Few doubted Alec Udell's driving ability entering his first full season of Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GTA class competition in the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. After all, despite being only 21 years-old, the resident of The Woodlands, Texas had made his professional debut at the this same St. Petersburg, Florida street circuit at age 15 six years ago. Last season, he won the PWC GT Cup Championship racing for the same GMG program that is preparing the car this season. But few expected the Clemson University junior to score convincing GTA class victories in both 50-minute races this weekend. But that is exactly what Udell did.
The 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit is not a gentle track to open a championship run for a rookie driver. And the GT/GTA races are some of the most hotly contested and physical battles to be found in all of motorsports. However, Udell was quickly up to speed in the rear-engine Porsche draped in the colors of the university at which Udell studies Mechanical Engineering. Taking the GTA class pole position for Round 1 of the 10-race Sprint Championship, the Texan wasted little time in fighting his way to the front of the class. Having started 13th overall, Udell moved up four positions by the checkered flag to finish as the winner of the GTA category and ninth-overall.
With the grid for Sunday afternoon's race being set by virtue of fastest race lap in Round 1, Udell found himself taking the green flag 11th overall but again on the GTA pole position. Like the day before, he wasted no time in moving to the front. As he guided the Euroworld Motorsport-owned 911 GT3 R into Turn 1, Udell gave no quarter and was not intimidated by the hard driving tactics of the seasoned professionals. By the conclusion of the first lap, the blue and orange machine was in the top-five overall, a gain of six positions and handily in charge of the GTA category. He spent several laps in a heated battle with the 2016 GT Champion Alvaro Parente before reluctantly giving over the position to the veteran. Udell would eventually take sixth overall but secure his second GTA class win in as many races.
The 2015 Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate now has 17 Pirelli World Challenge class victories on his resume. 15 in the GT Cup category driving a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, and now two more in the next step up the ladder of North America's premier sprint format GT sports car racing series.
With his engineer's mind, it would be easy to think Udell is calculating his path to his first-ever GTA Championship. However, having received his first go-kart at the age of five, he is a racer first. Therefore, don't expect him to back off the throttle to focus on championship points at this early stage of the season. Udell will have his next opportunity to race for both a class and an overall win at Round 3 on another street course, this time across the country in Long Beach, California, on April 9.
2017 is the third season Udell partners with Euroworld Motorsports (www.euroworldmotorsports.com). Euroworld is the country's only certified automotive carbon fiber repair facility. Based in Houston, they are one of Texas's leading European auto repair and performance facility.
Alec Udell |
about the overall challenge of GT racing |
"The GT class in Pirelli World Challenge has been my toughest competition to date. We're out there fighting from green to checkered at 110% on a street course no less. When 15 GT3-spec cars on the grid are covered by less than one second in lap time differences, you know you're in a strong field and nearly any one of those cars could take the win. Not only are the drivers top caliber, but so are the teams. When you're running against full factory teams such as Cadillac and Acura it's all you can do to keep in mind that you've got to do the best with what you bring to the table. I think my crew chief Nev Agass, of GMG Racing, and I showed that we're equally as capable with my Euroworld Porsche as any of the other teams out there. That gives me great confidence continuing into the season."
about lessons learned at St. Petersburg |
"I was nervous. St. Pete is a tricky place to drive at let alone race with several other world-class talented drivers. I spent about two hours Friday night before I went to bed reviewing my qualifying data from the day, watching my laps from the qualifier, and re-watching last year's race starts. I wanted to make sure I had peace of mind going into Race One that I was fully prepared for the challenges at hand. The results we had represent that we came ready to show what we were capable of, and didn't leave anything on the table."
Frank Lee, Principal, Euroworld Motorsports, about the program's successful launch |
"We could not be happier with this weekend's result. Alec performed even better than expected in the Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. GMG Racing continues to prove themselves the class of the field in their work and support of our car. The racing was close and intense and provided the level of excitement that makes the Pirelli World Challenge the best series in the country to race! We are very grateful for the support of our fans and clients that continue to make this program possible. 2017 is shaping up to be a very special season!"
About Alec Udell |
Alec Udell is a junior studying engineering at Clemson University. The 21 year-old from The Woodlands, Texas began his racing career in karting at age five. He went on to win the Rotax National Points Championship in 2008 and represented his country as part of Team USA in Egypt in the World Championships in 2009. By 2011, he made history by becoming, at the time, the Pirelli World Challenge's youngest ever competitor at age 15. He has 15 career Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup class wins entering the season and is the 2016 PWC GT Cup Champion.