at Palm Beach Grand Prix
Third Full-Season of Competition Kicks Off With Pirelli as New Sponsor and Exclusive Tire Supplier
The all-new Pirelli Cayman Interseries Endurance Cup Championship will make its official debut at this weekend’s Palm Beach Grand Prix at Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR), February 17 – 19, where the world’s only racing series that pays tribute to Porsche’s accomplished motorsports history will begin its third full-season of competition.
In addition to the first appearance of the series at PBIR, this weekend’s race marks the debut of Pirelli Tire North America as the new title sponsor of the Pirelli Cayman Interseries Endurance Cup Championship. The new partnership calls for the Pirelli P Zero racing slick to become the official and series-standard tire in all series races, and for Pirelli to work closely with series organizers in enhancing both competitor incentive programs and series-related marketing and advertising initiatives.
A competitive field of both returning and debuting drivers this weekend will be led by two-time reigning Pirelli Cayman Interseries Champion Lee Davis and multiple series race winner Mark Sandridge.
Davis, who lives in nearby Highland Beach, Florida, is back behind the wheel of his black and red No. 33 Cayman S that carries the colors of a Brun Motorsport Porsche 956 and Luna-C Clothing. Davis, partnering with coach and co-driver Ryan Eversley, won both the Pirelli Cayman Interseries Sprint and Endurance Championships last year in addition to garnering his first Endurance title in 2010.
Sandridge, who drives a white and red-and-yellow striped No. 49 Cayman S that is modeled after his 1994 IMSA Champion Team Salad Porsche 911 RSR, is expected to run his first full Pirelli Cayman Interseries season. If so, Sandridge, and his coach and co-driver Joe Varde, will certainly give Davis and Eversley their strongest challenge as they seek another set of series championships.
A debuting driver who could factor into the race-winning mix from the beginning is veteran and winning road racer Chris Gleason. He will race the yellow No. 55 Cayman S, which is themed after a David Piper Racing/Sandeman Porsche 917K, a car that was driven to five race victories last season.
Like Davis, Gleason most recently raced in GRAND-AM Challenge Series competition where he co-drove to several overall race wins. Gleason also joins racing peers Varde and Pirelli Cayman Interseries Official Driving Coach Jack Baldwin in having an accomplished racing resume that includes Formula Atlantic competition and extensive sports car experience, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona and two appearances in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Others to watch in the Palm Beach Grand Prix include returning driver Ron Rashinski and Ed Napleton, who is set for his third-consecutive Pirelli Cayman Interseries race weekend after debuting last October at the Rennsport Reunion.
Rashinski will make his first Pirelli Cayman Interseries start since running the opening rounds of 2011 in his blue and yellow No. 6 Cayman S, which pays tribute to the mighty Sunoco/Penske Racing Porsche 917-30. He earned his first trip to the victory lane podium in last year’s opener at Sebring with a third-place sprint race result.
Napleton scored a second-place sprint race finish in the Sportsman class at 2011’s season-ending race weekend at Daytona and returns at Palm Beach in his No. 1 Cayman S that features a special carbon-fiber gray “prototype” livery.
After opening practice on Friday, the first race in the Pirelli Cayman Interseries era will be a 45-minute non-points night enduro that evening. Saturday morning qualifying will be followed by the first of the weekend’s two points-paying sprint races that afternoon. The second sprint closes the Pirelli Cayman Interseries schedule Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. and follows the featured “points” Enduro earlier in the day.
The Pirelli Cayman Interseries Endurance Cup Championship is open only to 2009 to 2012 Porsche Cayman S models that are raced in near-stock configuration by a competitive group of emerging and established drivers that typically own the cars they drive. A connection to Porsche’s rich racing heritage is made through each Cayman’s livery that has a direct and visible link to a legendary Porsche race car from the past. Each Cayman’s throw-back color scheme is also matched with a corresponding Cayman chassis number, which means the history of some of the most memorable Porsche race cars will symbolically continue with an all-new chapter in the Cayman Interseries. Napleton Porsche of Westmont is the exclusive supplier and preparation shop for the Porsche Cayman S race cars used in the series, although the series is open to any team or driver that wants to purchase a car from Napleton and get in on the action.