OGH/Valkyrie Velocity returns to action for rounds three and four of the Pirelli GT4 America championship this weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park with a continued three-car effort, with a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport in each of the Pro-Am, Silver and Am classes of the championship.
Like the season opener at Sonoma, Chris Walsh and Dominic Starkweather will share the No. 96 wear blue/Beacon Building Products Porsche Cayman in the Silver class with Sam Owen and Sean Gibbons back behind the wheel of the No. 97 OGH/Valkyrie Porsche Cayman in the Am class. Rob Ferriol is joined at NOLA by season-long co-driver Will Owen in the No. 97 GridRival/Valkyrie Porsche Cayman in the Pro-Am class, with team owner Ferriol as the bronze driver to Owen’s gold rating.
The weekend features a pair of hour-long races, one at 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday, April 29, and one at 11:30 a.m. CDT on Sunday, April 30. The official weekend calendar begins with a pair of 45-minute practice sessions on Friday, followed by qualifying on Saturday morning at 10:20 CDT to set the grids for the pair of races. Each race can be seen live on the series’ YouTube channel at Youtube.com/GTWorld.
OGH/Valkyrie Velocity News and Notes
- OGH/Valkyrie Velocity drivers have had past success at the 2.67-mile circuit on the outskirts of New Orleans. Starkweather was on the podium in the Silver class a season ago, while Will Owen’s success dates back to his 2015 debut in Pro Mazda on the Road To Indy open-wheel ladder where he earned a podium finish.
- Conversely, both Ferriol and Walsh will be making their first appearances at NOLA Motorsports Park. Gibbons and Sam Owen both competed in Pirelli GT4 America during the rainy weekend a year ago.
- The season-opener at Sonoma was the first under the Valkyrie Velocity platform for Ferriol’s team, which combines the Hardpoint motorsports resources with the AI-solutions company Valkyrie. For the Pirelli GT4 America season, that partnership includes OGH Motorsports. Both Valkyrie and OGH are based in Texas, with Valkyrie calling Austin, home of rounds five and six at Circuit of the Americas, home.
- Starkweather and Walsh left the opening doubleheader sixth in the Silver class points following a pair of sixth-place finishes in Sonoma. Ferriol is sixth in the Pro-Am class, while Gibbons and Sam Owen share the ninth spot in Am.
- While Walsh and his partners at wear blue: run to remember will make their maiden voyage at NOLA Motorsports Park, the non-profit running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military is already looking forward to the next race at Circuit of the Americas. There, as many as 20 Gold Star children who have lost a parent in their military service will be on hand, along with their program designated mentors. Walsh was introduced to the program as a mentor himself, where he helped wear blue founder Lisa Hallett’s son, Bryce, after the death of his father in Afghanistan.
- Walsh remains an active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force, currently stationed at Hurlburt Field in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.
- Sam Owen and Gibbons each had highlights in the opening weekend. Owen ran as high as third-place in class during the opening stint of Saturday’s race, and Gibbons led the charge forward on Sunday as they improved four spots from qualifying.
- Ferriol made his Pirelli GT4 America debut after several seasons in GT3 machinery. Ferriol began his career in the Porsche Club of America, and has raced in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Porsche 911 GT3 R and now the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport RS.
- Will Owen makes his GT-racing debut this weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park. The former open-wheel driver has driven prototypes since his switch to sports car racing, finishing second twice in the European Le Mans Series and landing on the podium at Le Mans in 2018.
OGH/Valkyrie Velocity Quote Board
Rob Ferriol, Team Owner and Driver, No. 95 Porsche Cayman: “This is a weekend where we’ll have some variables that we need to continue to work through, but it will be nice to have Will behind the wheel and provide a new perspective to the car. We’ll need to work together to share experiences, as it’s my first time at NOLA but his first time in the car. Putting together all of those pieces is going to be important, but it’s something we have the ability to do. We have the opportunity to make this a great weekend, not only for Will and I but for all of the Valkyrie Velocity cars.”
Will Owen, Driver, No. 95 Porsche Cayman: “I can't wait to make my GT4 racing debut in NOLA in the No. 95 car with Rob. It definitely feels like I’m diving into the deep end with such a competitive 40-plus car field. I have experience driving with a lot of traffic from sportscars, but adapting to the sprint mindset will definitely be important along with understanding the racing in GT4. I am not underestimating the difficulty of any of these changes. I fortunately do have experience at NOLA, and it reminds me a lot of my early days of open wheel in the Road to Indy winter series where I also had to dive into the deep end! I can't wait to start conquering this car and this weekend with the Valkyrie Velocity team.”
Chris Walsh, Driver, No. 96 Porsche Cayman: "I am for this weekend. We came off a tough weekend at Sonoma with unfortunate timing of our pit strategy, but it was a great learning experience for myself and the team. We gained a lot of ground on the car setup side and the Valkyrie Velocity team prepared a great car. We should have an excellent starting point headed to NOLA. This weekend will be another new track for me, but I feel ready to hit the ground running with the simulator prep I have been doing. Dominic and I are ready to display our potential and battle for the podium this weekend. As always, I am excited to have the Valkyrie Velocity team behind me as well as my Wear Blue: Run to Remember family. It is an honor to represent them and I plan to do that from the front of the field."
Dominic Starkweather, Driver, No. 96 Porsche Cayman: I’ve got some high hopes for this weekend. Nola is a fast track with some pretty fun rhythm. It's a small place with not a ton of passing so qualifying is going to be important. I believe the team understands the pit strategy now and can use that as more of a weapon. Coming off the podium last year definitely carries over and gives me a ton of confidence, so I'm ready for the battle with Chris. With the podium last year and the pace we had at the end of Sonoma, I'm really expecting a podium if not a win this weekend.
Sean Gibbons, Driver No. 97 Porsche Cayman: “We learned a lot in the opener at Sonoma, and I’m looking forward to NOLA with a race under our belts as OGH/Valkyrie Velocity. Last year the sky was ominous, dumping down rain and our results didn’t match our pace. Sam and I head back this year intent on different results! You never know what the weather brings there during the Spring, but we feel prepared for anything we can get. We had really good pace at Sonoma, and with just a couple of tweaks we have a chance to be in the mix this weekend.”
Sam Owen, Driver, No. 97 Porsche Cayman: “NOLA is a track that is going to fit our cars really well. It’s very fast. There are only probably two or three turns that are slower. It’s a pace track, it’s a flowy track. It is high commitment and you can’t lift in places, you just have to go and trust the car. We’ll have to make sure we put the car in the right position on the track, and it can be really fast. The setup is important, but we can have a really good showing this weekend. I can’t wait.”