Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada CTMP Event News and Notes

RESCHEDULED ROUND 5 SUMMARY

The Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama competitors entered the final race weekend of the season facing several challenges. While the points battle in Gold Cup has been decisively clinched by young Roman De Angelis in the No. 78 entry for Mark Motors Racing, Platinum Cup and the Platinum Masters Championship are still tight, and anyone’s game.

And if that weren’t enough, add in a third race to be run just after Friday’s two practice sessions, making the season finale an all-out battle to grab as many points as possible, with Platinum Cup leader Scott Hargrove sitting in the “hot seat” at the top of the charts.

Round 5 from Watkins Glen International was rescheduled due to an incident on the first lap that impeded competition, forcing IMSA officials to abandon the race and reschedule for a later date.

Utilizing the starting grid that was previously set for the race during Watkins Glen qualifying, with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA entries extracted, it was Zach Robichon of Ottawa, Ontario, that had the advantage in his No. 98 Platinum entry for Mark Motors Racing, leading the pack to the Green Flag for the first of three 45-minute races of the weekend.

But that advantage dwindled as the race progressed, as second-place starter Scott Hargrove of Tsawwassen, British Columbia, in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry for Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol immediately put the pressure on Robichon and continued to turn it up as the laps ticked off, checking for opportunities and dancing in Robichon’s mirrors.

Despite Robichon’s clean lines and strong pace, Hargrove was able to outmaneuver him on Lap 12, taking the lead with a brilliant pass, and never looked back, logging his ninth victory thus far this season in only 12 rounds of competition and putting him ever closer to a set of keys for a lease on new 2017 911 GT3 courtesy of Porsche Cars Canada Ltd.

Robichon remained in step with Hargrove for several laps further, but a peaceful Friday evening drive was not to be, as the No. 31 of Michael de Quesada and Alegra Motorsports encroached on his turf.
De Quesada started in fourth, but moved up into third on the first lap when the No. 69 of Remo Ruscitti for OpenRoad Racing left a hole open and de Quesada, along with Patrick Dussault and Marco Cirone, took advantage and moved up.

As Robichon and de Quesada navigated the 10-turn road course in lock-step, it became clear that while de Quesada was quick around the 3.96-km (2.459-mile) track, he didn’t have enough to overtake Robichon and the two finished in second and third respectively on the Platinum Podium.

While the top three cars built over a 44-second gap on the field, the intensity began to progressively dial up for positions four through seven.

Cirone, who took advantage of the initial gap created by Ruscitti coasted the majority of the race in fourth position overall, seemingly out for a leisurely drive with a good gap on the rest of the field. But behind him, the battle was getting heated between the No. 77 of Dussault for Lauzon Autosport/GT Racing/Porsche Rive-Sud and Ruscitti.

Dussault, of Montreal, Quebec, defended his fifth-place position, but Vancouver native Ruscitti was all over his bumper as the clock counted down, popping out at every opportunity to overtake.

With only minutes remaining, Ruscitti finally found his opening on the inside of Turn 10, snaking around Dussault to gain the advantage. From there, his eyes were firmly on the back of Cirone’s No. 88, dialing up the speed to engage in a last-lap dogfight with the Platinum Masters contender. Despite Cirone’s best efforts, Ruscitti made his final pass on the very last lap of the race, taking fourth-place overall.

Undaunted, Cirone captured his seventh Platinum Masters victory and finished in the top five overall.

But the story continued. As the leaders approached lapped traffic, and it seemed the progression of the field would become convoluted, another strong battle emerged between Tim Sanderson in his No. 07 DFC Motorsport/Speedstar Motorsport entry for Downtown Porsche and Harry Rosen and his usual, but unusual rival De Angelis.

Despite the fact that the two are in two separate classes, Sanderson is currently second in points in the Platinum Masters championship for drivers 45 years and older, and De Angelis runs in Gold Cup – for cars from years 2014-2016, the two have run bumper-to-bumper nearly the entire season.
But while De Angelis, of Belle River, Ontario, could challenge Sanderson, he didn’t carry enough pace to overtake.

Sanderson finished in seventh overall and took the second step on the Platinum Masters Podium.
De Angelis had already secured the Gold Cup Championship at the last round in Trois-Rivieres, but like Hargrove, he accrued his ninth class victory and showed no signs of resting on his laurels.

Gaining two positions from his 12th starting position on the grid, Orey Fidani in the No. 13 entry for Pfaff Motorsports/Orlando Corporation rounded out the Gold Podium just behind De Angelis.

Starting from the back of the field due to a driver change, Max Tullman in the No. 83 entry for Tullman Walker Racing/Porsche Centre North Toronto finished in ninth place overall, earning him the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for advancing the most number of positions in Platinum.

Practice:

The drivers began the day with two 40-minute practice sessions designed to not only prepare for Round 5 racing, but also for a 20-minute qualifying session that will take place Saturday morning at 8:55 a.m.
Cooler temperatures in the region added an interesting element to both practice sessions, but as anticipated, it was Hargrove who set the fastest combined practice time of one minute, 18.710 seconds on Lap 4 of the cooler morning session to lead his closest points rival Robichon Friday.

As the track surface developed throughout the day, it was de Quesada that found his footing and increased his pace in the second session, to fall in behind Robichon on the practice charts in third in Platinum.

In Platinum Masters, it was points leader Cirone who held the fastest lap times, set in the second session, to end up in fourth overall at the end of practice and leading into rescheduled Round 5.

Race Event Quotes

Scott Hargrove – No. 9, Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol – Platinum Cup Winner

“It was fun, because every other race this year I’ve started first. So, to be behind and have to apply pressure and make a pass was a ton of fun and Zach [Robichon] knew that I was trying and he did a really good job defending. I probably had several chances [to overtake], but he took them all away, even from the first lap all the way up to the lap when I finally passed him. But it was one of those things where I was fully committed and it ended up working out. He gave me just enough room and we were side-by-side between Turn 10 and Turn 1 and I had the inside at that point and it was pretty much done and the Pfaff/Castrol car kicked in and all the work we’ve been doing all year showed off there. It was phenomenal and a breeze to drive and hopefully we can continue that for two more races.”

Marco Cirone – No. 88, Mark Motors Racing – Platinum Masters Winner

“That was a lot of fun. We had a great start at the beginning. I went from sixth to fourth and then I managed to keep fourth place for the longest time. I looked behind me and Patrick [Dussault] and Remo [Ruscitti] were fighting for many, many laps and that gave me a chance to build a little bit of a lead. But then when Remo got by Dussault he just hunted me down and on the last lap he got me. My hat’s off to him. He’s a great driver and I was just pushing a little too hard trying to keep him off. Perhaps I overheated my tires, but he did a great job pressuring me and I made the mistake and he didn’t so he deserves fourth place. I want to thank the team for always giving me a great car and for Mark Motors for bringing the team here and allowing us to race.”

Roman De Angelis – No. 78, Mark Motors Racing/Bestline Auto Tech – Gold Cup Winner

“Between the Platinum cars and the Gold Cars it’s pretty close. I think we had more more pace today. But as everyone else saw, Remo [Ruscitti] and [Patrick] Dussault were going at it pretty hard and I am in a different class. It’s the last weekend of the year and it’s not even my car so there’s no point in me doing any damage, so I just managed my pace and there was no need to take risks. I didn’t really try attacking. I think tomorrow [Saturday] and Sunday maybe I will try to work with these guys. Overall it was just a really fun race. I enjoyed watching and didn’t have much action myself and just hung back.”

Max Tullman – No. 83, Tullman Walker Racing/Porsche Centre North Toronto – Yokohama Hard Charger Award Winner

“I had to start from the back because of the Watkins Glen incident because we had a change of driver. Throughout the race, the tires were pretty good and we didn’t fall off lap times. I am just looking forward to qualifying for tomorrow’s race and having a great rest of the weekend.”

RACE 1 SUMMARY

The penultimate race of the season for Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama competitors Saturday felt a lot like Friday’s Round 5, rescheduled from Watkins Glen International, but with a twist.

While the end results look exceedingly similar and the No. 9 of Scott Hargrove in the Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol entry sailed across the finish line to take his 10th season victory, more importantly, he also clinched the Platinum Cup Series Championship for 2017.

This is Hargrove’s second Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series championship, having won his first title in 2015. Sunday’s championship celebration will see the Tsawwassen, British Columbia, resident collecting the keys to a one-year lease on a new Porsche 911 road car in recognition of his race craft.

And the rest of the Platinum championship stacks up just like the Round 11 race results.

Zach Robichon, who has driven a superb season in the No. 98 entry for Mark Motors Racing continued to challenge Hargrove, as he has all season long. A fierce competitor and a true sportsman, the Ottawa native drove a strong, clean race, but was unable to bring the battle to Hargrove, and settled for second place in the race and the series championship.

Alegra Motorsport’s Michael de Quesada, who is more than familiar with the twists and turns of the 3.96-km (2.459-mile) road course, having also competed on its familiar 10 turns as part of IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in a GTD entry, followed the same pattered as Friday’s race as well.

The 17-year-old started in third place and demonstrated a pace that was nearly enough to catch Robichon throughout the race, but as the checkered flag dropped he just didn’t have enough throttle to make a move and finished on the third step of the podium, and in the series championship.

And while many of the same battles brewed around the historic Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the Platinum Masters Championship threw in a variable.

Marco Cirone in the No. 88 entry for Mark Motors Racing had a commanding victory in Friday’s race, but started in eighth on the grid Saturday, behind rival Tim Sanderson in the No. 07 DFC Motorsport/Speedstar Motorsport entry for Harry Rosen/Downtown Porsche.

Sanderson locked in behind his Gold Cup dance partner, Roman De Angelis in the No. 78 entry for Mark Motors/Bestline Auto Tech, and kept the throttle down, enjoying a heated battle with the No. 77 of Patrick Dussault for Lauzon Autosport/GT Racing and Porsche Rive-Sud and the No. 69 of OpenRoad Racing’s Remo Ruscitti.

Sanderson and Ruscitti swapped positions several times in the last few minutes of the race, but Sanderson was ultimately able to outfox the younger driver and take the victory for the Platinum Masters class, relegating Cirone to second place.

Cirone was far from disappointed in his finish however, as his second-place run clinched his fifth Platinum Masters Championship in a row, making him the winningest championship driver in series history.

Pieter Baljet enjoyed a spirited drive in his No. 15 entry for Porsche Centre Victoria, mixing it up with fellow Platinum Masters entry Neal Walker in the No. 71 car of Tullman Walker Racing and the No. 13 Gold Cup entry of Orey Fidani for Pfaff Motorsports/Orlando Corporation. He didn’t have quite the power to catch Cirone, but was pleased to finish the 45-minute sprint in third place in class and third in the class championship.

De Angelis, who normally is a focal point of Sanderson’s rear view mirror, enjoyed his cruise though Platinum traffic, as he held off Sanderson and fellow Gold competitor Fidani to take his ninth victory of the season. De Angelis has already secured the Gold Cup Championship after Trois-Rivieres, but Fidani’s drive Saturday not only earned him the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions in the race, but also second place in the class championship.

Of Note:

Porsche Canada launched a new fan initiative called the “Spirit of Speed” that centers around a new trophy created solely out of Yokohama Tire rubber in the form of a ¼ scale model of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car that will be awarded to someone in the series that best demonstrates true dedication, loyalty and sportsmanship and the values shared by all the Series partners, officials and constituents. The trophy was unveiled Saturday in Yokohama Hospitality as a preview of Sunday’s championship celebrations.

Qualifying:

While the season may be winding down, Hargrove is still winding up. In qualifying earlier in the day, the Platinum points leader ensured his starting position, by setting a new GT3 Cup Challenge track record, clocking a lap of one minute, 18.488 seconds, eclipsing his time set earlier at the series season opener in May.

Sanderson captured the fastest lap for the Platinum Masters class, outpacing Cirone in an unusual twist on the normal qualifying scene.

And in Gold, it was Roman De Angelis settling into his usual top spot to lead the Gold Cup class charge.

Race Event Quotes

Scott Hargrove – No. 9, Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol – Platinum Cup Winner

“It feels unreal. It’s just such a good year. Everything went our way. I think we have one race left, so hopefully one race left to win but we’ve won all but one so far. The car’s been unreal all year and I feel like I am on top of my game. The Pfaff guys give me a great car. Castrol – great support and of course Yokohama, Porsche and Ultra 94 for putting on such a great series and giving us these machines to go and beat around with. I was overwhelmed at the end there. I had to celebrate and did some donuts and I can’t wait to hopefully get another win tomorrow and end the year with 11 for 12 wins.”

Tim Sanderson – No. 07, DFC Motorsport/Speedstar Motorsport – Platinum Masters Winner

“We had a great race. Went as well as I could have hoped for. We tried to catch Roman but we didn’t have anything for him but man we had some fun with the Patrick [Dussault] and Remo [Ruscitti]. They kept me honest and I couldn’t nap at all. Just kept on going. The car was awesome. Thanks to the guys from Speedstar Motorsport and Downtown Porsche for preparing a great car, it was the best it’s been all weekend and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Roman De Angelis – No. 78, Mark Motors Racing/Bestline Auto Tech – Gold Cup Winner

“I think it wasn’t the most fun I’ve had in a race, it was pretty stressful but P4 overall is honestly pretty awesome. It’s a really good feeling. I am really, really happy for the team, especially since it’s not our own car. We struggled with it all weekend. I feel pretty bad for Remo [Ruscitti], he spun, but he had a good run going. But you have to take every position that you can in this sport. So I am just really happy where we ended up. Really happy for Mark Motors and Bestline.”

Orey Fidani – No. 13, Pfaff Motorsports/Orlando Corporation – Yokohama Hard Charger Award Winner

“My run was pretty good. My car was a little bit ‘under-steery.’ I just tried to keep it on track and hold my position. I am just glad to be back in the car. This year’s been a chaotic season, but thanks to my team for putting together a great car.”

RACE 2 SUMMARY

It seemed as though the final race of the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama would have an anticlimactic finish Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The morning saw chilly temperatures and a steady drizzle and mist that created poor visibility and treacherous racing conditions.

With all of the Series Championships solidified in Saturday’s race, it seemed as though the 45-minute race around the 10-Turn twisty road course would simply be an exercise in preservation.

Mark Motors Racing decidedly disagreed with that course of action, however, as their lime green and black stable dialed up the racing action on the 3.96-km (2.459-mile) slippery surface and proved that it would not be a Sunday cruise.

At the drop of the green flag, Zach Robichon of Ottawa, Ontario, in the No. 98 for Mark Motors made a gutsy move on series champion Scott Hargrove in the No. 9 for Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol, firmly announcing that the dogfight for the lead had begun.

The pair swapped positions throughout the first lap, but the rainfall increased and a full-course caution was issued on Lap 2 due to three cars spinning out independently of one another and making contact with the tire barriers. As the yellow flag came out, it was Robichon who had captured the lead and drove his Mark Motors entry all the way to Victory Lane and the overall and Platinum Cup victory.

This is Robichon’s second victory of the season, the first at Watkins Glen International under very similar conditions, which proves that Robichon has an affinity for rainy racing conditions.

Second to cross the finish line was another familiar lime green car, but not who you might normally expect. As the green flag dropped, the No. 78 of Roman De Angelis in Gold Cup driving a 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car made a bold move in the rain from his eighth-place starting position, pushing through traffic like a man on a mission to steal third place, just behind Hargrove.

As the race progressed, De Angelis brought the battle to Hargrove. The two of slid around the course engaged in a contest of wills and tire traction. As the track went back to green after the first caution period, De Angelis caught Hargrove and moved up to second. But despite already clinching the championship Saturday, Hargrove pushed hard to find any advantage through the dismal conditions.

On Lap 19, Hargrove was able to gain his position back with a bold move, but De Angelis didn’t back down and the 16-year-old took it back just one lap later to take the checkered flag, second-place overall and the victory in Gold Cup. Hargrove ultimately finished third overall and second in Platinum Cup.

The No. 69 of Remo Ruscitti, who drove three fiercely competitive races this weekend, remained extremely consistent Sunday in his Platinum entry for OpenRoad Racing. The Vancouver, British Columbia, driver maintained his fourth-place position from the start, and his great view of the De Angelis/Hargrove battle to finish as he started, and claim the third step on the Platinum podium.

But still, Mark Motors Racing wasn’t finished.

The No. 07 of Tim Sanderson for DFC Motorsport/Speedstar Motorsport for Downtown Porsche and Harry Rosen was one of the victims of the weather and spun out with light contact to the wall which caused the first caution. He was joined by the No. 77 of Patrick Dussault for Lauzon Autosport/GT Racing for Porsche Rive-Sud/Lauzon who had a similar issue, and the No. 31 of Michael de Quesada of Alegra Motorsports. All three had independent incidents and Sanderson and Dussault were forced to retire from competition.

The incident paved the way for Platinum Masters Champion Marco Cirone in the No. 88 for Mark Motors Racing to jump up to fifth position as the caution period ended. For the remainder of the race he enjoyed spirited competition from de Quesada, who fought to regain the ground he lost during the yellow and the No. 83 of Max Tullman for Tullman Walker Racing. While the five-time Platinum Masters Champion conceded ground and finished seventh overall, he captured his ninth victory of the season.

Tullman’s teammate Neal Walker in the No. 71 entry locked in behind Cirone to take his second podium of the season in Masters competition with his second-place finish.

Pieter Baljet in the No. 15 for Porsche Centre Victoria started in 12th position on the grid, and was able to move up three positions to win the Platinum Yokohama Hard Charger Award as well as third in class.

And while De Angelis charged through the field, the No. 13 of Orey Fidani for Pfaff Motorsports/Orlando Corporation played out a different strategy, keeping a more reserved pace and maintaining consistency until a loss of traction on Lap 18 pushed him into the gravel, causing one more full-course caution period for the race and ending his day in second place on the podium.

The competitors ended their season with a celebration Sunday afternoon in nearby Oshawa, Ontario, collecting their Championship honors and celebrating with friends, family, teams, partners, officials and other series constituents.

Race Event Quotes

Zach Robichon – No. 98, Mark Motors Racing – Platinum Cup Winner

“We struggled this weekend and we don’t know why. That’s the worst of it. You know, sometimes you come in and you know you made a mistake on the setup and we have no idea why we were struggling so much this weekend. We made changes and we were practically turning the car upside down and maybe rain is what we needed all year. Both races in the rain we were able to win.

Like I was saying earlier, I was just driving that car. What they did to that car was unbelievable and it did everything I wanted it to. Especially at a track like this that is notoriously slippery in the rain. It was easy to drive and it was so much fun.

I made a bold move on the first lap. I wanted to, without sounding arrogant, sort of tell Scott [Hargrove] ‘I’m tired of finishing second’ and we’re going to have a real race here. So, I sent it around the outside in Turn 1 and it worked. We touched a little bit, but it worked out and after that, the first three laps I was told I was going too fast. The team told me to slow down and I basically set a target lap time and I was just aiming for that. Just making no mistakes and I could see I was pulling away slowly but surely. I was saving tires and it worked out, especially after the restart. It was a good thing they told me that. I needed those tires at the restart and was able to pull a gap on everyone. It’s thanks to them for telling me to slow down. I said it yesterday, if I just listened to them more often we would probably do better. So today I just told myself to do what they say and thanks to Mark Motors and Bestline. This one’s for them and we will see what happens next.”

Marco Cirone – No. 88, Mark Motors Racing – Platinum Masters Winner

“It was pretty scary to drive the new car in the rain. We haven’t had much practice with it. Certainly the power makes a big difference. The stiffness of the chassis. It was a little bit difficult for me to keep up with the pace but I was just happy I kept it on the track for 45 minutes because it’s a scary car to drive in the rain. Hats off to Zach [Robichon] and Scott [Hargrove] and congratulations to Scott, the Champion, my teammate Roman [De Angelis] who did an absolutely amazing job and thanks to Mark Motors.”

Roman De Angelis – No. 78, Mark Motors Racing/Bestline Auto Tech – Gold Winner

“It was the most fun I have had in a car, ever. One in the rain and two I think starting eighth really made it. I mean Lap 1 was a blast. We went from eighth to third in Lap 1. I knew Scott [Hargrove] was quicker so I just kept trying to lead him to a mistake and bring him too deep and I guess it paid off in the end. I am so happy for Zach [Robichon] as well. One-two for Mark Motors in the wet is really an amazing way to end the season.”

Pieter Baljet– No. 15, Porsche Centre Victoria – Yokohama Hard Charger Award Winner

“Today was pretty much about survival. Our tire temperatures didn’t come up the way we thought they would so we had very low levels of grip and it was a little frustrating just trying to stay on the track, but it was a great day. The Pfaff team does a great job and it’s the end of the season. Here we are and I can’t believe it went so fast.”

Source. LST Marketing

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