Morad Closes in on North American Cup with Round 15 Win at Road Atlanta

daniel-moradDaniel Morad edged closer to the inaugural North American Cup with a win Thursday in Round 15 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama at Road Atlanta.

Morad, the 2016 Ultra 94 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Platinum Cup Champion, won under yellow over Will Hardeman.

“This is my first time at Road Atlanta, and I was playing catch-up the entire time through practice, and we were just trying to figure out the car for race pace,” Morad said. “It was a great day, and Porsche Centre Oakville and Alegra Motorsports gave me a perfect car, and I just had to cruise it home.”

Morad, from Toronto, joined the final two USA events in the hopes of earning the IMSA North American Cup, awarded to the driver who scores the most points and competes in both series. The win today inches Morad closer to that goal.

The season-ending Round 16 starts at 9:10 a.m. (ET) Friday, a 45-minute race.

Hardeman, from Austin, Texas, scored his third straight podium, finishing second today in the No. 19 Moorespeed Porsche.

Lucas Catania, from Cazenovia, New York, was third in the No. 26 NGT Motorsport Porsche. The third-place finish extended his lead to five points in the chase for second place in the Platinum Cup Championship over Andrew Longe, from Naples, Florida, in the No. 47 Wright Motorsports Porsche.

McKay Snow, from Lehi, Utah, finished fourth overall in the No. 63 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Longe rounded out the top five.

Marco Cirone, from Toronto, earned the Platinum Masters win in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. Sebastian Landy, from Great Falls, Virginia, earned his third straight Gold Cup class win in the No. 49 TPC Racing Porsche.

Morad started from pole for the third straight race in front of Jesse Lazare. Morad got a good jump and didn’t give Lazare a chance to make an early move.

“We’ve gotten seven pole positions in a row between Canada and the U.S. now,” Morad said. “In terms of qualifying, no problem at all. But we were just working on our long-run pace, and in the race today, we were spot on.”

But progress was halted early when Jeff Mosing, the Platinum Masters championship leader, made contact with Cirone. Mosing spun off track in the No. 01 TOPP Racing Porsche and collected Masters Championship second-place driver Fred Poordad on his way.

Poordad, from San Antonio, was unable to continue in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche, bringing out the first of three full-course cautions.

The field restarted with 36 minutes to go in the 45-minute race. Morad pulled a quick gap but third-place Zach Robichon, from Ottawa, Ontario, zeroed in on Lazare in second.

Robichon pulled up next to Lazare on the first lap after the restart and went side-by-side through Turn 9. He made his move in the No. 78 Mark Motors Porsche to overtake Lazare’s No. 21 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche entering Turn 10.

The second full-course caution came out just three minutes later when series rookie Jonathon Ziegleman made contact with the tire barrier in Turn 7 in his No. 29 NGT Motorsport Porsche That caution put Robichon right on the back bumper of Morad on the restart.

Morad had a clean restart, but Robichon glued himself to his fellow Canadian. Morad wasn’t able to get more than a .461-of-a-second gap until Robichon went wide coming out of Turn 12. The brief off-track excursion caused Robichon to lose his front splitter and gave Morad the gap he needed to break away.

“I got a bit fortunate that Zach made a mistake,” Morad said. “But I am really impressed with Zach this year, and he’s driven incredibly well and his progression has been unbelievable. He’s definitely a rising talent. Same with Jesse.”

Over the next 11 minutes, Morad slowly pulled away from the field, building a 2.189-second lead. But behind him Lazare slowly reeled in Robichon.

Robichon was forced to the pits with eight minutes left, leaving second place to Lazare and elevating Hardeman to third.

The final full-course caution came out with five minutes to go after contact between Ricardo Perez, from Mexico City, in the No. 02 JDX Racing entry and Charlie Putman, from Casper, Wyoming, in the No. 40 Atlanta Motorsports Group Porsche.

The race ended under yellow, freezing the field and giving Morad the win. Morad stood on the top podium step four times this year before today, but all four came in his quest for the Canadian championship in the No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche. This was his first USA overall win.

“As far as I understand it, I just have to take the green flag tomorrow, and I win the North American Cup,” Morad said. “That was the plan coming into this series. Alegra Motorsports and Porsche Centre Oakville got together and decided the North American Cup was achievable, and I am thankful that they gave me the opportunity to come do this. Another championship on the resume doesn’t hurt, either!”

Lazare crossed the line in second, but a post-race penalty was assessed for a pass under yellow. The penalty dropped him to 14th.

Platinum Masters

Cirone earned his third USA win this season after sweeping the opener in mid-March at Sebring International Raceway.

Cirone is a four-time reigning Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Platinum Masters champion.

Like Morad, he led from class pole. He started in front of Mosing and escaped the incident on the first lap to cruise to the win.

“It’s such a privilege to come down here and race an incredible track like Road Atlanta,” Cirone said. “We only had a few days to learn the track, and I have to admit I’m still learning it, and it’s still scary and intimidating. But it’s coming, slowly but surely.”

David Baker, from Colleyville, Texas, finished second in class in the No. 56 TOPP Racing Porsche for his sixth podium finish of the season.

Baker started 20th and finished ninth overall, earning him the Yokohama Hard Charger award, given to the driver who advances the most places during the race.

Mosing continues to lead Poordad entering the final round, with the gap at 16 points. Mosing, from Austin, Texas, only needs to take the green flag Friday to clinch the championship.

Fred Kaimer, from Austin, Texas, rounded out the Masters podium in the No. 23 NGT Motorsport Porsche. It was Kaimer’s fifth podium finish of the season.

Gold Cup

Landy earned his ninth win of the season, taking a hard-fought victory over Phil Bloom, from New York, in the No. 11 Wright Motorsports Porsche.

Landy started from pole, but a power steering issue added an extra element of difficulty for him. He dropped back a few positions at the start. Gold Cup championship leader Michael de Quesada, from Tampa, Florida, took over the lead, but early contact pushed him to the back of the field.

Bloom was the benefactor, taking over first position. He led a majority of the race as Landy tried to find a way back to the front.

Landy found his hole when a Platinum Cup car separating the two passed Bloom. Landy took advantage and followed. He and Bloom went side-by-side in Turn 8. Landy took the lead through Turn 9, jockeyed with Bloom through Turns 10-12 and claimed the lead on the straightaway.

That decisive move delivered the victory to Landy.

“It was a lot of work,” Landy said. “We lost power steering coming out of the grid, so we had no power steering the whole time. There was a little bit of chaos at the start, and I was just trying to keep it as clean as possible. Philip (Bloom) got by me there, and honestly with the way the steering was, I was just trying to hang on and hold on to his tail and hopefully pressure him into making a mistake.

“I think he had some type of issue three-quarters of the way into the race, and I was able to get by and then nearly threw it all away when I was in front because I was hanging on for dear life close to the end.”

De Quesada ended up climbing through the field to take third place in the No. 31 Alegra Motorsports Porsche. The finish gives de Quesada an 11-point lead over Landy entering the final round. De Quesada must simply take the green flag in Round 16 to clinch his first championship.

Up Next:

Round 16 will start at 9:10 a.m. (ET) Friday. The race is 45 minutes.

 

DANIEL MORAD (No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports, winner): “It was tough coming into this weekend because most of the other drivers have had a few days of testing. This is my first time at Road Atlanta, and I was playing catch-up the entire time through practice, and we were just trying to figure out the car for race pace. The car, in terms of qualifying trim, was spot on. We’ve gotten seven pole positions in a row between Canada and the U.S. now. In terms of qualifying, no problem at all. But we were just working on our long-run pace, and in the race today, we were spot on. I got a bit fortunate that Zach (Robichon) made a mistake, but I am really impressed with Zach this year, and he’s driven incredibly well and his progression has been unbelievable. He’s definitely a rising talent. Same with Jesse (Lazare). Just racing these guys so clean. It was a great day, and Porsche Centre Oakville and Alegra Motorsports gave me a perfect car, and I just had to cruise it home.” (On the North American Cup): “As far as I understand it, I just have to take the green flag tomorrow, and I win the North American Cup. That was the plan coming into this series. Alegra Motorsports and Porsche Centre Oakville got together and decided the North American Cup was achievable, and I am thankful that they gave me the opportunity to come do this. Another championship on the resume doesn’t hurt, either!”

WILL HARDEMAN (No. 19 Moorespeed, second): “It feels like a regular thing because it’s not that big of a deal to just go out there and drive my qualifying laps like I know how to drive them and don’t make mistakes. It’s pretty simple. It gives me more headspace to watch the guys in front of me and see if they are getting loose and push just one tenth harder to reel them in. So I am starting to play those games and on a different level now. It’s starting to get a lot more fun, too!”

MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, first, Platinum Masters): “It’s such a privilege to come down here and race an incredible track like Road Atlanta. We only had a few days to learn the track, and I have to admit, I’m still learning it and it’s still scary and intimidating. But it’s coming, slowly but surely. I am sorry about what happened with Fred (Poordad) on the first lap. We made a little contact, and I still don’t know exactly what happened, but Fred’s and amazing driver and I am sorry he was out, especially since he was challenging for the Masters position. I just want to thank my team for giving me a great car and figuring out the setup. And such an amazing thank you to Liza and Michael Mrak for sending us down here. Such a privilege to be running with all the American drivers. They are extremely talented, and it’s extremely fun to race against them.”

SEBASTIAN LANDY (No. 49 TPC Racing, first, Gold Cup): “It was a lot of work. We lost power steering coming out of the grid, so we had no power steering the whole time. There was a little bit of chaos at the start, and I was just trying to keep it as clean as possible. Philip (Bloom) got by me there, and honestly with the way the steering was, I was just trying to hang on and hold on to his tail and hopefully pressure him into making a mistake. I think he had some type of issue three-quarters of the way into the race, and I was able to get by and then nearly threw it all away when I was in front because I was hanging on for dear life close to the end. Thanks to everyone at Forto Strong Coffee and TPC Racing for all they’ve done this year. It’s had its ups and downs, but we’ve had quite a few wins, and it’s a good feeling. The Yokohama tires held up really well today, and I was really happy to get the win. Hopefully starting from the pole tomorrow we can do it all again, this time with power steering.”

Source. LST Marketing

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