It was a full-course caution in the middle of Saturday’s Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama race that set the stage for a thrilling Race 1 at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (GP3R).
After the No. 83 Porsche of James Walker and the No. 76 of Michel Bonnet tangled in Turn 6 midway through the 45-minute race, the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada field packed up for the final dash to the finish, with Zach Robichon in the No. 98 Mark Motors Racing Porsche ready to hold off teammate Roman De Angelis in second.
Yet as the green flag waved, De Angelis’ No. 78 got a quick start on Robichon and the pair battled alongside each other heading into Turns 1 and 2. Ultimately, Robichon was able to position his racecar to close off De Angelis.
Robichon went on to win his eighth race of the season by 5.523 seconds.
“Roman had a really good restart,” said Robichon, who just last weekend swept the Porsche GT3 Cup USA by Yokohama races at Road America in his series’ American counterpart debut. “I messed it up a little bit, admittedly, and he moved around behind me. I completely lost him in my mirror, so I wasn’t actually sure where he was in Turn 1.
“I was scrambling to find him and as I turned into (Turn) 2, I saw him over on the left, so I tried to give him just enough room. I went a little wide in Turn 2, but I also went pretty deep to make sure he wasn’t able to out-brake me. Then I was able to clear him on the exit on Turn 2.”
Race 1 at GP3R is the seventh Mark Motors Racing 1-2 finish through nine races in 2018, as De Angelis held on to the runner-up spot.
“Really great job from (De Angelis), it was a heck of a move that he did, full credit,” said Robichon. “We were just able to hold him off. It was good, it was tense and overall I’m really happy with the car and Mark Motors for another 1-2.”
Finishing third was Etienne Borgeat, who returned for his third race in Porsche GT3 Cup Canada this year in the No. 2 Lauzon Autosport Porsche. Sitting fourth during the full-course caution, Borgeat readied to pass the No. 8 of Stefan Rzadzinski on the restart. The Quebecker was able to do so to secure the final spot on the podium, in addition to the Platinum Masters victory.
“It was quite tough, to keep up and keep putting pressure on (Rzadzinski),” Borgeat said. “After that, seeing the opportunities – especially the full course yellow – I thought I would have a second chance to get him and that’s what happened. It was a pretty tough race, but I love this track, I love this place. It was very competitive and I miss that type of racing.”
Saturday’s Yokohama Hard Charger Award for gaining the most positions during the race belonged to Remo Ruscitti in the No. 96 OpenRoad Racing Porsche. Ruscitti settled for fourth place behind Borgeat, but not without a last-minute attempt for third.
“I think the yellow probably hurt us a little bit because we had a better long run pace compared to Etienne and Stefan in front of us,” said Ruscitti. “As the race progressed in the final minutes there, I really had a shot. I got past Stefan when he made a small mistake in Turn 1 and I felt like I was pressuring Etienne pretty hard. Just ran out of time. But yeah, we’ll go back and regroup in the morning and try to give those green cars a fight tomorrow.”
Despite the tangle midway through the race, Michel Bonnet in the No. 76 Mark Motors Racing Porsche took home the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada Gold class victory.
The Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama field now prepares for Race 2 at GP3R, scheduled for Sunday at 10 a.m. ET. The race can be streamed live on IMSA.tv.