Petaluma, CA (March 3rd, 2015) … The Lone Star state plays host to the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season opener this coming weekend at the world famous Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. This 3.4-mile undulating racetrack features dramatic, natural elevation changes, including a 133-foot climb to its signature Turn 1. TRG-AMR has some great history at the young track, having taken the pole here last year in IMSA TUDOR competition and a win back in 2013. The epic victory here at COTA in 2013 included one of the best GT battles in recent history, running nose-to-tail for the last full hour with TRG coming out on top after the dramatic engagement.
The 20 turn circuit is sure to be a challenge for all the drivers on track, though the high-speed sweepers and elevation changes suit the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and GT4 models. Developed on high-speed, technical tracks such as Silverstone, Spa, and the famed Circuit de la Sarthe, both the V12 Vantage GT3 and V8 Vantage GT4 find themselves at home on tracks such as the Tilke-built COTA, also home to the United States Formula One Grand Prix.
The racing is sure to be intense with more than 100 cars now entered in the season opener. Manufacturers from all over the world are embracing the chance to compete in what has become the largest professional-tier car count in all North American racing. Leveraging the successful GT3 Global Formula, Pirelli World Challenge has helped usher in a new era of North American sports car racing that has been warmly received by the racing community. With this comes a revamped television package, this time with CBS Sports and even featuring a Live Broadcast component.
TRG-AMR brings with it an ever-impressive stable of drivers, hailing from different backgrounds and all corners of the world. Racing in the series GT class is Danish GT star Christina Nielsen, piloting the No. 7 V12 Vantage GT3. The electric blue Aston Martin will surely be a sight (and sound) to be remembered. Driving the No. 09 Aston Martin of Austin V12 Vantage GT3 is Ferrari Challenge Champion and Austin native Mark McKenzie. Mark, whose company Ranger Excavating performed all the award-winning grading work during the COTA construction process, jokes that he has an unfair advantage as he knows each and every piece of the track’s layout from the ground up – literally! The GT and GTA field is incredibly competitive, undoubtedly more so than in previous years. Both TRG-AMR drivers will have a challenging weekend ahead of them, though they look forward to the strong competition.
In GTS, Canadian star Max Riddle brings his No. 07 V8 Vantage GT4 to the fight, fresh from testing and a strong performance at Daytona in late January driving in the Continental Tire GS race and the Rolex 24 in the 009 car. Max brings with him a wealth of racing experience and incredible car control, as well as being referred to by the team as the “Canadian Kimi” for his incredibly calm and cool demeanor. Driving the companion TRG-AMR GTS entry is longtime team driver and sportscar veteran Derek DeBoer in the No. 09 Lex Tempus/BlackRider/BRM Chronographes/DriverWebsites.com/Petrol Lounge V8 Vantage GT4. Hailing from Medford, Oregon, Derek runs a large dealership group and was a professional wakeboarder before catching the racing bug. Derek brings with him an impressive array of partners, notably Austin’s Shane Sterling the owner and founder of the BlackRider Racing Group, who helped build the collection of partners and sponsors on the No. 09 GTS car this weekend. Both TRG-AMR GTS entries are planned for the full season of competition and incredibly strong cars with capable drivers. Expect to see both these Astons running for the championship all season long.
TRG-AMR heads into the season-opening race following the grueling Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona followed by a month of rebuilding the cars and equipment and testing at Sonoma, Buttonwillow, and Thunderhill racetracks. Never known for resting on its laurels, TRG-AMR heads immediately to Florida for two weeks of more racing and events that include the tortuous 12 Hours of Sebring and the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The team is planning an incredible event at St. Petersburg, having secured the Dali museum for viewing and entertainment throughout the weekend. Click here to read more about this incredible experience.
As is the norm with TRG-AMR, more than a few events are planned throughout the race weekend, kicking off with an appearance on the local CBS affiliate news station KEYE. Making appearances will be Shane Sterling and Sonny Morgan. Sterling is a Texas entrepreneur and principal of the Black Rider Racing Group, the primary partner on the 09 GTS entry fielded by TRG-AMR Team Driver Derek DeBoer and Morgan is the dealer principal of Austin’s impressive Aston Martin dealership.
Thursday night takes the team to Morgan’s Aston Martin of Austin dealership for a fun evening of food, Adobe Road wine, and the chance to meet and chat with Team Owner Kevin Buckler and the individual racing drivers and to see one of the team’s racecars on display. Click here to view the invitation.
Friday night will be a great chance to see the team soaking up the Austin nightlife, with a fun evening of food and drink at the Petrol Lounge, Austin’s exclusive exotic and collector car storage facility. The event is meant to showcase Shane Sterling’s Black Rider Racing Group, team driver Derek DeBoer and his No. 09 V8 Vantage GT4, running the full season of GTS competition in Pirelli World Challenge. The event starts at 6pm and will feature Adobe Road wines and some good ol’ Texas BBQ courtesy of Rudy’s. Click here to view the invitation and here to RSVP.
And finally, Saturday evening the group heads on down to Bob’s Steak and Chophouse for an elegant evening of Adobe Road wines paired with what is sure to be an incredible dinner. Surely an event not to be missed, dinner begins at 7:15pm with cocktails starting at 6:30pm. A few spaces remain – please click here to view the invitation and here to reserve your spot.
Christina Nielsen, Team Driver, TRG-AMR North America: “It is such an incredible feeling going into the season opener at COTA. When I first ran with Pirelli World Challenge last year at Sonoma, it felt like the right place to be. Such a great series during a time when North American sportscar racing is exploding. I am really happy to be a part of the team along with a great car. I feel like this is going to be a great to start to an even better season.”
Mark McKenzie, Team Driver, TRG-AMR North America: “What an event. This is going to be a great weekend. I love this track and know every inch of it. I can’t wait to see what the V12 Vantage GT3 feels like going through some of these massively fast and technical sections of the track. I was testing at Sonoma a few weeks back and was amazed at how well this car performs and behaves the more you throw at it. I’m sure I’ve got a capable car with an obviously proven and capable team. Now it’s time to put it all together.”
Max Riddle, Team Driver, TRG-AMR North America: “What a great track – I am really looking forward to seeing how my car handles this track. The boys have been at the shop getting this beast into race form with some upgrades that World Challenge allows – I can’t wait to see how the car takes the changes. Thanks to the team for giving me a great crew and a great car – really looking forward to my first full season of Pirelli World Challenge competition.”
Derek DeBoer, Team Driver, TRG-AMR North America: “I can’t wait for the race to start, it will be not only the start of what is sure to be a great race, but also signifies the start of my first full season effort in World Challenge competition. To be paired with such a great car and such a great team is truly a blessing. I’m excited to see where this season goes and am so thankful for Shane, BlackRider, and all our partners that have come together to help make this a reality.”
Shane Sterling, Principal, BlackRider Racing Group: “Starting the season off in Austin couldn’t be a better fit for our program. Great track, amazing facilities – it’s the perfect place to bring partners and sponsors and show them the power of motorsports. Derek (DeBoer) is the perfect driver to pilot the 09 – he’s fast, consistent, and a clean, smart driver. He also understands the need to support all of our partners to make this happen, which he does incredibly well. Without them, this program wouldn’t have become a reality. We’re looking onward at our first full season in Pirelli World Challenge and see it as a building year, a year to learn, improve, and grow – fighting for that top step on the podium the whole way.”
Kevin Buckler, CEO, TRG-AMR North America: “We’ve got such an incredibly busy week planned for COTA. Television appearances, wine dinners and events across town and some really incredible drivers and their race cars. This is going to be a fantastic racing weekend and all four of these drivers are ready and on their “A” game. We are also bringing a dynamic group of partners looking to leverage the opportunities we are bringing to the sportscar paddock. We are having incredible success from the standpoint of doing exactly what we’ve been talking about for years – true B2B, relationship building, connecting the dots, and giving people a truly once in a lifetime amazing experience. As we’ve said before – we are at a “Magic Moment” in sportscar racing right now. I’ve never seen such a surge in the sport and all the opportunities that surround it, both from the fans and from the real-world sponsors wanting to get involved. Our Aston Martin racecars are amazing, and the guys have spent the last month testing and perfecting theses cars back at the shop and we are heading there to win.”