The path toward the Platinum Cup championship became smoother for Daniel Morad after his victory in Round 10 of the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama on Sunday at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières.
Morad, from Toronto, earned his fourth victory of the season in the No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. He expanded his Platinum Cup championship lead to 13 points over Scott Hargrove, 175-162.
“I just want to keep my level of performance where it’s at,” Morad said. “I think if you look at last year, where we were in relation to this year, we’re fighting for pole positions, race victories, we’re leading practices. We’re just constantly getting better and better. I’m constantly improving.
“The team and myself are working together, and we’re constantly improving the car. I’m looking forward to our chances in the last race, although anything can happen, and we need Lady Luck on our side.”
Rounds 11 and 12, the final two rounds of the season, are scheduled for Sept. 2-4 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Single-Make Series.
Morad entered this race with a one-point lead over Hargrove, 155-154, after Hargrove won Round 9 on Saturday in the No. 28 OpenRoad Racing Porsche. But Hargrove was credited with eighth place today after damage to his car from a late collision and a post-race time penalty for incident responsibility.
2015 Platinum Cup champion Chris Green, from Montreal, finished second in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche in his fourth start of the season. Zach Robichon, from Ottawa, Ontario, placed third in the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche.
Etienne Borgeat, from Montreal, completed a solid event with his second fourth-place finish of the weekend in the No. 2 GT Racing Porsche. Tim Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, rounded out the top five in the No. 07 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche and completed a sweep of the Platinum Masters class for the weekend.
Shaun McKaigue, from Gilford, Ontario, zeroed in on his second Gold Cup championship by winning that class today in the No. 34 Fiorano Racing Porsche. He also won Round 9 Saturday.
Morad’s 13-point lead is the largest gap between him and Hargrove after an event weekend this season. They were separated by one (Morad 27-26), five (Hargrove 66-61), five (Hargrove 104-99) and three points (Morad 137-134) after the first four event weekends this year, respectively.
2015 Platinum Cup runner-up Morad started from the pole for the second consecutive race this weekend. Hargrove, from Tsawwassen, British Columbia, passed Morad for the lead with an aggressive move that included contact and drove on to win in Round 9 Saturday.
Morad made sure that didn’t happen today.
2015 Platinum Cup runner-up Morad pulled away at the start and built a gap of .978 of a second 12 minutes into the 45-minute race. Then the accordion effect started between the evenly matched, talented Canadian drivers.
Hargrove cut the lead to .594 of a second with 28 minutes left as he and Morad reached lapped traffic. But then Morad padded his advantage to 1.430 seconds with 15 minutes left, just a few minutes after light rain started to fall around the 10-turn, 1.5207-mile (2.433 km) temporary street circuit.
Then Morad and Hargrove reached lapped traffic again, which let Hargrove close the gap to .668 of a second with five minutes remaining. Then the decisive moment of the race – and possibly the season – just a few seconds later on the next lap.
Morad cleared the lapped No. 08 Wingho Racing Porsche of Gold Cup standout Martin Harvey before the tricky Turn 6. Hargrove tried to dive under Harvey to stay within reach of Morad, and his car made contact with the back of Harvey’s car, causing it to spin.
That incident allowed Morad to pull away during the closing laps, winning by 18.254 seconds over Green.
“The team gave me an amazing car, a perfect car,” Morad said. “Yesterday we missed it a little bit. We just kept calm and made a fine adjustment, dialed that thing to perfection. I couldn’t have done it without those guys. When the rain started falling, the car got even better. I opened up the gap.”
Meanwhile, Hargrove’s car continued to slow as water spewed from the hood on his windshield due to damage from the contact with Harvey. Hargrove stopped in Turn 10 just before taking the white flag for the last lap, as Green and Robichon took second and third place, respectively.
Hargrove restarted his car as Morad motored past to take the checkered flag, limping across the finish line in seventh place, one lap down. IMSA officials issued a time penalty to Hargrove for incident responsibility in the collision with Harvey, dropping him to eighth place in the provisional results.
Green was running alone for the second consecutive race before Robichon charged in the closing laps. Green managed to resist Robichon’s pursuit, finishing 1.726 seconds ahead at the finish.
Robichon made up plenty of ground after a spirited duel with Borgeat for fourth place in the first half of the race.
Sanderson’s summer win streak reached four consecutive races as he pulled off his second straight event sweep. He won Rounds 7 and 8 last month in Toronto.
2014 Gold Cup champion Sanderson dominated this round, starting from the pole finishing 26.527 seconds ahead of the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche driven by three-time reigning Platinum Masters champion Cirone.
“I always thought I was a Mosport (CTMP) kind of driver,” Sanderson said. “That was my favorite track. I guess maybe it’s this technical stuff, and I’m relating a more to the track, and I’m driving a little bit more technically than I do at Mosport. I think that’s maybe paying off.
“I was content to keep Orey (Fidani) and Marco behind me, and I banged out a few 1:05’s and a few 1:06 flats and hitting my marks, being consistent and not making any mistakes. I had a good race. It was fun.”
Sanderson’s title chances improved greatly with his second straight event sweep. He trails Cirone, 188-184, with two rounds remaining.
If Sanderson sweeps the final two rounds at CTMP and Cirone is second, they will finish tied in points. Sanderson would win the championship on a tie-breaker, as he would have six victories for the season compared to Cirone’s five.
Harvey, from Berthierville, Quebec, started from the class pole. McKaigue stayed close for the first two laps, as the two series veterans have been evenly matched all season.
But McKaigue found an opening about seven minutes into the race and drove past Harvey for the lead. He then stretched that lead to 5.805 seconds over the next eight minutes and never was challenged thereafter.
“We had a really good bout for a few laps,” McKaigue said. “I managed to get by him going into the bridge, which was dicey, but everybody kept it clean. So my hat’s off to him. Great job there.
“I then was able to drive away. I put some quick laps in, got a little gap and just tried to manage the traffic after that.”
McKaigue also earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions during the race.
Harvey continued after the late-race contact from Hargrove and drove to a second-place finish.
ROUND 10 POST-RACE QUOTES
DANIEL MORAD (No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports, winner): “Amazing rebound from yesterday. I think I was a little soft for the level of aggression that Scott (Hargrove) brought. Today I raised my level right to his and fought fire with fire. I guess that’s the only way you can play with these guys in the field. Great race between us. He kept me honest for a long time.” (What happened when you looked in your mirror and noticed Scott wasn’t there?): “To be honest, I saw it in my rear-view mirror all unfold. I knew it was tight between myself and Martin, and when Scott tried firing down the inside, it didn’t really surprise me because he’s really aggressive. I couldn’t be happier. The team gave me an amazing car, a perfect car. Yesterday we missed it a little bit. We just kept calm and made a fine adjustment, dialed that thing to perfection. I couldn’t have done it without those guys. When the rain started falling, the car got even better. I opened up the gap.” (Does your strategy change at the season finale due to a larger points lead?): “Not really. I just want to keep my level of performance where it’s at. I think if you look at last year, where we were in relation to this year, we’re fighting for pole positions, race victories, we’re leading practices. We’re just constantly getting better and better. I’m constantly improving. The team and myself are working together, and we’re constantly improving the car. I’m looking forward to our chances in the last race, although anything can happen, and we need Lady Luck on our side.”
CHRIS GREEN (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche, second): “I was all alone again. It was the Daniel and Scott Show up front, and I was just cruising along. I kind of got into a groove. The rain started coming down, and I took it easy. The team said to take it easy. Problem was, I got things cold. So then when I went to put my foot down and Zach (Robichon) was catching up on me, I started locking up the brakes. I really had to find the brake bias again. The tires weren’t finding the grip that they had at the beginning of the race. I made mistakes. But it wasn’t enough for him to get by me. Unfortunate day for Scott (Hargrove), but it helped us. The Pfaff Motorsports guys have been with me since Day 1; it’s been 4 ½ years since we’ve been doing this. It’s been such an incredible experience. The series has put on a great show. Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières, how much more can you ask for than an event like this? It really is fantastic. Glad to be home, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
ZACH ROBICHON (No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche, third): “This is a really fun track. It’s really fun to drive, but it’s really hard to pass. Due to the conditions this morning, the best passing spot was down the back straight, but you couldn’t brake on the inside because it was wet. So every second lap, I was putting myself there. ‘Is it dry enough yet? Is it dry enough yet?’ I knew I was quicker than him (Etienne Borgeat), and I knew I had the pace for Chris (Green) and maybe even the guys ahead. But you’ve got to get by. Eventually he made a little mistake going into Turn 7. I said, ‘If I get a good exit out of here, I’ve got to go.’ It’s my only shot. It was a tight pass. He held on to it hard – good for him. I’m glad I got by him. He (Green) did a fantastic job. He didn’t put a wheel wrong. I thought maybe he would make a mistake, but hat’s off to him. He drove a really smart race. I think if I had one more lap, I would have gotten past Chris. It’s so many ifs and buts. Overall, I’m very happy. The car was fantastic. This goes down to the work the crew did after qualifying. We struggled in qualifying, and they turned the car upside down for me because I said I don’t like it this way. They didn’t even question it, and they made the car fantastic. We had the pace today more than we’ve had all weekend.”
TIM SANDERSON (No. 07 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports, winner, Platinum Masters): “I always thought I was a Mosport kind of driver. That was my favorite track. I guess maybe it’s this technical stuff, and I’m relating a more to the track, and I’m driving a little bit more technically than I do at Mosport. I think that’s maybe paying off. We had a really good start today, which I was pleased with. Yesterday we kind of got a little caught up in it. Stayed with the leaders for a while, and they just kind of pulled away. I was content to keep Orey (Fidani) and Marco (Cirone) behind me, and I banged out a few 1:05’s and a few 1:06 flats and hitting my marks, being consistent and not making any mistakes. I had a good race. It was fun.” (Did your car change in the rain?): “No. Any sliding around that the car was doing was completely driver-induced.”
SHAUN McKAIGUE (No. 34 Fiorano Racing, winner, Gold Cup; Yokohama Hard Charger Award winner): “It was nice. I had to start behind the McDonald’s car. Not a great start but not a bad start. We just had to keep it together. We had a Platinum car behind us, so I let her go hoping to take advantage of that and was able to. We had a really good bout for a few laps. I managed to get by him (Martin Harvey) going into the bridge, which was dicey, but everybody kept it clean. So my hat’s off to him. Great job there. I then was able to drive away. I put some quick laps in, got a little gap and just tried to manage the traffic after that.” (Your reaction to the mid-race rain): “I just told myself, ‘Keep the pace up, keep the heat in the tires.’ I think if you would have slowed down, you would have lost the temps. My hat’s off to my sponsors, Aqua Pipe, Fer-Pal. The guys at Fiorano, IMSA, Porsche and Yokohama do such a good job. My hat’s off to everybody here this weekend.”
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