Throughout this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, the rest of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama field will be trying to do what nobody could two weeks ago at Road America, and that’s find a way past Zach Robichon in the No. 19 Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machine.
Standing in for the sidelined Will Hardeman in the No. 19, Robichon made his first appearance of the season in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA doubleheader at Road America.
Despite never having driven at Road America prior to Thursday’s test day, Robichon put the car on pole in qualifying Friday, led every lap en route to victory in Saturday’s race, set the fastest lap in that race to score the pole position for Sunday and then led every lap again in that race to sweep the weekend.
“It was huge,” said Robichon of his Road America weekend. “Any time you join a new team, it’s all about trusting the people. Right from the beginning, from the first time I sat in the car, I could see their confidence just from the conversations that we’ve had. I’d gotten the chance to see them on track, so I knew that they delivered great cars and that they were going to be prepared. But I think the big thing for me, which was really great was, basically the second I got in the car, the team trusted me.
“As a driver, that’s something you’re always looking for. They believed and worked with me every step of the way from the word ‘Go.’ That, as a driver, instills a certain level of confidence, knowing that the team is backing you. You trust them as much as they trust you. For me, that was actually the most important thing, because I was able to deliver what I needed to say and what changes I wanted on the car and they never second-guessed me. As a driver, any time you can get that additional confidence really makes a big difference. Those guys are just fantastic.”
He’s back for more this weekend at VIR, which is hosting the 11th and 12th races of the 16-race, 2018 GT3 Cup Challenge USA season. The first race of the weekend runs from 11:20 am to 12:05 pm EDT on Saturday, with the second round scheduled to run from 9:15 to 10 am EDT Sunday. Both races will be streamed live on IMSA.tv.
Based on the performance at Road America, Robichon likes his chances heading to the 3.27-mile VIR circuit. However, it’s another place where he hasn’t raced before.
“It’s a bit like we did at Road America,” he said. “We were lucky enough to have that Thursday promoter day for us to work with. That’s going to be a really important day (this week at VIR) for us to get started on the right foot.
“It’s my first time there, and I’m also racing an LMP3 car (in IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda), so luckily, I’ll have a lot of track time between the two cars to learn the track and get comfortable. We proved it last time that the guys from Moorespeed are capable of building phenomenal cars and putting together a fast car at track. If anything, the weak link at the beginning of the weekend will be me. I’ll be working hard to make sure that we get the car up to the front.”
Running up front is familiar territory for Robichon. Beyond his outstanding performance in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA round at Road America, he’s also currently leading the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Platinum Cup standings, for race cars built in either 2017 or 2018. Robichon, a native of Canada’s capital, Ottawa, has won nine of the season’s first 10 races.
That season wraps up with a pair of races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Aug. 25-26, which will be Robichon’s fourth consecutive weekend of racing. Last weekend, he swept both GT3 Cup Challenge Canada races at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
In fact, Robichon hasn’t lost a GT3 Cup Challenge race since June, when he finished second at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve to his teammate, Roman De Angelis, who also drives in GT3 Cup Challenge USA in the No. 1 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche.
“It’s obviously been a really good year,” Robichon said. “For me, I think a lot of it has been in the confidence.”
He attributes his increased confidence to lessons he learned last October when he participated in the Porsche Young Driver Academy at Barber Motorsports Park.
“I think what that did was that it allowed me to almost let loose a little bit more and really just believe in myself and push that extra little bit harder,” he said. “We had the opportunity to learn a lot at that Young Driver Academy, which actually taught me a lot of nuances about the car that I had never learned before.”
Those lessons clearly seem to have paid off, judging from his performance in both Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars he’s been driving this season. He’s looking forward to applying them again through the remainder of this season in both the U.S. and Canada, and we’ll see where it goes from there.
“Right now, I legitimately have no idea what I’ll be doing next year,” he said. “I really hope to be back in a Porsche in one way or another. I have a really great relationship with the brand, and just the way they go about everything for me is really wonderful. So if there’s an opportunity to run in a Porsche somewhere else or in a different series, that would be my goal.”
In addition to the live streaming of this weekend’s races on IMSA.tv, tape delayed coverage of June’s doubleheader at Watkins Glen International will be televised beginning Saturday through the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Check local listings for the broadcast time and channel in your area.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA races as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Michelin GT Challenge this weekend.