The first trip to Canada for the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands provided the one-make series its first winner from the United States in its short history. Texan Trenton Estep (San Antonio, Texas) drove the No. 6 MDK Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car from pole position to victory lane on a temporary circuit here on the streets of Toronto, Ontario. Efrin Castro (Dominican Republic) earned his fourth Pro-Am class victory for Kelly-Moss while Bill Smith (Dallas, Texas) secured the win for Topp Racing in the Am category despite a late race incident. The second race of the weekend, round 10 of the 16, will take place on Sunday, July 17 at 1:30 p.m. ET/ 10:30 p.m.
Trenton Estep has made himself a regular at the front of the Pro class all season but was yet to reach victory lane. He has proven particularly skillful on the two street circuits on the 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup North America schedule earning the pole position for today’s 40-minute feature in Toronto and, earlier in the year, a second-place starting position in the MDK Motorsports-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car at Long Beach. It took the premier one-make race series first foray outside of the United States before an American could break the stranglehold championship points leader and today’s runner-up Kay van Berlo (Netherlands now living in Miami) has had on the series this season. Van Berlo has earned six victories and two additional podium finishes in the first nine races in the No. 3 Kelly-Moss Porsche. The only other driver to win this season is Canada’s own Parker Thompson. The driver of the No. 9 JDX Racing Porsche has two victories – both coming at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Thompson made a first lap push to jump from third-place on the grid into the lead. However, having passed van Berlo before turn one, Thompson was not able to complete the pass on Estep, going long into the run-off area. He would fall to the back of the field but, despite the 1.786-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit being notoriously difficult to pass on, charged back to finish just outside the top-five in sixth place.
Estep joins only three other drivers who have ever won in the history of the all-Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race series. In addition to van Berlo and Thompson, 2021 Pro champion Seb Priaulx (Great Britain), who is now racing in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in a Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR-19, have won in the championship that debuted in 2021. Today was the 25th Porsche Carrera Cup North America race run.
Estep will lead the field to the green flag on Sunday with van Berlo close beside. Thompson and Dickinson will make-up row two. Castro and Smith are their respective class pole position winners. The grid for race two is based on the fastest race one lap or the second-fastest qualifying lap from Saturday morning’s 30-minute timed session.
Echoes of 2021 are bouncing off the walls of downtown Toronto as Efrin Castro has resumed the hunt for the top-slot currently held by Alan Metni (Austin, Texas). The Kelly-Moss teammates (Castro in the No. 65, Metni in the No. 99 prepared by the Madison, Wisconsin-based race shop) took the inaugural season’s championship down to the last race of the season where Castro was crowned champion. Castro started from pole position in the class and fought-off Toronto-resident Marco Cirone in the Mark Motors Racing No. 84 to take his fourth class victory of the year. Metni, ever the competitor, took the fight head-on earning a third-place finish in the 40-minute feature.
Bill Smith (Dallas, Texas) and John Goetz (Weston, Connecticut) were primed to battle it out in the category for drivers over 57-years-old. With points leader Mark Kvamme (Columbus, Ohio) absent from the weekend, it gave the two drivers in second (Goetz) and third-place (Smith) the opportunity to close the 33 and 34-point margin, respectively, on the Ohioan. When Goetz brought the No. 57 into pit lane for attention by the Wright Motorsports crew and never returned, that left Smith the clear path to the winner’s circle. However, that nearly unraveled as the No. 42 Topp Racing Porsche went wide entering the turn immediately before the pit entry. He was able to extricate the orange 500 HP Porsche from the tire barrier and cross the finish line in pit lane to take his second, consecutive race win in the class.
T is for Texas. T is for Toronto.
Three drivers from Texas earned top-five finishes in Canada. Along with Estep who is a native of San Antonio, Kelly-Moss driver Riley Dickinson (New Braunfels, Texas) finished in third-place after a race-long battle with his teammate, van Berlo. Travis Wiley kept the Texas majority in the top-five as the Austin-resident earned fourth-place in the No. 77 prepared by Topp Racing. Varun Choksey (Atlanta, Georgia) overcame serious pressure from Wiley to give Wright Motorsports a fifth-place result in the No. 13.
In the Pro-Am class, Texan Metni finished in second-place while the Am category was won by the Lone Star State’s Bill Smith of Texas.
To the point.
While van Berlo was not able to pull full points from the event, he did finish in second-place and earned the fastest race lap adding 21 points. He currently has 220 points. 58 more than Thompson’s 162. Dickinson’s third-place finish gave him 17 more points but with Estep earning 25 for the win and two points for each pole position (four points total), the driver of the MDK machine moved around the Kelly-Moss driver in the overall standings placing Estep in third-place and Dickinson in fourth-place. Despite not entering Toronto, Leh Keen (Atlanta, Georgia) retains fifth-place for Pro class drivers. In Pro-Am, Metni retains the lead after nine rounds with 170 to Castro’s 149. While not being in the race, Kvamme held his class point lead with 172. However, Smith’s win brought him to 163 total markers, Goetz’s second-place, to 159. Following tomorrow’s race, the two should surpass the regular driver of the No. 43 MDK car making it one of the tightest battles in the field.
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