I’ve known Fabryce Kutyba of GMG for more than a decade now. Long enough for us to both make fun of the other as our once virile bodies fall apart. Fabryce helped European Car realize a few of its Challenge Series, events that squared off Audi S4s, Porsche 911 turbos and Volkswagen GTIs in the hope of finding the best of the best.
As much as we enjoyed the ec Challenge Series, they were limited in scope, a bit too specialized for the average reader. Why would a GTI fanatic care about a 911 running mid-10s in the quarter-mile? The answer is he wouldn’t. Unless you owned that particular brand of car there was no compelling reason to read bout it. This made our editorial staff very, very sad. Moreover, the logistics needed to run such an event are daunting. And we’re only talking about 10-12 cars per Challenge. A proper Tuner Grand Prix would contain more than 100 cars of different makes, models and temperaments. The very thought of putting on a Global Tuner Grand Prix nearly gave me a stroke. Hell, I nearly broke into tears when the catering truck guy got in a fight with the track owner.
Although tuner shootouts in Europe and Asia are common (e.g., Tuner GP at Hockenheim and the Super Lap Battle event at Japan’s Suzuka), North America hasn’t seen anything like it. It would take a better man than me to organize such an event.
Enter Fabryce Kutyba.
I always knew Fabryce was a bit of a lunatic. I never realized he was flippin’ mad. In less than six months’ time, Fabryce and the crew at GMG had booked the world-famous Laguna Seca Raceway, devised a series of run groups and rules and managed to get the info disseminated onto the Internet all by himself. That Fabryce managed to do this with such limited resources is astounding. Even Laguna Seca officials were impressed and placed the GTGP on their schedule for the next five years.
The Global Tuner Grand Prix (GTGP) presented by Mobil 1 was the season finale for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. With intermittent rain throughout the weekend and adverse track conditions, the action kept drivers and fans on the edge of their seats. The diversity of the tuning culture was displayed and represented by more than a dozen manufacturers. Racers from various backgrounds set out on track at the same time as the GTGP welcomed a mix of professional racing drivers and amateur club and time-trial drivers, incorporating makes and models from every corner of the globe.
We had an amazing weekend and would like to thank all our sponsors for their support, says GTGP co-founder Fabryce Kutyba. Mobil 1, Stoptech, Porsche Motorsport North America, Mazda, BBS, Michelin, Pirelli, and Hoosier. There is no doubt that the Global Tuner Grand Prix is an event that will only grow in the years to come.
The main event on Sunday was the GTGP time-trial competition, consisting of three different classes: Tuner, Street and Unlimited. Andy Pilgrim claimed the fastest time overall in the Unlimited class, running the K-PAX Volvo S60R, with a 1-minute, 28.517-second lap time.
I was really amazed to see so many fans despite the weather conditions, says Pilgrim. There were people in the grandstands and tons of people at The Corkscrew, even during monsoon conditions; great to see. One point I do want to highlight: I can honestly say the on-track respect and discipline of the drivers at this event was some of the best I have ever seen.
Garry Grant took the fastest time and victory in the Tuner class with a 1:37.604 in a Dodge Viper ACR, while the overall Street class winner was T.C. Kline in a Porsche Boxster Spyder, putting down a 1:42.780.
The main Challenge Race took place Sunday and was blessed with the absence of rain. The front row consisted of Porsche and Volvo, with James Sofronas and Pilgrim lining up side by side, respectively. These two drivers ended up lapping the entire field during the 50-minute sprint to checker, and the winners ended up finishing as they started, with Sofronas winning overall and Pilgrim placing Second. John Trefethan finished Third. Sofronas also recorded the fastest time during the weekend with a 1:26.549 on Saturday to set the quickest time overall for the inaugural running of this event.
The weekend also attracted the attention of professional racing driver Darren Law. I really enjoyed being involved in the Global Tuner Grand Prix this year, says Law. They have really put together a first-class program. It was hosted at one of America’s premier racetracks; it had a good turnout of competitors and was well organized. This is also a great time of year. They made it available to both competitors and spectators alike. I really think they have something here and look forward to being a part of it again next season.
That Fabryce managed to do this with such limited resources is astounding. Even Laguna Seca officials were impressed.
Challenge Race: Day 3 Final
|Car #||Driver||Car||Sponsor||Fastest Lap||Class|
|14||James Sofronas||Porsche WC-997 GT3 Cup||GMG / Stoptech / BBS||1:26.549||GT1|
|8||Andy Pilgrim||Volvo S60R||K-Pax Racing / Volvo||1:27.539||GT1|
|99||John Trefethan||Porsche 996 GT3 Cup||N/A||1:34.635||GT3|
|47||Greg Ross||Porsche 996 GT3 Cup||N/A||1:35.331||GT3|
|22||Darren Rushin||Porsche 997 GT3 RSR||911 Design||1:33.751||GT1|
|28||Mark Anderson||Porsche 928 GTR||928 International||1:33.427||GT1|
|15||Brad Sofronas||Porsche 996 GT3||GBR / GMG||1:37.684||GT4|
|46||Guy Dreier||Porsche 997 GT3 Cup||Dreier Design / 911 Design||1:34.480||GT2|
|56||Mike Courtney||Porsche 964 Cup||N/A||1:41.424||GT4|
|55||Fernando Pena||Porsche 996 Cup||N/A||1:41.550||GT3|
|71||Dan Davis||Porsche 911 Turbo||911 Design||1:55.129||GT1|
|54||Chris Finn||BMW M3||BMW CCA||2:00.614||GT4|
|4||Dino Crescentini||Porsche WC-997 GT3 Cup||GMG Racing||DNS||GT1|
|44||Brent Holden||Porsche 997 GT3 Cup||GMG Racing||DNS||GT2|
|N/A||Peter LeSarfe||Porsche 997 GT3 Cup||FusionTrade||DNS||GT2|
|N/A||Dan Aspesi||Porsche 997 Turbo||Speed Gallery||DNS||GT2|
Tuner Class: Day 3 Time Trials
|Car #||Driver||Car||Sponsor||Fastest Lap|
|29||G. Grant||Dodge Viper ACR||Grant Racing||1:37.604|
|30||J. Menczer||Porsche 997 GT3||Menczer Racing||1:37.764|
|86||S. Eguina||Porsche 996 GT2||Fairveiw Mortgage||1:38.312|
|24||S. Mobine||Porsche 997S||Renntrack / Shilo||1:38.464|
|59||R. Todd||BMW 135i||BR Racing||1:38.492|
|25||J. Sussman||Porsche 997S||Renntrack / Shilo||1:39.976|
|70||J. Holloway||N/A||Mothers Racing||1:40.461|
|57||J. Buck||Porsche 911||Cape Auto||1:41.825|
|73||C. Wagner||Ferrari Scuderia||NOVITEC Rosso USA||1:42.679|
|27||P. Hitesman||Porsche 997 GT3 RS||Renntrack / Shilo||1:43.284|
|42||J. Cocker||VW Jetta||Revo Technik||1:43.842|
|26||Emile Bouret||Mitsubishi EVO 10||Sparco USA||1:45.225|
|34||B. Newcomer||Corvette Z06||PCA||1:47.963|
|32||E. Monroe||Porsche 993||Monroe Consulting||1:49.955|
Unlimited Class: Day 3 Time Trials
|Car #||Driver||Car||Sponsor||Fastest Lap|
|3||A. Pilgrim||Volvo S60R||K-Pax 3R / Volvo||1:28.517|
|35||C. Miller||Audi A4||034Motorsport||1:31.221|
|21||P. Ward||Subaru STi||GT Garage||1:39.394|
|15||B. Sofronas||Porsche 996 GT3||GBR / GMG Racing||1:41.797|
|77||E. Nakato||BMW M3||HorsePowerFreaks||1:46.229|
Street Class: Day 3 Time Trials
|Car #||Driver||Car||Sponsor||Fastest Lap|
|12||T.C. Kline||Porsche Boxter Spyder||TC Kline Racing||1:42.780|
|23||B. Todd||BR Racing||Porsche 997 GT3||1:44.201|
|36||C. Bertuzzi||Nissan 350Z||Specialty Car Crafe / Precision Z Service||1:45.596|
|40||L. Potts||Porsche Cayman S||BR Racing||1:46.560|
|38||C. Newcomer||Porsche Cayman S||BC Racing / PCA OCR||1:58.477|
|39||B. Delgado||Porsche Boxster||PCA OCR||1:59.634|
Team owner of K-PAX Racing on the GTGP
ec: What prompted K-Pax to enter the Global Tuner event as a last-minute entry?
JH: A number of things led us to Laguna Seca and the GTGP. First, the Volvo is really a tuner on steroids racing in the World Challenge GT Series, and racing in the GTGP gave us a chance to race on a great trackLaguna Secaunrestricted by weight, rpm, tires, boost limits, ride heights and aerodynamics. We’ve always been focused on the World Challenge Series and the rules associated therein. The GTGP gave us a chance to break free of the scrutinizers, see what we had, and compare what we had against some of the time attack cars out there. I really like the time attack format; very similar to a qualifying session.
ec: What promotional goals could come out of an event like the GTGP as opposed to the World Challenge, showing how strong and relevant Volvo really is ?
JH: We get so focused on WC that sometimes we forget to look and participate in other events. It’s always interesting to see what others are doing, especially the time attack cars. The guys building these cars can be very inventive and very fast so it is always educational. We are working on a performance package for the Volvo C30 and S60. The packages will only be available through Volvo dealers starting in 2011. We are also building two C30s for the 2011 World Challenge Touring Class. We wanted to start showcasing our cars and performance capabilities at other venues.
JH: The GTGP taught us a lot about the capabilities of the tuners out there. It was fun for the crew and drivers as a year-end event with no restrictions on the car. We got humbled a bit by the performance of the others, they are that good. It rained on and off during the event, so we learned a tremendous amount about our racecars in the rain. We had never raced these cars in the wet and learned we have issues in the rain with the AWD system. We ran on Pirelli slicks (these will be the World Challenge tires for 2011), learned a lot about the tires and how they affect our brakes. We have issues there also. It was an inaugural event, with huge potential that can draw both from the professional and tuner fields with the different classes. They had front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive classes and then three classes within each class, Unlimited, Tuner and Street. We ran in the Unlimited AWD class for the time-trial event. We took two cars. We set one up for the time-trial and set one up for the 50-minute races. Andy Pilgrim won the Unlimited AWD time-trial event. He had the best time of all the classes.
- Kerry Morse