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Racing Passion Provides Powerful Sebring Spark for GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Platinum Cup Standout Cirone

Marco CironePassion flows through race drivers almost like a renewable energy source, always topping off moments before the elegant dance between brain, hands and feet begins behind the wheel of a race car.

But among this zealous group, it’s hard to find anyone more enamored with the enjoyable search for answers to the intricate challenges of motorsports than Marco Cirone.

The exuberant Cirone remains head over heels in love with driving a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car as he starts his seventh consecutive season racing in the iconic model.

“I love racing, and I absolutely love the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car,” Cirone said. “It’s such an incredible car to drive, especially racing in a professional environment like IMSA.

“I never get bored of it. It’s almost like an addiction. If I’m not racing, I get racing withdrawal symptoms. I always want to go back and get into the car. The passion never disappears. In fact, the more I race, the more I love it, if that makes any sense.”

Cirone, 49, from Toronto, has competed in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama since its inception in 2011. He has won three consecutive Platinum Masters championships since 2013 and will return to that series when its season starts in May.

But another chance to get behind the wheel at speed – pure passion, indeed – will bring Cirone and the Mark Motors Racing team to Sebring International Raceway on March 16-18 for Rounds 1 and 2 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.

Cirone has made the annual trip to race at Sebring for the last few years, but he treats the journey as far more than spring training for the Canadian season and a break from the chilly Ontario winter. He heads to Florida with podium finishes and winning on his mind.

It doesn’t hurt that the 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit at Sebring is one of Cirone’s favorite tracks. His silky driving style is well suited to the bumpy challenges of Sebring, especially when mated with a strong setup devised by the experienced Mark Motors team.

Cirone finished third overall in 2014 and fourth overall in 2015 in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama rounds at Sebring. He was the top Platinum Masters finisher in both of those rounds.

“I think it’s just a comfort level,” Cirone said. “For some reason, Sebring, I feel very comfortable there. I’m not intimidated by Turn 17 and Turn 1, which are two very, very difficult corners. My team always gives me a race car that can go around that racetrack in a comfortable way that I manage to do some very, very good lap times.”

But that comfort level was a long, long way away during the first day of the IMSA open test Feb. 23-24 at Sebring.

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series is switching to Yokohama tires this season, while the GT3 Cup USA series has used those tires since 2009. So the Mark Motors crew struggled to adapt to the new tires and a rear spring change.

“We were lost the first couple of sessions,” Cirone said. “We were running mid-pack, and we were concerned. We’re not used to running mid-pack. We always want to run toward the front.”

Mark Motors Racing Technical Engineer Georges Bourque and the rest of the crew made major changes to the setup of Cirone’s 911 GT3 Cup car overnight, altering wing angles, suspension and more.

The team thought it had a hot dry-weather setup for Cirone. Then the skies opened with sideways rain just 10 minutes before the final session of the test, ruining any chance for Cirone to try the setup.

So the Mark Motors crew put Yokohama rain tires on Cirone’s car and made other changes to their new dry setup to cater to the slick track surface. That baseline – and the adjustments for the rain — helped Cirone lead the final practice by 1.667 seconds over his nearest competitor.

“The positive thing about it is we made some quick changes for the rain and turned out to be the fastest car in the Wednesday practice,” Cirone said. “We were really happy, really excited.”

Cirone’s previous forays into the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama consisted of rounds at Sebring and on his home turf at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. But the switch to Yokohama tires this season in the Canadian series will make it easier for those competitors to also race regularly in the USA series. Cirone plans to drive in the full Canadian schedule and as many USA events as possible with Mark Motors Racing.

It’s the passion, after all.

“I just want to thank Mark Motors and everyone associated with them for giving me the chance to run again,” Cirone said. “They’re amazing people. I’m very, very lucky to be associated with them.

“Our goal is to go down there (Sebring) to practice, test, race and try to win it.”

Source. LST Marketing


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