Third annual event at Barber Motorsports Park gives training off-track, too.
Porsche is continuing its longstanding legacy of recognizing and developing young talent, as five standout North American drivers learned to hone their skills on and off the track during the third annual Young Driver Academy Oct. 19-20 at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama.
Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) and Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) invited Scott Hargrove (in photo above), Austin Cindric, Elliott Skeer, Colin Thompson and Sloan Urry to participate in the two-day, all-encompassing program.
Hargrove, Thompson and Urry are veterans of the North American one-make IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championships. Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, won the 2014 season title in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin. Thompson, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, won the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship in 2014. Urry, from Park City, Utah, finished fourth in the USA series in 2014 and second in 2013.
Skeer, from San Diego, made his debut in 2014 in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and is a multiple race winner in entry-level single-make North American sports car competition. Cindric, from Mooresville, North Carolina, completed his second junior open-wheel championship season in North America and raced in Red Bull Global Rallycross in 2014 after extensive, successful short-track oval and karting experience.
North American drivers get behind-the-scenes training
The Young Driver Academy provides promising North American drivers with an opportunity to reap the numerous benefits of a program based on Porsche's European Junior selection process. PMNA and PCNA emphasize evaluation and development of the young drivers during the Academy, with the goal of discovering and nurturing talent in the United States and Canada that can reach maximum potential.
"We are now in our third year of the Porsche Young Driver Academy here in North America," said PMNA president and CEO Jens Walther. "In that time, we have welcomed many of the sports' top young talents to Barber Motorsports Park, and we continue to witness their progress up the ladder of sports car racing. While those invited are part of a small sampling of the remarkable driving talent available in the United States and Canada, we are proud to see the graduates of this program competing worldwide. This is not a competition but an opportunity for these drivers to learn skills that will provide ongoing benefit to their racing career both on and off the racetrack. We have seen the results in the success of the first two years. This year's class promises to have that same level of impact on the future of motorsports."
The comprehensive Academy experience includes classroom training in racing technique and media/sponsor relations, as well as off-track driver skill evaluation. All five drivers also will turn laps on the challenging 17-turn, 2.38-mile circuit at Barber Motorsports Park in identically prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
Classroom and track instruction will be led by Porsche racing legend and lead Porsche Sport Driving School instructor Hurley Haywood, Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and GT racing champion Andrew Davis. Owen Hayes, director of operations for Porsche Motorsports North America, Dave Engelman, media relations manager - Motorsports and Brand Heritage, and other Porsche representatives and industry professionals also will provide training and evaluation.
First two classes have accomplished graduates
The first two classes from the Young Driver Academy have continued to advance their careers at a high level of performance, further emphasizing Porsche's commitment to identifying and developing talent in North America.
Class of 2013 members David Ostella and Madison Snow climbed to the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in the 2014 season. Ostella drove in the Prototype Challenge class for Performance Tech Motorsports. Snow raced in the GT Daytona class with Snow Racing in a Porsche 911 GT America car.
Fellow Class of 2013 members Angel Benitez Jr. and Michael Lewis finished second and third, respectively, in the ultra-competitive Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship.
2012 Young Driver Academy participant Sean Johnston raced for the second consecutive season in 2014 in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup Germany with Team Project 1.
Fellow 2012 participant Cooper MacNeil won the 2013 American Le Mans Series GTC championship in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, raced in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche and finished third in the GT Daytona class championship of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship driving a Porsche 911 GT America. Another member of the Class of 2012, Kyle Marcelli, competed in a wide variety of elite-level machinery in 2014, including Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona in the TUDOR Championship, and in a Porsche in the Grand Sport class of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
The final member of the 2012 class, Spencer Pigot, finished third in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin and won the Pro Mazda junior open-wheel championship.