However, after his performance in the 2019 season opener, Kingsley may very well get comfortable there, especially on the top step. Starting from the pole position, Kingsley in the No. 16 Policaro Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car led flag-to-flag to claim his first career victory in GT3 Cup Challenge Canada competition.
The Ontario native is pulling double duty this year between GT3 Cup Challenge Canada and its USA counterpart – Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama – but had previously only scored a best finish of fourth in both series. Saturday’s breakthrough for his first pole in qualifying and first win in the 45-minute race proved Kingsley will be one to watch in both Platinum classes throughout the season.
His first career victory didn’t come without pressure though. For the final 10 minutes of the race, Kingsley fended off the looming No. 3 SCB Racing Porsche of Parker Thompson, who ultimately finished runner-up by 1.104 seconds. If there was anyone who could take the lead from Kingsley, it would be his GT3 Cup Challenge USA teammate Thompson, who owns a victory already this year in GT3 Cup Challenge USA.
“We got a good start today, got the big jump and I think we were about 2 ½ seconds clear, then with some lapped traffic, he started to close the gap,” said Kingsley. “Towards the end, he was really putting the pressure down. We’re teammates down in The States so we know each other a little bit, but he stayed clean and so did I and ultimately came away with a win.
“It was a lot of pressure, mentally and physically, I’m exhausted right now, so I’m looking forward to celebrating this one with the guys and the Policaro Motorsport/Porsche Centre Oakville/Liqui Moly car was unbelievable today and I hope for the same tomorrow.”
Kingsley will start first in Race 2 on Sunday at 11:55 a.m. ET. Timing and scoring for the race will be available on http://www.scoring.imsa.com.
Finishing third and capturing the first Platinum Masters win of the season was Marco Cirone in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. As Kingsley and Thompson battled, Cirone was able to close in, but not quite enough to join in. Cirone crossed the stripe 1.934 seconds behind Kingsley.
“I was trying my hardest, I was doing everything I possibly could to not make a mistake,” said Cirone. “But the kids in front of me, Parker Thompson and Jeff Kingsley, they were just driving practically mistake-free. I got on the radio with my crew chief and we were running very similar times, so I tried to stay as close as I could but unfortunately, they didn’t make any mistakes and I couldn’t make up any ground. They drove brilliantly and I’m just glad to make it to third place.
“It’s a fantastic feeling, especially for me because I missed last year. I just did a couple races in Gold, so I’m really happy. Thank you to Mark Motors and Lisa Mrak, Michael Mrak for bringing me back for the whole season. I’m really proud to bring home a third place and a win in Masters today.”
Cirone’s teammate, Roman De Angelis in the No. 79 Porsche, scored the Yokohama Tire Hard Charger Award for gaining the most positions in the race. Starting 14th on the grid, De Angelis moved up 10 spots to fourth, salvaging a good points day for the team.
“It took me a really long time to get by some guys as I didn’t want to do anything to my car to lose some points, but I finally got by,” said De Angelis, who is also competing in GT3 Cup Challenge USA with three wins in four rounds. “We had pretty incredible pace considering the car’s a bit damaged and the tires are gone. But yeah, I would’ve liked to have had a better qualifying so I could’ve challenged for the win because I think we had the car to do it, but tomorrow’s another day.”
In his debut at his home track, Sam Fellows – son of sports car legend Ron Fellows – won his first GT3 Cup Challenge Canada race in the Gold class in the No. 35 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche.