For the 13 drivers in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama series, their dreams will be realized this weekend as they get behind the wheel of their cars during a Formula One weekend at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada season are on tap this Saturday and Sunday at Montreal’s 2.71-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve . The two 45-minute sprint races are scheduled alongside the F1 Canadian Grand Prix, which will see superstars such as Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel at an event the country has hosted at various locations since 1961.
The significance of the weekend clearly isn’t lost on the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada drivers.
“Being able to race at such an historic track has an electric feeling in which only the lucky few get to experience,” said Michael Fantin, driver of the No. 14 Engineered Automotive Porsche. “For me, racing during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend has always been a dream to achieve. ”
Roman De Angelis in the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche knows the feeling.
“It’s still hard for me to believe that I have watched all my favorite drivers there since I was a kid and am now experiencing it for myself,” 17-year-old De Angelis said. “It truly is a dream for me.
“The track, the fans, the venue and just downtown Montreal with all of the Grand Prix weekend excitement is really fun to experience. To be a driver surrounded by thousands of fans, and on such an amazing track with so much history, really makes this one special. I think most of us drivers would agree it’s for sure on the top of the list.”
However, drivers can’t afford to get lost in the fanfare that comes with a F1 weekend. In fact, the scale of the event – which also includes support series Ferrari Challenge and Formula Tour 1600 – limits the track time drivers will get in their Porsche.
“It’s a very fast track, which makes it that much better and provides for real good racing and lots of great spots to pass,” said De Angelis, who has previous experience at the circuit in F1600. “It’s also much more technical than it seems, so to get it right and to be fast takes not only skill, but very precise setup from the team. Since we don’t have a lot of track time, you really need to get it right and get up to speed right out of the box.”
Because, after all, there is a Porsche GT3 Cup Canada championship at stake. Following the checkered flag of Sunday’s race, the season will be halfway complete with just six rounds remaining across three race weekends.
Leading the championship is Zach Robichon in the No. 98 Porsche for Mark Motors Racing, as the Ottawa native has won the first four races of 2018. Robichon’s four victories puts him 20 points ahead of his teammate De Angelis and 24 points ahead of OpenRoad Racing’s Remo Ruscitti in the No. 96.
Adding to the festivities surrounding the Canadian Grand Prix, Porsche will be hosting its first ever “Sports Car Together Day” in celebration of the marque’s 70th anniversary in 2018. Porsche invites fans to share their #SportscarTogether moment with fellow Porsche fanatics on social media, as well as at Porsche locations around the world.
“Montreal is just an unreal event,” Robichon described. “It’s going to be extra special because Porsche is going to be celebrating ‘Sports Car Together’ that weekend. We’re racing a Porsche on ‘Sports Car Together’ weekend in Montreal at the F1 race where we’re having the biggest event for Porsche Canada. This weekend is going to be surreal for us, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama activity kicks off on Friday, June 8 with two practice sessions, followed by Race 1 qualifying at 6 p.m. ET. Drivers will take the green flag on Saturday for Race 1 at 4:30 p.m. and for Race 2 on Sunday at 10:15 a.m. Fans onsite will be able to meet the drivers during a driver autograph session at the Yokohama Tire Service Center at 1 p.m. on Saturday.