Morad Holds Off Hargrove in Canadian Duel; Green Captures USA Victory at Watkins Glen

Daniel MoradCanadian drivers celebrated Canada Day by dominating the Platinum Cup podium positions in the combined Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama round July 1 at Watkins Glen International.

Daniel Morad, from Toronto, held off Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama rival Scott Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, to earn the overall victory in the second-ever combined race between the two International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Single-Make Series. The first joint event was June 10-12 at Montreal, where Hargrove swept both races.

Chris Green, from Montreal, finished third overall and was the top finisher in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. Zach Robichon, from Ottawa, finished fourth overall and was the third-place finisher in the Canadian series.

“What do we have, five Canadians in the top six?” Green said. “Happy Canada Day!”

Rookie Ricardo Perez, from Mexico City, broke the Canadian dominance by finishing fifth overall and second in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. But Canadian Jesse Lazare, from Montreal, finished sixth overall and third in the USA series.

There was limited green-flag racing in the 45-minute race – Round 5 for the Canadian series and Round 7 for the USA series – due to two separate multi-car accidents in the middle and rear of the 37-car field, which triggered a long caution period and a red flag period, respectively.

Kurt Fazekas, from Indianapolis, was admitted in stable condition to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania. He is awake and alert and being held for further observation. Further updates will be provided by his team, Kelly-Moss Road and Race.

All other drivers involved in the incidents were evaluated at the track medical center and released.

Round 6 for the Canadian series and Round 8 for the USA series, a 45-minute race, will start at 9:10 a.m. (ET) Saturday.

Platinum Cup (GT3CAN)

Morad led from pole and never trailed in his No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche. It was his first victory since capturing Round 1 on May 21 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Hargrove appeared to have passed Morad for the lead in his No. 28 OpenRoad Racing Porsche, but that move occurred just as a caution flag flew. Official scoring reverted to the last completed lap, which Morad led.

The final restart occurred with five minutes to go, and Morad held off Hargrove to win by .533 of a second. The first lap on the final restart was harrowing for Morad due to being the first driver to cross areas of the 11-turn, 3.4-mile circuit covered with material to absorb fluids dropped by cars involved in the incident that triggered the red flag.

“It was nerve-wracking in a way, almost like driving in the rain,” Morad said. “Tricky conditions. But I’m so happy with the car the Alegra Motorsports guys gave me. Race weekend after race weekend, delivering me beautiful race cars and giving me the chance to win every time I’m out here.”

Morad and Hargrove have occupied the top two spots on the Canadian podium in three of five rounds this season, with margins of victory of .308 of a second (Round 1, Morad win), .557 of a second (Round 3, Hargrove win) and .533 of a second (Round 5, Morad win).

“I tried to get around him (Morad) on the final restart with three laps to go,” Hargrove said. “We were pushing hard and had a couple of good runs. At one point, I got my tires dirty and fell back a little bit. At that point, there was only one lap to go. I closed up a lot on the final lap, thought about giving it a run. But I wasn’t quite close enough.”

Robichon lost third overall to Green after the restart but wisely managed the gap to earn his fourth podium finish in five starts during his rookie season in the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche.

“On the last lap, Scott and I were able to catch up to Daniel and Chris,” Robichon said. “So we know that on a longer run, we’ll have a good car. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Marco Cirone, from Toronto, finished fourth in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche and was the top Platinum Masters finisher. Etienne Borgeat, from Montreal, rounded out the top five in the No. 2 GT Racing Porsche.

Orey Fidani, from Woodbridge, Ontario, earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for the Canadian series driver who gained the most spots from his starting position in the race.

Platinum Cup (GT3USA)

Green also led from pole to earn his first career victory in the USA series after winning nine races and the 2015 Platinum Cup championship as an Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Platinum Cup competitor from 2013-15.

On the final restart, Green passed Robichon for third overall and had eyes on Morad and Hargrove. But he ran out of time to challenge.

“The Castrol Pfaff Motorsports car was outstanding,” Green said. “We had a good car to run toward the front. We started making up positions as we could, but there just wasn’t enough time out there. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Perez earned a career-best finish of second in the No. 02 JDX Racing Porsche and his fourth podium finish of the season.

“We had a good start, good restarts,” Perez said. “The car was incredible for tomorrow.”

Lazare finished third in the No. 21 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche but took the Platinum Cup championship lead. Previous leader Lucas Catania, from Cazenovia, New York, was eliminated in an incident on the first lap in the No. 26 NGT Motorsport Porsche.

“We tried to set up for the long run, but we didn’t have even a short run,” Lazare said. “Unfortunately, at the start, I had a little bit of contact with Green and lost my splitter. That really took the balance away from the car. Kind of fortunate it was a short race. I’m happy to take the points and keep moving forward.”

Andrew Longe, from Naples, Florida, finished fourth in the No. 47 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Mike Hedlund, from Redwood City, California, rounded out the top five in the No. 77 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche.

Platinum Masters (GT3CAN)

Cirone won from the pole for his fourth Platinum Masters victory in five starts this season.

“It’s hard to keep the rhythm and focus when stuff like that happens,” Cirone said of the incidents. “When you cool the tires down, the grip levels completely disappear, so you’ve got to change your driving style.

“I made a few mistakes, and I blew past the Bus Stop, lost a few positions. But overall the car is in one piece, and we’ll come back tomorrow and hopefully have a better result.”

Carlos de Quesada, from Tampa, Florida, finished second in the No. 50 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche.

Tim Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, rounded out the podium positions in the No. 07 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche.

Platinum Masters (GT3USA)

Jeff Mosing, from Austin, Texas, earned his fourth victory in the last five rounds in the No. 01 TOPP Racing Porsche.

“We were trying some different things in setups and seemed to have a better car for the race,” Mosing said. “So hat’s off to (team owner) Todd (Oppermann) and them. They keep working hard until I have no excuses to go slow.

“I was really fortunate to miss all the incidents that were happening out there. Most of them were happening behind me. I was able to pick up a few positions due to other people’s turmoil. I guess everybody was waiting on the grid to go, getting antsy. I hope we can have a cleaner race tomorrow.”

Pole sitter Fred Poordad, from San Antonio, finished second in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche.

David Baker, from Colleyville, Texas, placed third in the No. 56 TOPP Racing Porsche. He also earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for the USA series driver who gained the most spots from his starting position in the race.

Gold Cup (GT3CAN)

Martin Harvey, from Berthierville, Quebec, earned his first victory of the season in the No. 08 Wingho Racing Porsche. It was his first win since June 2015 at Toronto.

“Just two words: Crazy race,” Harvey said. “But we finished first. I’m very, very happy.”

Pole sitter Shaun McKaigue, from Gilford, Ontario, finished second in the No. 34 Fiorano Racing Porsche.

Gold Cup (GT3USA)

Michael Levitas, from Baltimore, extended his winning streak at Watkins Glen to five consecutive races with his victory in the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche. Levitas swept both rounds at The Glen in 2014 and 2015.

“Five, that’s great,” Levitas said. “We struggled really hard in qualifying. We missed it coming out of the practice. We made a change, and it was definitely for the worse. But the crew worked really hard, and we came back in the race. As the gas was going down, the car kept getting faster and faster.”

Philip Bloom, from New York, placed second in the No. 11 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Neal Walker, from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, rounded out the podium finishers in the No. 79 Tullman Walker Racing Porsche.

ROUND 5 POST-RACE QUOTES (GT3CAN):

DANIEL MORAD (No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports, winner): “It was a tough race. There was a lot of down time, which makes it extremely difficult because as a race car driver, you’re super focused and pumped before the race, and you expect the race to be run 45 minutes. But then when there are so many interruptions like that, keeping focus and trying to do the best job you can in the shortest amount of time you have. It puts the leader on the back foot. With coolant all over the track and going into unknown territory, I’m the first one to try it out and everyone behind me has the chance to see, ‘Well, that worked or that didn’t work.’ It was nerve-wracking in a way, almost like driving in the rain. Tricky conditions. But I’m so happy with the car the Alegra Motorsports guys gave me. Race weekend after race weekend, delivering me beautiful race cars and giving me the chance to win every time I’m out here. Fortunately, I didn’t get hit this time. This is the first time I don’t think I’ve been hit in the rear bumper. Awesome, awesome job to everyone I’m racing against, as well.”

SCOTT HARGROVE (No. 28 OpenRoad Racing, second): “It was crazy. I think I had the lead and then the yellow came out, and then they reset the order to the lap before. That was a little disappointing. But after that, I tried to get around him on the final restart with three laps to go. We were pushing hard and had a couple of good runs. At one point, I got my tires dirty and fell back a little bit. At that point, there was only one lap to go. I closed up a lot on the final lap, thought about giving it a run. But I wasn’t quite close enough. But the OpenRoad car, I think everyone is struggling with the track conditions, but we were still very quick. It wasn’t very easy to drive. But tomorrow I think we will be able to adjust and hopefully go for the win.”

ZACH ROBICHON (No. 78 Mark Motors Racing, third): “The biggest issue we had is we had a really good setup for 45 minutes. We knew we were going to struggle the first 20 minutes, but we never ran more than five. So at the restart, Scott (Hargrove) had the same problem because of the way we had the car set up. We weren’t able to get by the guys, and Scott made a little mistake and I had to check up. That’s where Chris (Green) was able to get by me. I didn’t fight him too hard because I knew it’s not a points position. It is what it is. On the last lap, Scott and I were able to catch up to Daniel (Morad) and Chris. So we know that on a longer run, we’ll have a good car. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully we get more than three green-flag laps.”

MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, winner, Platinum Masters): “It’s hard to keep the rhythm and focus when stuff like that happens. When you cool the tires down, the grip levels completely disappear, so you’ve got to change your driving style. I made a few mistakes, and I blew past the Bus Stop, lost a few positions. But overall the car is in one piece, and we’ll come back tomorrow and hopefully have a better result.”

MARTIN HARVEY (No. 08 Wingho Racing, winner, Gold Cup): “Just two words: Crazy race. But we finished first. I’m very, very happy. But it’s not very easy because after a couple of laps behind the pace car, everybody has to slow down and stop in the pits. We restarted and just had two or three laps. I’m very happy to have passed a couple of guys, and we finished first. Perfect. We saved the car.”

ROUND 7 POST-RACE QUOTES (GT3USA):

CHRIS GREEN (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports, winner): “My thoughts are with the guys that took the impact going through the Esses and Turn 1. My guys gave me a great car today. The Castrol Pfaff Motorsports car was outstanding. We had a good car to run toward the front. We started making up positions as we could, but there just wasn’t enough time out there. I can’t wait for tomorrow. What do we have, five Canadians in the top six? Happy Canada Day. Hat’s off to the team. I still think we’re about a session behind our competition right now. Another rough, rough, rough Friday. We have to regroup, focus and figure out what we need with this old beauty (car). She’s seen a lot of races in her life. We’re getting the best out of her. I think tomorrow is going to be an even better day.”

RICARDO PEREZ (No. 02 JDX Racing, second): “It’s good for us because we took second place. We had a good start, good restarts. The car was incredible for tomorrow. It’s not a very good race for anybody. We are here, we have some points, and we’re happy.”

JESSE LAZARE (No. 21 Kelly-Moss Road and Race, third): “We tried to set up for the long run, but we didn’t have even a short run. Unfortunately, at the start, I had a little bit of contact with (Chris) Green and lost my splitter. That really took the balance away from the car. Kind of fortunate it was a short race. I’m happy to take the points and keep moving forward.

JEFF MOSING (No. 01 TOPP Racing, winner, Platinum Masters): “We were trying some different things in setups and seemed to have a better car for the race. So hat’s off to Todd (Oppermann) and them. They keep working hard until I have no excuses to go slow. I was really fortunate to miss all the incidents that were happening out there. Most of them were happening behind me. I was able to pick up a few positions due to other people’s turmoil. I guess everybody was waiting on the grid to go, getting antsy. I hope we can have a cleaner race tomorrow. I’m hoping everybody’s OK. Thanks again to Yokohama and Porsche Motorsport North America for giving us a great opportunity to race here at Watkins Glen.”

MICHAEL LEVITAS (No. 36 TPC Racing, winner, Gold Cup): “Five (in a row at Watkins Glen), that’s great. We struggled really hard in qualifying. We missed it coming out of the practice. We made a change, and it was definitely for the worse. But the crew worked really hard, and we came back in the race. As the gas was going down, the car kept getting faster and faster. It was a darn shame, my teammate, Sebastian (Landy), he worked so hard. He worked his heart out. To see that (accident) happen in the opening lap, I felt really bad for him. It’s great to have the win. I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll take it. It’s a win.”

Source. LST Marketing

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