Zach Robichon had never driven at Road America prior to Thursday’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama test sessions, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his performance in Friday qualifying or Saturday’s first 45-minute race of the series’ weekend doubleheader.
After qualifying the No. 19 Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car on the pole position Friday, Robichon led every lap en route to the victory – his first in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA, coming in his first start with Moorespeed as a replacement for sidelined regular driver Will Hardeman. The Canadian currently leads the 2018 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Platinum Cup standings with seven victories from the season’s eight races.
It was Moorespeed’s third consecutive flag-to-flag win at Road America, as former driver Corey Fergus accomplished the same feat in both races of the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA doubleheader at the track last year. Robichon has the chance to make it four in a row for the team tomorrow, as his fastest lap of Saturday’s race puts him on pole for Race #2 on Sunday.
“It came together pretty quick with Moorespeed,” Robichon said. “They gave me a fantastic car. We put together a good qualifying, so we knew we had the pace. We knew that, at the beginning of the race, we had to get a little bit of a gap, because the guys were going to be pushing hard, so we pushed hard and the car was fantastic.”
Anthony Imperato scored a season-best second-place result overall and in the Platinum Cup class, which is for 911 GT3 Cup cars built in 2017 or 2018, in the No. 91 Wright Motorsports entry. It was his third podium result of the season after third-place showings at Sebring in March and Mid-Ohio in May.
Platinum Cup points leader Trenton Estep battled back after dropping as low as sixth in the running order to finish third in the No. 3 JDX Racing Porsche. It was Estep’s eighth podium result in nine starts this season. He leads Roman De Angelis, who finished fourth on Saturday in the No. 1 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry, by 15 points, 286-271. German driver David Kolkmann rounded out the top five in the No. 71 Park Place Motorsports Porsche.
Michael Levitas picked up his third victory of he season in the Platinum Cup Masters class for drivers over the age of 45. Levitas took the lead just before the halfway point whenAlan Metni, who led Platinum Masters from the start, slowed on course due to an issue on his No. 99 AM Motorsports/Kelly-Moss Porsche.
“It does seem to work out pretty well,” Levitas said. “My team, TPC Racing, has done just a stellar job. It was real good break for TPC Racing. I’m glad to have the win. Thanks to all the competitors, to IMSA, to everybody. It was a really nice win.”
Charlie Luck finished second in Platinum Masters in the No. 45 Wright Motorsports entry, ahead of Mark Kvamme, who finished third in the No. 43 JDX Racing Porsche and also took Yokohama Hard Charger Award honors for most positions gained from start to finish in the Platinum Cup class. Luck continues to lead the Platinum Masters point standings by 14, 276-262, over Metni.
In the Gold Cup class, for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars built between 2014 and 2016, Kurt Fazekas picked up his third win of the season in the No. 52 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry with a last-to-first charge after an early spin in the race.
Fazekas took the lead when Gold Cup points leader and race leader Victor Gomez IV slowed on course in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport Porsche, bringing out a full-course caution. Fazekas closed the gap in the Gold Cup point standings to six, 292-286, behind Gomez with the victory.
“It was a lucky drive,” Fazekas said. “We got caught up in some bad stuff on the first lap. We got a great start and then going into Canada Corner (Turn 12), some guys got together. I tried to make a move on Gomez and we both kind of hit each other.
“When we did that, I spun backwards and I couldn’t get going again until the whole field passed, so from dead last to first, that was hard work. I’m really lucky to be here and I love this track. That’s back-to-back here and I’d like to keep it going tomorrow if we’re lucky again.”
Rob Ferriol finished second in Gold Cup in the No. 5 TPC Racing Porsche, with Sebastian Carazo coming home third in the No. 27 NGT Motorsport entry.
Saturday’s race finished under full-course caution after an incident in Turn 11 involving Dan Hardee in the No. 69 entry and Scott Welham in the No. 61. Both drivers were evaluated and released from the care center.
The second and final 45-minute GT3 Cup Challenge USA race of the weekend starts at 9:40 a.m. CT. The race will be streamed live on IMSA.com.