The win came in relatively easy fashion in a unique situation. Lazare picked up the 4.832-second win in the No. 21 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche over Lucas Catania in what was the first-ever combined Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama event. 2014 Canadian Platinum Cup champion Scott Hargrove came away with the overall win in the No. 28 OpenRoad Racing Porsche.
“I definitely had a big lead through the first lap because of the gap traffic from the Canadian series,” Lazare said. “I knew if I wanted to win it overall I was going to wait it out and wait for the mistake from the front-runners. (Daniel) Morad and Scott were battling it out, and honestly it was great to watch. I was hoping for that mistake, but they both drove solid races and did a great job.”
Lucas Catania, from Cazenovia, New York, earned his fifth straight podium finish in the U.S. series in the No. 26 NGT Motorsport Porsche. Montreal native Chris Green finished third in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsport Porsche.
Andrew Longe, from Naples, Florida, tied his season-best finish of fourth in the No. 47 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Longe’s teammate Fred Poordad rounded out the top five in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche and also was the top Platinum Masters finisher.
Lazare started from pole for the fifth straight time this season, sandwiched between Daniel Morad and Zach Robichon, both Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama competitors.
He had a clean start and started to pull away, while the action continued behind him.
Catania, starting in second, dropped back through Turn 1 after light contact. He continued in third position while Ricardo Perez, Green and Mike Hedlund also moved into podium contention.
The race soured for Perez after lap six when he and Marco Cirone made contact in Turn 3, battling for fifth place overall. The contact brought out a full course yellow with 12 minutes left. Both drivers were eliminated.
The field held its positions on the restart. Lazare extended his lead to 2.5 seconds, while Green set his sights on Catania, who had fought his way back to second place. Green followed Catania’s every move and pulled side-by-side through the hairpin on the last lap. But Catania, much like Round 2 at Sebring International Raceway in March, held off Green to take second with Green finishing third.
“It’s not where I want to be, it’s not where I’m happy being, but it’s a first step forward,” Green said. “I think tomorrow is going to be a better day, and I’m really excited. The guys did such a great job, working extremely hard last night on my car. To do it in front of my hometown, family and friends is really special. Having five Canadians in the top six is pretty special to see. I’m used to running against these guys, so I’m hoping tomorrow I will be up front battling them again.”
Poordad returned to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series this season after a year away. Today’s class win was his first Masters win of the season and third podium finish of the season.
“It was a crazy race with a lot of action,” Poordad said. “Between the grass, dirt anddebris flying around, it was rather exciting. I ended up with a great finish. Wright Motorsports put an awesome car underneath me, and all I had to do was drive it and stay out of trouble. I was fortunate enough to do that.”
Poordad earned his first pole position earlier in the weekend as the top Masters qualifier.
Fred Kaimer, from Austin, Texas, finished second in class in the No. 23 NGT Motorsport Porsche. Oscar Arroyo, from Mexico City, rounded out the podium finishing third in the No. 89 JDX Racing Porsche. He also earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award, given to the driver who advances the most positions through the field.
Michael de Quesada, from Tampa, Florida, earned his fourth win of the season in the Gold Cup class in the No. 31 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
De Quesada started second in class with a two-car gap to pole sitter Sebastian Landy. He used quick driving and stayed clean to take the win over Landy.
“After the second lap, I said to myself, ‘I don’t know if I can win this race,’ just because so much was happening around me. But I knew I was quick enough, and it became a matter of staying clean and just finishing the race. Racing with that mindset with this many cars on the track helped me win today.”
The second-place finish was Landy’s fourth podium result of the season in the No. 49 TPC Racing Porsche. He was followed by teammate Michael Levitas, who finished third, rounding out the Gold Cup podium in the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche.
Round 6 will start at 10 a.m. (ET) Sunday.
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ROUND 5 POST-RACE QUOTES:
JESSE LAZARE (No. 21 Kelly-Moss Road and Race, winner): “The start was a very clean start for all of us. I definitely had a big lead through the first lap because of the gap traffic from the Canadian series. I knew if I wanted to win it overall I was going to wait it out and wait for the mistake from the front-runners. (Daniel) Morad and Scott (Hargrove) were battling it out, and honestly it was great to watch. I was hoping for that mistake, but they both drove solid races and did a great job. At one point I had the fastest lap, which would have put me on pole for tomorrow. But two laps to go, Hargrove got me, so that was a disappointment. Definitely tomorrow I’m going to try and repeat what I did today for the U.S. and put myself in a position to be in the battle up front for the overall. Kelly-Moss gave me a great car from the beginning, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow, especially with all of my sponsors here supporting me.”
LUCAS CATANIA (No. 26 NGT Motorsport, second): “The start was kind of hectic. I don’t know really know what happened. I thought I had given them enough room, but with the cold pressures, things weren’t what I thought. I had contact in the beginning through Turn 2 and it messed my alignment up, so my wheel was off and I was struggling with that. Once I got hit, guys were able to get a run on me in the inside, so I definitely got set back in the beginning. I just kept my head down, was able to fend off some guys behind me and kept going forward. I saw the two guys in front of me battling, so I figured it would just be a matter of time. They ended up taking each other out, which was unfortunate but the yellow definitely helped bunch everyone up. Toward the end, I was battling Chris Green again, just like Sebring, which brought back some good memories. I really love racing with him; he’s a great competitor. I’m happy to have been able to battle back, and all in all, it was a good race. NGT Motorsport and New York Spine & Wellness and Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists were great.”
CHRIS GREEN (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports, third): “It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, and I just considered today my first practice session. Everything that could have gone wrong yesterday, if you can think of it, it happened. I’m just happy to bring the car home with a sixth-place finish and third in class. There was a little bit of carnage in front of us, and I was able to steer clear of that. It’s not where I want to be, it’s not where I’m happy being, but it’s a first step forward. I think tomorrow is going to be a better day, and I’m really excited. The guys did such a great job, working extremely hard last night on my car. To do it in front of my hometown, family and friends is really special. Having five Canadians in the top six is pretty special to see. I’m used to running against these guys, so I’m hoping tomorrow I will be up front battling them again.”
FRED POORDAD (No. 20 Wright Motorsports, first Platinum Masters): “It was a crazy race with a lot of action. Between the grass, dirt and debris flying around, it was rather exciting. I ended up with a great finish. Wright Motorsports put an awesome car underneath me, and all I had to do was drive it and stay out of trouble. I was fortunate enough to do that. We’re hoping the whole crew puts together a good show tomorrow and can bring home some podium finishes.”
FRED KAIMER (No. 23 NGT Motorsport, second Platinum Masters): “It was a lot of fun. It was a good race, and it’s good to get together with the Canadian folks and mix the series up. It’s a nice change from the norm. The track is challenging, and we haven’t had a ton of track time this weekend, so it’s been a steep learning curve for me. But the race was fun, and our whole team stayed out of trouble so we can do it all again tomorrow morning.”
OSCAR ARROYO (No. 89 JDX Racing, third Platinum Masters, Yokohama Hard Charger): “I’m very happy and had a lot of fun. The track is very interesting, and I was very close to many accidents. In the end, I am very happy with the results. Yesterday I had a crash in qualifying, which eliminated my time, and I had to start from the back. But my move from the end to where I finished is very good, and I’m just pleased to have finished the race.”
MICHAEL DE QUESADA (No. 31 Alegra Motorsports, first Gold Cup): “I couldn’t even tell you what happened today. One second I was in last, the next I was in second, last again and then in first, and then I’m just trying to avoid a crash. I honestly just raced hard and made my way to the front. I was able to pass Sebastian (Landy), and I was right on Philip Bloom before he crashed. After the second lap, I said to myself, ‘I don’t know if I can win this race,’ because everything was happening. But I knew I was quick enough, and it became a matter of staying clean and just finishing the race. Racing with that mindset with this many cars on the track helped me win today.”
SEBASTIAN LANDY (No. 49 TPC Racing, second Gold Cup): “It’s a bittersweet ending to the day. It was a crazy race from the beginning, which is to be expected with this many cars on the track. But I was just trying to keep it clean as much as I could. I ended up settled behind Michael (de Quesada) and made a mistake on the brakes and had to go off to avoid him. I had to wait until everyone else went by to fire it up and start chasing him down. It’s a good result to come back from that, salvage some points and finish second, but it’s a shame we couldn’t fight for the win at the end. TPC Racing has done a great job this weekend, and the car was great today and I’m happy to put Forto Strong Coffee on the podium.”
MICHAEL LEVITAS (No. 36 TPC Racing, third Gold Cup): “It was an exciting race. It was an ugly start with a lot of drama and mayhem, but it was really what it was expected to be. The smart thing was to keep a level head and keep my position. Position was key and then really put your head down and get focused. The whole team at TPC Racing did a fantastic job and set up a great car for me. Every time I’ve been in the car, it picks up more lap time. I couldn’t be happier. My competitors did an excellent job, especially my teammate Sebastian (Landy). The kid was on fire. He fell back to third and then, boom, he’s just going on by. He earned it, and everyone did a great job.”
About Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama enters its 12th season in 2016 as one of Porsche’s 20 single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. The series produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in the world’s most produced and iconic race car, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Racing is divided into two classes – Platinum Cup, featuring the 2014-2016 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based on the current seventh, and current, generation of the street car, and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous iteration (model years 2010-2013) of the race car. A Masters Championship also is conducted in the Platinum class. Each class is awarded with its own podium at the end of every race and individual champion at the end of every season. Points are awarded by finish in class.
For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visit http://www.gt3cupchallengeusa.com, follow hashtag #GT3USA @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
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