Sebastian Priaulx leaves COTA retaining the lead of the 2021 Porsche Carrera Cup North America championship after a hard fought pair of 45 minute, no holds barred sprint races on the challenging 5.5km, 20 turn internationally renowned circuit. The young Briton was making his Texas debut but topped the timesheets in every pre-event test session, so expectations were high for strong results as the official race meeting kicked-off. But the competition is fierce and the talent pool deep in North America’s premier one-make series, and so Priaulx had to fight hard for two podiums and a pole position, the points from which keep him at the top of the Championship standings, seven points clear of his Kelly-Moss Racing team mate and closest rival, Kay van Berlo.
Inclement weather got in on the racing action in the normally arid Austin area, making for a damp and cold start to the first of the two sprint races. It initially caused the cancellation of Qualifying but this played into Priaulx’s hands as the grid was set based on Championship positions, placing him on pole. The race then began behind the safety car as the track was deemed too treacherous to attempt a conventional green flag start. Once the safety car pitted and the Porsches were unleashed, the Dutchman, van Berlo, got the jump on Priaulx at the extremely challenging Turn 1, before two more cars got through, albeit by taking a questionable line through the massive expanse of the corner. Seb then set off after the top three and made an outstanding move on the highly experienced Porsche specialist Leh Keen to secure third place before his progress was arrested by the Safety Car being deployed once again, so that a stranded car could be removed from a gravel trap.
With only 10 minutes to go the race went green with the sun now shining and the track getting faster every lap. A closely matched top three raced to the line with van Berlo losing the lead in sight of the finish line and Priaulx taking fastest lap attempting to chase him down but having to settle for third, with no pressure from behind.
The fastest lap gave Priaulx pole position for the second race, with the attendant five championship points, and things kicked off with the more conventional waving of the green flag on a dry track, but this time Sebby didn’t repeat the mistake of a few hours before and owned the challenging first turn, taking off at pace, immediately pulling out a three second gap to van Berlo in second place. He led the race for just over 20 minutes but then slowly but surely the Dutchman reeled him in and took the lead with 25 minutes of the race remaining. The Kelly-Moss team mates ran to the chequered flag in that 1-2 order with Priaulx doing a superb job of holding off a strongly charging Riley Dickinson in the last laps, as the tyres on his #15 Multimatic Porsche started to go off.
“I want to be winning,” said Priaulx. “It just wasn’t there for us this weekend but we’ll go away and work out why so that we can come back at Watkins Glen and get back to the top of the podium. Considering I couldn’t get the wins I’ve actually come out of the weekend fairly unscathed in terms of the Championship so we’ll push hard now to increase the momentum and get back to our winning ways!”