersburg, the team will actually enter a fifth Audi R8 in subsequent races, featuring none other than sportscar ace Anders Hainer. Originally from Sweden, Hainer is a pronounced veteran of many racing disciplines, beginning his competitive career as downhill skier, and eventually turning to sportscar racing. Once in sportscars, Hainer’s decorated 15-year career has featured everything from multiple SCCA wins, all the way to victories and championships in GRAND-AM.

With the first of two races for the weekend taking place this Saturday, March 23, the Pirelli World Challenge Series will arrive with strong momentum based on multiple marques continuing with the series. Running five cars, GMG will look to proudly represent the series and brands they compete for, with strong hopes for a championship bid.

Round One of the Pirelli World Championship will take place on Saturday, March 23, at 5:00PM ET, with round two taking place the next day at 10:25AM. Live coverage will be streamed at, as well as broadcast on NBC Sports on Sunday, April 7, at 12:30PM ET.

GMG will continue to provide on-going updates throughout the weekend via their website (, as well as Twitter (@GMGracing) and Facebook (

About GMG
Founded in 2001 by James Sofronas and Fabryce Kutyba, GMG has quickly established itself as North America’s premier performance tuning and racing facility. What began as a small 1200 sq. ft. shop, maintaining two race cars, has grown into a 30,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art performance tuning, racing and service facility located in (Orange County) Santa Ana, California. The staff's experience, attention to detail, and passion are what make GMG the choice of professionals and enthusiasts world wide. Whether you want to maximize the performance of your street car, or race wheel-to-wheel on both amateur and professional racing series across North America, GMG’s reputation for service and quality is unmatched.
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About Lasso
Lasso is a request-based, sharing network predicated on a very simple idea: You have something that I want—and you may not even know it until I ask for it. With so much content cluttering our phones, tablets, PCs and social networks, it can be difficult to seek out and find the specific items of interest to you. Friends or colleagues may not share this content with you directly because they’re drowning in data overload themselves. Often, these friends aren’t sure exactly what you want. Lasso makes it easy for you to round up the digital content you want from friends—simply by asking for it. By putting the onus on the requester, instead of the person holding the content, you’ll be in a much better position to actually receive the digital content you’re interested in.

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About Merchant Services
In 2001 Merchant Services Ltd. was founded with three basic principles in mind: quality, service, and commitment. Inspired by our racing heritage we pride ourself in providing the highest level of customer service and support 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Merchant Services Ltd. develops long term relationships with both our merchants and banking partners allowing us to have the highest customer retention rate in the industry. Founded by a professional race car driver, innovation and efficiency have always been our core competencies, ensuring that our merchants receive the cutting edge solutions their businesses need.

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About Spyder
Spyder was founded by avid skier and outdoor athlete David Jacobs. He rose to world-class rankings as a competitive skier, and stayed connected to the sport he loves by coaching, designing related products, and building one of the most powerful brands in the industry. His dedication to the sport of skiing and the Spyder brand is as inspiring as it is intriguing. Spyder's growth exploded over the turn of the century, and the company is now the largest ski-specialty brand in the world. David has recently discovered the adrenaline rush in racing classic Formula One cars, finding success - not surprisingly - in this new pastime. For a man who's thrived on sports, technology, and professional advancement, the world is sure to see David go a few more times around the track.

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About Spectra Resources
Spectra Resources is a specialized trading company designed for buyers and sellers to purchase and sell steel in any part of the world efficiently and economically. SPECTRA Resources is involved in importing, exporting, domestic and off-shore trading, warehousing, logistics coordination and the processing of multiple steel products. SPECTRA Resources boasts nearly 20 years of experience in physical steel trading and is positioned to bring a strong value proposition to your enterprise.

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Stop Texting And Distracted Driving (STANDD) was founded by Diveeta Thompson, whose son Rodney lost his life while driving. There were numerous factors that played a factor - speed, music, and texting. In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of texting and driving, Diveeta founded STANDD and has been working diligently throughout her home state of Indiana and nationally through Duncan Ende's motorsports program to spread the message of the dangers of distracted driving. STANDD also promotes the Rodney O. Thompson II Scholarship, which was established to help young people fulfill their goal of attending college after high school.

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About Swisher
The company began in 1861 when David Swisher received a small cigar business in settlement of a debt. Back then, cigars were only a sideline for Swisher and his four sons, just one of many products that they hawked across the Midwest for the “rolling stores” or wagons. Today, Swisher International, Inc. is a leader in the tobacco business, accounting for one-third of the United States' cigar sales and is America’s largest cigar exporter.

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Photo credit: GMG Racing