2014 Platinum Cup champion Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, won Round 4 Sunday in mixed conditions at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He drove the No. 28 OpenRoad Racing Porsche to a 9.062-second victory in a race that started behind the Safety Car in light rain.
This event, supporting the Canadian Grand Prix Formula One race, is the first-ever combined race between the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
The margin of victory over runner-up Jesse Lazare of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series was a waltz for Hargrove compared to his win by just .557 of a second over fellow Canadian series competitor Daniel Morad on Saturday in Round 3.
“I was really looking forward to driving in changing conditions today,” Hargrove said. “We had a really, really good car in the dry or when it started to sprinkle. I was a little worried that the changes we made on the car overnight were going to hurt us, but I think it ended up helping us. And that was key to be able to push that hard right from the start and get a gap and maintain it for the rest of the race.
“So, in my mind, that was a textbook race on my behalf. I can’t believe how good the OpenRoad Porsche was today. Hat’s off to those guys, and I can’t wait to come back and do more racing.”
Three-time reigning Platinum Masters champion Marco Cirone, from Toronto, rebounded from an accident that eliminated him in Round 3 Saturday to finish second in the Platinum Cup and end as the top Platinum Masters finisher in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche.
Morad, from Toronto, rallied from deep in the field after a spin due to contact to finish third in the Platinum Cup class in the No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Etienne Borgeat, from Montreal, finished fourth at his home circuit in the No. 2 GT Racing Porsche. Zach Robichon, from Ottawa, rounded out the top five in the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche after serving a drive-through penalty for contact with Morad.
Shaun McKaigue, from Gilford, Ontario, also completed a weekend sweep in the Gold Cup class with a victory in the No. 34 Fiorano Racing Porsche.
The 25-minute race started with three laps behind the Safety Car due to light rain that started after the cars had assembled on the grid with slick tires. That decision by IMSA officials, unanimously hailed by the drivers in the 36-car field, paid off when the rain stopped and a dry line formed.
“I was rubbing my hands together, saying, ‘Thank you,'” Hargrove said of his thoughts on the grid when rain intensified.
Green-flag racing began with 17 minutes remaining on the 13-turn, 2.71-mile (4.361 km) circuit. Pole sitter Hargrove wasted no time running away, building a 5.806-second lead after two laps while fierce racing throughout the field unfolded behind him.
Morad started third overall but passed Lazare with a courageous move in Turn 5 on the first lap. Morad set his sights on Hargrove while also keep a wary eye on the aggressive duel between Lazare and Robichon behind him.
A flashpoint in the race took place on the second green-flag lap when Robichon dove his No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche under Morad in the hairpin and hit Morad’s door, forcing Morad into a spin while Robichon took second place overall and in the series running order. IMSA officials assessed Robichon with a drive-through penalty for the contact.
“At one point, it was four times I had to take avoiding action,” Morad said. “Otherwise, I would have been taken out. Finally, the last one was just a step too far from Robichon. He just misjudged it and crashed right into my door in the middle of the hairpin.
“There was nothing I could do. I didn’t see it coming. Not a smart move. Hopefully he learns from that, and we can go forward and keep it clean for the rest of the year because points make prizes.”
Cirone benefitted from Morad’s misfortune and Robichon’s penalty, climbing into second. He atoned for a collision with Ricardo Perez in Round 3 on Saturday, an incident for which Cirone took complete responsibility.
“Today I had a different mindset,” Cirone said. “I wanted to be clean, and I wanted to run a safe and clean race and try to get back into the points.
“It just goes to show you when you’re clean and safe, good things will happen. I’m so happy I was able to redeem myself, especially for the team that did so much work.”
Cirone’s recovery from his incident Saturday also helped him earn his third Platinum Masters victory in four starts this season. But the biggest satisfaction came when he stood on the Formula One podium after the race before family, friends and his Mark Motors Racing team.
“To be on the podium at F1 was something I never imagined,” Cirone said. “It was just the most incredible feeling in the world. I’m so happy right now I want to race again tomorrow. But I can’t because I’ve got to go to work!”
Carlos de Quesada, from Tampa, Florida, added a second-place Platinum Masters finish to his victory Saturday in his first race weekend of the 2016 season in the No. 50 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Tim Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, finished third in the No. 07 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche. He crossed the line just .08 of a second behind teammate de Quesada as the two teammates competed hard and clean for the entire race.
“We ran the whole race right there; he was tapping on my heel,” de Quesada said of Sanderson.
McKaigue drove to his third victory in four starts this season in nearly opposite circumstances from Round 3 on Saturday.
2011 Gold Cup champion McKaigue started from the pole today after starting third Saturday. He produced a strong start after the three pace laps to create a gap to fellow Gold Cup competitors Martin Harvey and Bruno Chapinotti and stayed out front to win by 5.787 seconds. On Saturday, McKaigue spun after contact and had to drive his way through the field to reach the top step of the podium, holding off Chapinotti by .154 of a second.
“I had a great start, put in some great laps, got a little bit of a gap,” McKaigue said. “Fiorano Racing gave me an awesome car. My car today was great. It was perfect. It was balanced.”
Harvey, from Berthierville, Quebec, rebounded from a tough third-place finish Saturday to place second in the No. 08 Wingho Racing Porsche. He also earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions from his starting spot.
“The race was very short today, but it was a very clean race,” Harvey said. “Perfect, perfect. To finish the weekend this way was perfect.”
Chapinotti, from Bowmanville, Ontario, finished third in the No. 03 DFC Motorsport Porsche.
Rounds 5 and 6 for the series will take place June 30-July 2 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. It’s the last of two combined races for the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series this season.
For more information about Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, visit http://www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #GT3CAN @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
ROUND 4 POST-RACE QUOTES:
SCOTT HARGROVE (No. 28 OpenRoad Racing, winner): (About his thoughts when sitting on grid with intensifying rain): “I was rubbing my hands together, saying, ‘Thank you.’ I was really looking forward to driving in changing conditions today. We had a really, really good car in the dry or when it started to sprinkle. I was a little worried that the changes we made on the car overnight were going to hurt us, but I think it ended up helping us. And that was key to be able to push that hard right from the start and get a gap and maintain it for the rest of the race. So, in my mind, that was a textbook race on my behalf. I hit a curb a little hard on one lap. It was pretty interesting in the car. Other than that, it was smooth sailing for the whole race. I can’t believe how good the OpenRoad Porsche was today. Hat’s off to those guys, and I can’t wait to come back and do more racing.” (About the feeling of being on the F1 podium twice in one weekend): “The song that they play is what sticks in my head the most. That’s the most fun part. Getting to spray the champagne and see everybody down looking up at you when you’re up there is an amazing feeling.” (Are you back on track after going winless in the opening event of the season?): “Mosport was an interesting event. I think I came off a lot of adversity from my Indy Lights season, and I had a lot on my mind and maybe wasn’t driving as well as I had in the past in the Porsche. This weekend I came here focused, and hopefully I’ll repeat a championship.”
MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, second; winner, Platinum Masters): “Today was much, much better. Today I had a different mindset. I wanted to be clean, and I wanted to run a safe and clean race and try to get back into the points. I knew there were going to be some battles up front. I was battling behind Andrew Longe and (Lucas) Catania for a while there. I wanted to be very, very careful that we accumulated points, and I didn’t want anything to happen considering what happened last time. It just goes to show you when you’re clean and safe, good things will happen. To be on the podium at F1 was something I never imagined. It was just the most incredible feeling in the world. I’m so happy right now I want to race again tomorrow. But I can’t because I’ve got to go to work! It was an amazing weekend. I’m so happy I was able to redeem myself, especially for the team that did so much work. Mark Motors was here and watching. We’ll see what happens at Watkins Glen. We’re really looking forward to it.”
DANIEL MORAD (No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports, third): “It was a chaotic start. Being in Montreal, there are so many different radio frequencies. I kind of lost transmission with my team when it started raining. It was a bit nerve-racking because I didn’t know what the call was going to be, whether I needed to come into the pits or whether I needed to stay out. In the end, the IMSA officials made the right call. It was the perfect call. We did enough laps behind the Safety Car. We dried the track. We did a single-file start, which kept the carnage down. It was a good start. I knew I had to be aggressively patient. I needed to dispose of Jesse (Lazare) quickly, and that’s what I did, right away, first lap, into Turn 5, that right-hand sweeper. I managed to pass him on the outside, which was a pretty knife-edge move. It needed to be done, just to stay with Scott (Hargrove). After that, I saw there was a huge battle behind me between (Zach) Robichon and Lazare. They had their own race. They were fighting hard. But at times they were forgetting that I was also there in front. So they were locking up and missing their brake zones and cutting the corner, and it forced me to a little bit wide of the apex just to survive. At that point, I knew it was race over. I couldn’t catch Scott anymore. I was trying to maintain second and just survive. I didn’t want any damage on the car. I didn’t want another repeat of the DNF in Round 2 at Mosport. At one point, it was four times I had to take avoiding action. Otherwise, I would have been taken out. Finally, the last one was just a step too far from Robichon. He just misjudged it and crashed right into my door in the middle of the hairpin. There was nothing I could do. I didn’t see it coming. Not a smart move. It’s a rookie mistake. Hopefully he learns from that, and we can go forward and keep it clean for the rest of the year because points make prizes. It was a great recovery. The team was awesome, reporting damage to me, if anything was rubbing. I managed to keep the car on the road, keep it clean to the end and get that third place. It was damage limitation. I needed the maximum points I could get from this weekend, and I think that’s what we did. If I had crashed again and we had a DNF, the championship would essentially be over. You really need to maximize every weekend and get the most points you can. I’m looking forward to the next one at The Glen. It’s going to be an awesome race. With the new surface down there, everyone has told me it’s amazing. I’m extremely looking forward to that.”
CARLOS DE QUESADA (No. 50 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports, second, Platinum Masters): “Because we had a single-file start, I think that made the start of the race very clean. Also because of the wet conditions, people weren’t trying to go above their ability. My race was very clean. I had Tim Sanderson right behind me. We ran the whole race right there; he was tapping on my heel. But I was able to stay ahead.”
TIM SANDERSON (No. 07 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports, third, Platinum Masters): “Today was a good race. We had a great car. I was adjusting my driving style a little bit from yesterday. It was good to see everybody keep their heads a little bit more. I was worried about that when I started to see the track being wet before the start, but by the time we finished those three pace laps, things had dried out sufficiently. I think we did faster times than we did yesterday and in qualifying, so that was good. It was good, clean racing, so I’m very happy with the results today.”
SHAUN McKAIGUE (No. 34 Fiorano Racing, winner, Gold Cup): “It was great. I managed to put in a quick lap in yesterday’s race, which put us in a much better starting position. The weather was a little dicey. My hat’s off to IMSA to make a great call on three pace laps. By then, the track was in proper condition. I think it was a really wise move that saved a lot of carnage, I’m sure. I had a great start, put in some great laps, got a little bit of a gap, managed to get by a Platinum Car and was trying to catch Mike Levitas. But I didn’t have anything for Mike. Fiorano Racing gave me an awesome car. My car today was great. It was perfect. It was balanced. Thanks to all of my sponsors – Aqua Pipe, Fer-Pal, Yokohama tires, Pfaff. It was great.”
MARTIN HARVEY (No. 08 Wingho Racing, second, Gold Cup; Yokohama Hard Charger Award winner): “It was good to start the race behind the pace car. It wasn’t very slippery, but imagine if we started the race normally. Oh, my God. Probably we saved a couple of cars today. A very good idea. We started single file. That was a very good idea, too. The track was very dry; it was perfect. Today my car was perfect, I was perfect, and I raced very, very well. I finished on the podium, two seconds back to Shaun (McKaigue). The race was very short today, but it was a very clean race. Perfect, perfect. To finish the weekend this way was perfect.”
BRUNO CHAPINOTTI (No. 03 DFC Motorsport, third, Gold Cup): (About mixed conditions at start): “A lot of things go through your head. Rain? Is it going to rain? You’ve got to prepare for anything that comes. We always prepare for the rain. It was fun. It was very smart from Porsche Motorsport and IMSA to give us two laps so we had a great feel. That was very, very good. Very professional. IMSA is doing a great job. I’m very happy to be here. I have to thank all of my sponsors, Downtown Porsche. Great support. There are no words to explain how good I feel to be here. It’s amazing.”
Rounds 5-6: June 30-July 2, Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York (combined event with Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama)
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