On one of the toughest street circuits in North America, Zach Robichon proved his skill yet again Sunday afternoon at Honda Indy Toronto, topping the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama field for the seventh time this season.
Piloting the No. 98 Mark Motors Racing Porsche, Robichon conquered the 2.824-kilometer (1.755 miles) circuit – located in downtown Toronto and famous for its temporary walls and bumpy surface – by taking home both Porsche GT3 Cup Canada wins over the course of the three-day event weekend.
Starting from the pole position on Sunday afternoon, the Ottawa native had his hands full early on as he held off the charging duo of teammate Roman De Angelis in the No. 78 Mark Motors Porsche and Remo Ruscitti in the No. 96 OpenRoad Racing Porsche.
On Lap 2, however, the tough street circuit bested De Angelis, who – running second place at the time – was forced to heavily lock the brakes and slide slightly off track to halt his momentum heading into Turn 3 behind Robichon. As a result, De Angelis brought his No. 78 Porsche to the pits, dropping as far as 10th place before climbing back through the field to finish fifth.
Meanwhile, with the action in his rearview mirror, Robichon was able to set sail for the remainder of the 45-minute race.
“Mark Motors Racing once again provided me an amazing car,” said Robichon. “We were able to get out front right at the beginning. It was a little bit hairy there on the start and there was some action behind me, which allowed me to pull a little bit of a gap.
“After that, it was all about setting myself a target lap time and just pushing it all the time. The heat played an impact because it caused a little bit of overheating in the tires, so I was managing that the whole race trying to figure out just how much grip I had… All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and just another great result for the team.”
De Angelis’ struggles on Sunday afternoon favor Robichon in the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada championship standings, with the latter now opening up a 32-point gap over his teammate.
“There’s still lots of racing to go,” said Robichon. “Roman’s had two unfortunate incidents, one at Sebring (International Raceway in March) and one here, and that can easily happen to me at the next one. It’s the same mentality going to the next two race weekends – don’t make a mistake and keep pushing out front and hopefully bring home some more wins.”
Ruscitti came home second on the Platinum class podium, a welcome result for the team which has seen some misfortune in recent races.
“If you go back all the way to Montreal (in June), it was a really tough weekend for myself when I felt like I had a really strong pace to win there as well,” said Ruscitti. “We bounced back. We started this weekend really well, fastest (in Practice 1 on Friday), and then struggled a little bit throughout the weekend. Missed qualifying yesterday and then a really tough day yesterday getting hit in Turn 1 and essentially ending my race. To come back, almost get the lead on the start and finish P2, it was a great result for me and OpenRoad Racing.”
Third on the podium was Porsche GT3 Cup Canada rookie Michael Di Meo in the No. 35 Policaro Motorsport / SportsCarBoutique Porsche. Di Meo’s team also overcame damage from the same incident as Ruscitti on Saturday to memorably get the Toronto native’s first podium of the season at his home track. Di Meo has been attending the annual Indy Toronto race since 1999.
Sweeping the Platinum Masters class at Indy Toronto was Perry Bortolotti in the No. 84 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. Bortolotti, a part-time participant in the series, described how Sunday’s warm weather impacted the race, which went without a full-course caution.
“It’s above expectations not being in the car all the time and having the seat time,” said Bortolotti. “It’s just coming out and hoping to have a good strong finish and geez, the harder you work sometimes the luckier you get, right? It worked out good, but it was a tough, tough day out there with the heat. The last couple laps, the heat was getting to me, just like heat exhaustion. But everyone came home relatively safe I think, so it was a good race and a good weekend.”
Marco Cirone in the No. 18 Mark Motors Racing Porsche also took home the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada Gold class victory as well as the day’s Yokohama Hard Charger Award.
Only four rounds remain in 2018 for the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama and up next is the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres in Quebec on August 10 – 11.