by Tim Collier

With the start of a new season, emotions and expectations are high, especially after the success of the Champion Motorsports GT3 Series in Season One which saw an average of 45 cars on the grid each race! It didn’t take long to see that the excitement for the new season was never in doubt as 58 cars joined in for the season opener at Sebring International Raceway for the start of Season Two!

With such a large field, qualifying was extremely important and after the 2-lap, 10 minute session it was Christian Youngwall taking the pole position with a 1:59.411 lap, edging out Victor Tanaka by a mere 0.042 seconds!! In the AM Class it was last season’s Daytona class winner Scott Kennedy taking the class pole and starting in 8th place overall, with Joshua Burke starting second in class and 12th overall. As the grid formed and moved out of the final turn, the green lights put the official stamp on the start of the 10-race season.

The field of 58 cars takes the start and into Turn 1 to kick off the season!

Youngwall and Tanaka would lead the field to the green flag, and on the front start DJ Alessandrini would time his start and pull to the inside of last season’s champion, Michael Parker and move into third place entering Turn 1. Behind them, contact between cars caused trouble for several others, and while the majority of the field made it through, others were not so lucky and began their hunt back through the field. As the field completed the first lap, Youngwall led Tanaka in Pro while Kennedy stuck around in the Top 10 to keep the AM class lead.

With a field this size, battles for position happened throughout the field, and the time flew by quickly for most until the first pit stops inside the fueling window started around Lap 15. Some were seeking an undercut, others were playing tire strategies, and positions were swapping up and down the order. Youngwall would take his stop on Lap 24, relinquishing the lead to James Gong, but only for one lap when Gong would pit putting Youngwall back in the lead, but only 5 seconds ahead of Alessandrini who was now in second with CMS veteran Paul Darling in third.

At the checkered flag, it would be Youngwall taking his first win of the season by just under 5 seconds over Alessandrini in second place, and Tanaka grabbing that last podium step in Pro and overall.

Christian Youngwall takes the overall and Pro class win to start the season!

In the AM Class, Kennedy had a quick pace and managed to move all the way up into the 5th position overall just before pitting. He would come out of the pits in 12th overall but within a couple of laps he was back in 5th and in the class lead and would win the AM class by just under 44 seconds over Burke, who held off a charging Zach Sternhagen to finish second in class and 13th overall, with Sternhagen in third in class just 5 seconds back. All three podium finishers in the AM class showed exceptional pace and racecraft, finishing ahead of several Pro class drivers in this endurance length event.

The AM Class winner, Scott Kennedy, exiting Turn 17 as the sun sets late in the race

This race saw some carnage early, but only 9 DNFs in the event, leaving 49 cars running at the finish which is a testament to the level of commitment and comradery found in this series and at Champion Motorsports!

Our second race of the season will take place across the Atlantic to Hungary, a visit to the nearly 40-year-old circuit, the Hungaroring. This 2.72-mile circuit has two main straights which are quite narrow, and a string of mid to low speed turns that will make the balancing act for aero balance quite interesting. This race will take place on March 29th.

At the moment, this series is no longer taking applications, but we will be setting up a registration list for those who are interested and as spots open up, you will be contacted. For more information visit our GT3 Sprint Series page and come join us in the #league-info-weds channel on our Discord.

We are also live broadcasting as many of the races as we can. Check out the broadcast from Sebring!