By Mark Robinson IMSA Wire Service
Fittingly, the final race of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season came down to a duel between Jeff Kingsley and Riley Dickinson.
The Platinum Cup front-runners throughout 2020, Kingsley and Dickinson battled throughout the second race of the day Friday afternoon at Sebring International Raceway. It was Kingsley who orchestrated the decisive move with 13 minutes remaining in the 45-minute race, diving his No. 16 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car inside Dickinson’s No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche for the race lead on the 17th turn.
Kingsley went on to win by 4.977 seconds and punctuate a championship season that included 11 race wins. After tying Dickinson for the third-most points in GT3 Cup Challenge USA competition last year, Kingsley finished with a 31-point gap on his chief rival in 2020.
“Amazing!” Kingsley said. “I’m at a loss for words partly because I’ve been waiting for this day and partly because I’m absolutely exhausted. I can’t thank Kelly-Moss enough, Children’s Hospital of Alabama, my mom and dad – they worked so hard for this, to get me racing – and my girlfriend. I’d like to thank IMSA, Porsche, Yokohama, everyone who made this possible.”
Dickinson won four races this season, including Friday morning’s opener at Sebring, and was saluted by Kingsley for the stiff competition.
“Riley gave me a bit of a door (to make the pass for the win in Race 2),” Kingsley said. “A bit unexpected but I took what was ours and just moved forward. He’s been a tough competitor all year.”
Alan Metni finished third overall in the No. 99 Kelly-Moss/AM Motorsports Porsche to claim the win in the Platinum Masters class for drivers 45 and older. It capped Metni’s third straight Masters championship with his 10th class win in 16 races.
“It was a great season, a lot of fun,” Metni said. “I enjoyed racing with all my buddies and teammates and competitors and friends. Really thankful that we were able to do this in the middle of a pandemic. I thought IMSA and Porsche did a really great job of keeping it safe and keeping it fun.
“It’s just a really high level of competition, and it’s a great place to learn. All the cars are exactly the same, so there’s no concern about who’s got a better car. It’s all down to the skill of the driver and that makes it probably the best place to learn.”
Efrin Castro was victorious in Race 2 in the Gold Cup class and earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for passing the most cars in the No. 65 TPC Racing Porsche. Castro collected six wins this season.
“I was thinking in the last few laps that I can’t believe it’s the end of the season,” Castro said. “I learned so much battling with my friends, because they are my friends. We drive hard in the car, but outside we all get along and we are like a family. It was just a great year.”
The Gold Cup championship went to Curt Swearingin on the strength of nine wins over the course of the season. It was a bittersweet weekend for Swearingin, who honored his father’s recent passing by changing his car number to 44 this weekend. Swearingin only had to start the two races to claim the Gold Cup crown. He purposely parked the car after one lap in the first race, but a punctured tire ended his second race after a single lap.
“We were fortunate during the season that we were able to put enough wins together to get to this point,” Swearingin said. “We’re still happy. We won the championship. We won a lot of little battles to get to the point to win the war.
“It’s been a hard week. My dad passed so I was racing for him today. I didn’t get to get him the (race win) that I wanted to give him but we gave him a championship. That’s what matters.”