HENRIQUE CISNEROS, NGT MOTORSPORT WIN GOLD CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
BRASELTON, GEORGIA (October 1, 2010) -- Henrique Cisneros, driving the #26 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car, clinched the 2010 Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama Gold Cup class championship with a second place finish in Round 13 at Road Atlanta.
Competing with his two brothers in the series for the first time, Cisneros earned the championship with a steady season that saw him secure a podium spot in 11 of 14 races, including victories in both races at Mid- Ohio in August.
"The whole season has been incredible," said Cisneros. "It's exceeded my expectations. The level of drivers in this series is amazing. I'm glad that in my rookie year I was able to win the championship - the team worked really hard at it so I appreciate their help and support! I can't wait to have the trophy in my hand, maybe it will sink in then."
The Cisneros brothers (including older brothers Eduardo and Andres) began their racing careers innocently enough, by attending driving schools in their personal cars. But their competitive nature opened the door to the most insidious of all viruses: the racing bug.
"We started out doing the driving events with our street cars, with an instructor riding with you. But we're very competitive we kept modifying our cars to make them faster. So now we're driving to work in cars that have roll cages and racing bucket seats that are really uncomfortable and we said, we can't keep doing this, let's go into a Cup car. We weren't really going after the racing, we just wanted to get into a safer car, one that we could enjoy and felt that we could push."
The brothers joined NGT Motorsport, a Miami-based team owned by Ramez Wahab, running local Porsche events before deciding to make the jump to the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama this year. The plan was to take it easy the first season, learn the cars and the series and take it from there. But for Cisneros, the plan that started out so seemingly reasonable at the start of the season grew as the year progressed until winning the championship was not only possible, but quite probable.
"Ramez thought we had enough raw talent to really start racing, so he convinced us to join IMSA, do a couple of races and play it by ear. We had so much fun at the first race that we knew we had to do the whole season.
"I never expected to be anywhere near the top 10. Coming into the season, I was a rookie and had very little experience. My brothers and I, all we wanted to do was to perform well enough to actually race with the other drivers. The results, starting with Sebring (a third and a second) were really surprising, because every race has been a very steep learning curve for me. Just improving my race craft and learning how to read other drivers as the season goes on, you learn the other drivers' styles and for me, that was most important in understanding how to be a good racer and how to be safe out there."
But before their racing careers could begin in earnest, the learning curve had to become manageable; enter Team Falken GT driver Wolf Henzler.
"We'd never been to any of the tracks, except for Sebring, which is our home track all the rest were brand new to us. Racing is pretty time consuming, so we never have any time to practice or see the tracks ahead of time. But Wolf has played a huge roll in our development. With the level of coaching we've received, we were able to learn from the first session to the second session - immediately seeing improvements of a couple of seconds just from watching him, watching his videos, having him critique us and looking at the data. Without him, we wouldn't be the drivers we are today, without a doubt."
Now that the season is over, the championship is won and presumably, it's all sunk in, how far up will the ante go for Henrique Cisneros and his brothers? About as high as one would expect.
"Our plan is to do a complete GT3 season next year, as well as do select ALMS races, like Sebring, Laguna Seca and Petit Le Mans, and there are thoughts of doing Le Mans and Nurburgring in the Porsche Supercup
"And we want to keep getting better as long as we're having fun!"
The Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama features semi-professional drivers racing head to head in one of the world's most successful race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. As a developmental series designed to prepare drivers and teams for professional careers in sports car racing, the multi-class structure of the series teaches drivers essential skills for an eventual career in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron.
The series is broken into two classes, with the Platinum Cup Class featuring the more powerful 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car. The Gold Cup Class includes 2005½ - 2009 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
The Speed TV production of Rounds 13 and 14 from Road Atlanta is scheduled to air on Sunday, October 24 at Midnight. Visit www.imsachallenge.com for the latest track schedule and updates.