Snow Changes the Landscape at VIR, Landy Emerges Victorious
VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) knows how to shake things up. Sprinkle in a little Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama action, and you have a catalyst for change.
Consistency has been the name of the game this season, with the top three competitors in Platinum Cup points finishing routinely in the same positions each event. While the processional progression stuttered slightly at the last race in Road America a few weeks ago, Saturday at VIR it was entirely upended.
Sebastian Landy claims the 3.27-mile scenic road course in southwest Virginia as his home track and Saturday that claim led to his first overall and Platinum Cup victory of the 2017 season in the No. 49 entry for Alex Job Racing and Forto Strong Coffee.
It was an epic battle throughout the 45-minute sprint race, with cars running four-wide at one point, multiple changes for position, and drag races down the track’s longer straights. In the end, with an amazing pass on leader McKay Snow just before the white flag flew, it was Landy who came out on top in front of his hometown crowd of friends and family.
While the final pass for the lead was spectacular, it was eventual second-place finisher McKay Snow, in the No. 63 entry for Wright Motorsports and Snow Racing, who set the standard for impressive for much of the first of two races this weekend at VIR. The young driver led from the pole, and not only held on to his position and set the fastest lap of the race, but built a significant gap to hold the lead for 22 of 24 laps.
A yellow-flag on Lap 21 to recover the No. 78 Gold Cup entry of Roman De Angelis for Mark Motors Racing caused the field to pack up, and created a “green, white, checkered” scenario, putting immense pressure on the front runners when racing resumed.
The Platinum pack of Landy, Jake Eidson in the No. 24 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry, and the No. 3 of Trenton Estep for JDX Racing/Hertz was ready for a fight to the finish. The three competitors had been driving in a three-car freight train since Lap 11, at one point running four-wide as they entered lapped car traffic.
Landy and Estep split the No. 24 of Eidson on Lap 19, creating a brilliant pass that put the crowd on its feet and the pair up to second and third in class respectively, relegating Eidson to fourth before the yellow.
The confident move put them hard on Snow’s heels at the late-race caution, and as the field went back to green, it was a drag race to the finish that allowed for Landy’s victory, with Snow claiming his first series podium after a nearly flawless performance.
Estep, who has finished on the Platinum podium seven times in only nine starts, captured his eighth podium finish to collect valuable championship points.
In Platinum Masters competition, for drivers ages 45 years and older, it was smooth sailing for David Baker in the No. 56 entry for TOPP Racing. Baker started in 10th position overall and not only held his ground throughout the race, but managed to enter a battle for position with Gold leader De Angelis for some mixed-class racing.
De Angelis, who was leading the Gold class, sustained a mechanical issue and was forced to retire from the race, pushing Baker up to an eighth-place overall finish and victory in class over Mark Kvamme in the No. 43 entry for JDX Racing.
Kvamme, who started in 16th position overall, ran a superior race, gaining five positions to finish 11th overall and second in Platinum Masters, earning him the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for gaining the most positions in Platinum competition.
In Gold Cup competition, the No. 25 of Victor Gomez IV running for NGT Motorsport/Mapfre/Porsche Center of Puerto Rico started in 11th overall and began his steady hunt for De Angelis, but just minutes into the race, his teammate Fred Kaimer in the No. 23 car jumped into his mirrors, having gained two positions in two laps.
The two marched cleanly through the field, gaining positions and the advantage after De Angelis’s retirement to finish 10th and 11th overall, and first and second in class to round out the podium presentations for the day.
Snow really was “ahead” Saturday in Qualifying, following the family motto and title of their website. The 19-year-old pushed the loud pedal early and hard in the 20-minute qualifying session, getting a good gap early in the crowd of 911 GT3 Cup cars, setting his fastest time on Lap 3 of one minute, 48.136 seconds to take the pole position in Platinum Cup. Believing the time to be good enough to stick, the No. 63 of Wright Motorsports/Snow Racing pulled in to wait out the rest of the session.
Teammate Anthony Imperato in the No. 91 entry for Henry Repeating Arms made a valiant charge early on, and continued to chase Snow’s lap times, with the No. 24 of Jake Eidson of Kelly-Moss Road and Race hard on his rear bumper. But neither driver had enough juice and as the session concluded, Snow’s lap stonewalled the competition.
As anticipated in Gold Cup competition, Roman De Angelis didn’t disappoint, running a fast lap of 1:49.280 in his No. 78 Mark Motors entry, taking the class lead and qualifying in ninth overall, just ahead of the highest qualifying Platinum Masters entry, David Baker in the No. 56 for TOPP Racing who started in 10th.
Race 1 Driver Quotes:
Sebastian Landy – No. 49, Alex Job Racing/Forto Strong Coffee – Platinum Winner
“Starting fifth is always tricky. Qualifying is super important in this class [Platinum]. I wanted to just be able to keep it clean and gain a couple of spots at the start. That didn’t happen, like it never seems to for me. But I just kept my head down and tried to take advantage of every opportunity that I got from then. I got a little bit of a lucky break with traffic and jumped two cars in one, which was a little scary at the time. The setup of the car was really good. I have to thank everyone at Alex Job Racing for that. We’ve been working our butts off all year and this weekend to try to get the results that I think we are capable of and end on an upswing. And I think that’s finally coming out and showing. The set-up came to me definitely, whereas I think some people faded a little bit. So, I was really able to take advantage of it the last couple of laps.”
David Baker – No. 56, TOPP Racing – Platinum Masters Winner
“It’s a different kind of pressure when you have to keep your focus out there. But Victor Gomez kept me honest the whole race. I had a good race. It was fun.”
Victor Gomez IV – No. 25, NGT Motorsport – Gold Cup Winner
“I am really happy with a P1. It was a really uneventful race. I was behind Baker most of the race, but he was steady and I just locked in behind him and took my chances.”
Mark Kvamme – No. 43, JDX Racing – Yokohama Hard Charger Award Winner
“I was the ‘little rabbit that could.’ It was a great race. This track is such a spectacular track what’s really fun is that there are 17 turns and everyone was so clean. That’s what was really nice about it. It was a great race and you know, finally I have a little bit of rabbit in me so I am pretty happy about that.”
ROAD AMERICA RACE 2 SUMMARY
Landy Makes it a Clean Sweep at VIR
They say home is where the heart is, and for Sebastian Landy, his heart and his right foot were clearly at home at VIRginia International Raceway as he completed a two-race sweep Sunday morning to take his second Platinum Cup victory of the weekend on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn cruise through the rolling hills of Alton, Virginia.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama driver from Great Falls, Virginia claims VIR as his home track, and was thrilled to once again see the top step of the overall and Platinum Cup podium in his No. 49 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry for Alex Job Racing and Forto Strong Coffee.
But the Sunday morning drive was not without mishap for some of the series competitors, who mixed up the action and the finishing order as the race progressed.
While Landy ultimately took home the victory, it was Trenton Estep in the No. 3 JDX Racing/Hertz entry who came tantalizingly close to his second win of the season, only to falter due to issues with a rear tire.
Estep, who started third behind pole sitter McKay Snow and Anthony Imperato gained immediate ground on Lap 1, taking advantage over the No. 91 of Imperato with Wright Motorsports and Henry Repeating Arms to move smoothly up to second place in class. Estep held his ground and patiently began to reel in the No. 63 of Snow with Wright Motorsports and Snow Racing.
Snow faltered and spun off-track on Lap 11, dropping seven positions and conceding the lead to Estep, who proceeded to grow a strong gap on Landy and the No. 24 of Jake Eidson for Kelly-Moss Road and Race.
And while it looked like smooth sailing for Estep, a rear tire going down just five minutes before the end of the 45-minute sprint race ended his day early, giving the advantage over to Landy.
Eidson had a brilliant, smooth drive throughout the race, but he didn’t have enough juice to catch Landy in the last few minutes, and was relegated to a second-place finish in Platinum and overall.
Just behind Eidson, the Moorespeed duo of Corey Fergus in the No. 00 entry for US LED/Byers Imports and and the No. 19 of Will Hardeman for Continental Automotive Group enjoyed a spirited race of teammates, running nearly neck-and-neck throughout the sprint. The pair started in sixth and eighth respectively and benefited from the attrition up front, progressing up the timing chart, all the while challenging each other’s race craft until the checkered flag.
Fergus led Hardeman on a merry chase, and eventually captured the third-place finish and valuable points toward the class championship. Hardeman settled for fourth with Snow recovering to round out the top five overall positions.
In his usual display of speed and maturity, 16-year-old Roman De Angelis earned some redemption from his Saturday off-track adventure and cut a path through Platinum traffic to earn the Gold Cup victory and finish sixth overall. He has already clinched the Canadian GT3 Cup Challenge Gold Championship and is hoping to repeat that result in the United States.
He had a fierce battle, as he normally does, with the No. 56 Platinum Masters entry of David Baker and TOPP Racing. The two ran in tandem for the majority of the race, with Baker finishing just behind the younger driver in seventh place overall, taking his second Masters victory of the weekend.
Yesterday’s Gold winner, Victor Gomez IV in the No. 25 entry for NGT Motorsport/Mapfre/Porsche Center of Puerto Rico locked in behind Baker and tried to catch De Angelis for the class lead, but was unable to catch the pair, finishing second in Gold, just ahead of teammate and rival Fred Kaimer in the No. 23 for NGT Motorsport.
The two have a great friendly rivalry and battled cleanly with Platinum traffic, but it was the No. 42 of Bill Smith for TOPP Racing and Kung-Fu Saloon that gained the most positions, a total of four, to win the Yokohama Hard Charger Award.
Mark Kvamme, who was awarded that honor in the Platinum category Saturday, kept his forward momentum and once again took home second place honors behind Baker in Platinum Masters.
Coming up next for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama competitors are Rounds 13 and 14 at Sonoma Raceway in support of the IndyCar Series in Sonoma, California, Sept. 15 – 17.
Race 2 Driver Quotes
Sebastian Landy – No. 49, Alex Job Racing/Forto Strong Coffee – Platinum Winner
“I am pretty thrilled with how the weekend has gone. Coming out of Road America, those were the two best results we had all year. You want to take momentum in the next weekend but at the same time I don’t think we expected two wins to come from this weekend. Especially when we rolled off the trailer not as good as we wanted to be.
“We were struggling with the car even though qualifying. But we have been working hard all year and definitely this weekend and the guys were up last night until midnight to make sure the car was good for today. Really happy for them and for Forto Strong Coffee too because these are the results we deserved all year and we are finally able to show what we are capable of.
“I feel for Trenton [Estep] really bad because he drove an amazing race and he got away from me at the start and we were running about the same pace but I couldn’t catch him and he didn’t make a single mistake and then, to have that happen really sucks. It was definitely his race today and I am sorry about that. But you have to be there to take advantage of those opportunities I guess.”
David Baker – No. 56, TOPP Racing – Platinum Masters Winner
“It was great. I got to race with Victor [Gomez IV] again. It was great and I finally got past him and we just set sail. I want to thank Apex Capital, my sponsor, TOPP Racing, Todd [Opperman] and the rest of the crew. Great group and a great car.”
Roman De Angelis – No. 78, Mark Motors Racing – Gold Cup Winner
“I think it was an amazing job by the crew to get an engine put in overnight. It wasn’t even overnight, I think they got it down to four hours. I think to come back and win is really important for the team. It just shows how good we are. It just shows that it’s not all about the driver. The guys still have to work on the car right? I am really happy with that. I am happy for everyone who helped. NGT [Motorsport] and a bunch of other teams helped us out, so to get a win is pretty amazing. I am really happy about it.”
Bill Smith – No. 42, TOPP Racing/Kung-Fu Saloon – Yokohama Hard Charger Award Winner
“It’s been an interesting weekend. We had some mechanical trouble yesterday and the power steering went out. So, it was a real pleasure today to drive the car with powers steering. Made it seem a lot easier. It made a big difference. Every time you face diversity you learn a little something from it and I am still a rookie at this, so I am still learning every day. The Yokohama tires held up great and it was a great day for me.”
Source. LST Marketing