@GT3CAN • @IMSA • @hondaindy • TORONTO (June 14, 2015) – Daniel Morad produced a magisterial drive in a pouring rain Sunday on the streets of Toronto, earning his first career Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin victory in just his fourth start in the series.
Morad, from the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, Ontario, drove the No. 22 Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsports Platinum Cup entry to a 4.184-second victory in Round 4 of the championship. The race was shortened from 45 to 30 minutes due to the rain.
“I just paced myself in the beginning,” Morad said. “I got into a groove, and eventually I found the grip on the track and started to attack, take them one by one. That doesn’t happen every day, one of those runs where you can just walk away from the field in one lap. So it’s a very special moment for me.”
Round 3 winner Scott Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, finished second in the No. 25 OpenRoad Racing Porsche. Championship leader Chris Green, from Montreal, finished third in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
Platinum Masters points leader Marco Cirone, from Toronto, rebounded from a seventh-place finish in Round 3 on Saturday to finish fourth in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing entry. He also was the leading Platinum Masters finisher on the 11-turn, 1.755-mile circuit on the streets of Canada’s largest city.
Cirone’s teammate, 17-year-old Harry Steenbakkers of Ottawa, rounded out the top five finishers in the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche.
Martin Harvey, from Berthierville, Quebec, completed a weekend sweep in Gold Cup in the No. 08 Wingho Motorsports Porsche.
Hargrove started on the pole and built a six-second lead over Green just six minutes into the race. Morad started third but dropped to fourth behind Cirone on the first lap. But he started to get comfortable with driving his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car on the wet track and began to gain ground.
Morad passed Cirone for third 10 minutes into the race and began to gobble chunks of time from Hargrove and Green.
“I got by him at the start,” Cirone said of Morad. “I thought I had a great start, and then he was just all over my mirrors in a couple of laps, I said, ‘Oh my God, this guy’s unbelievable.'”
Morad then set his sights on Green and passed him with 17 minutes left in Turn 6 after the pair made side-by-side contact. Morad then started a breathtaking charge at Hargrove, running laps nearly two seconds quicker than the leader.
Six minutes later, Morad drove around Hargrove for the lead in Turn 8, with 11 minutes, 30 seconds left in the race. Morad then built a 2.5-second lead over the next 1½ laps, padding that lead to 6.071 seconds by the start of the final lap.
It was a stunning arrival for Morad, who won a junior open-wheel national championship in 2007 and a world karting championship in 2010. He also competed in global open-wheel series A1GP and GP3 through 2010. But his last open-wheel drive was in 2011, and he was out of racing from 2012-14 before reviving his career this season in sports cars through the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin.
“I’m very surprised,” Morad said. “This is my first time driving in the rain in a GT car. I had to learn a little bit. I was quick in open wheel (in the rain), and it looks like that transitioned into GT cars.”
The victory came after Morad was eliminated from Round 3 in an accident, placing 14th. The Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsports team worked quickly Saturday evening to repair a broken tie rod and prepare a fast, steady race car for Morad to drive Sunday.
Green expanded his points lead to 74-62 over Cirone with his third-place finish. Morad climbed to third with 59 points.
“We are still thinking about points, and this created a massive points gap this weekend,” Green said.
Two-time reigning Platinum Masters champion Cirone bounced back from finishing seventh overall and second in Platinum Masters on Saturday. He built his points lead over second place Tim Sanderson to 78-74 with his third Platinum Masters victory in four starts this season.
After his early duels with Morad, Cirone then settled into a rhythm to maintain steady speed to the finish on a drenched track.
“The track conditions down the straightaway were absolutely treacherous,” Cirone said. “You couldn’t see a bloody thing, and you saw that red fog light right at the last minute, so you had to adjust your braking and have a lot of courage.”
Sanderson, from nearby Pickering, Ontario, followed his Platinum Masters victory Saturday with a second-place finish in the No. 07 Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsports entry.
Keith Bass, from Tampa, Florida, finished third in the No. 28 SB Racing Porsche.
Series veteran Harvey became a serious contender for the Gold Cup championship after his second victory of the season. He followed the same blueprint for victory as Round 3 on Saturday, using his experience to avoid mishaps and stay steady to the finish.
This was Harvey’s first weekend sweep in Gold Cup since the inaugural two rounds of the series in May 2011 at Calabogie Motorsports Park. Harvey also won a race overall, in a Platinum Cup car, later that season at Circuit ICAR near Montreal.
Harvey tiptoed past Gold Cup rivals and series rookies Orey Fidani and Bruno Chapinotti on the first lap and eased away for the rest of the race, beating Fidani to the finish by a lap.
“It is my greatest weekend of all my life,” Harvey said. “Today was a crazy day. It rained all the time. We started in the back, and we couldn’t see. It was just fog, fog, fog. After the first curve, it was, ‘OK, go, go, go!’ and we passed my two competitors. After that, we just stayed on the road to the finish.”
Fidani, from nearby Etobicoke, Ontario, finished second in the No. 13 Pfaff Motorsports entry. Brazil native Chapinotti, from Toronto, placed third in the No. 12 C&C Motorsports Porsche.
Harvey sliced into Fidani’s point lead. Fidani is first with 74 points, Harvey second with 68.
“It should be good, good for the crowd to watch, too,” Fidani said of the percolating Gold Cup championship race. “It will be fun.”
Up Next: Rounds 5 and 6 are scheduled for July 4-5 at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Calabogie, Ontario. For live updates on all the action, follow @IMSALive on Twitter. For live timing, visit scoring.imsa.com.
For more information about Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #GT3CAN @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
ROUND 4 POST-RACE QUOTES:
DANIEL MORAD (No. 22 Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsports, winner): “I’m very surprised. This is my first time driving in the rain in a GT car. I had to learn a little bit. I was quick in open wheel (in the rain), and it looks like that transitioned into GT cars. It’s the same principle. You’ve got to look for grip. I just paced myself in the beginning. I got into a groove, and eventually I found the grip on the track and started to attack, take them one by one. That doesn’t happen every day, one of those runs where you can just walk away from the field in one lap. So it’s a very special moment for me.”
SCOTT HARGROVE (No. 25 OpenRoad Racing, second): “Hopefully the fans enjoyed that one. Starting up front, I had clear track right away, so I pulled out a little bit. But then Daniel was just hooked up out there. I tried to drive his lines, and he drove away from me. So I’m like, ‘OK, they’ve got that car hooked up,’ and I wasn’t quite able to hang on. But the OpenRoad Porsche has been awesome all weekend, and I’m just super-thrilled to be back in the series. And to get a win yesterday in Canada is awesome.”
CHRIS GREEN (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports, third): “Unfortunately we went the wrong way with the car setup today. I was just kind of focusing on keeping the car on the track today rather than focusing on position, so once Daniel (Morad) slammed by me in Turn 6, I just kind of focused on keeping my position and making sure that we bring home third. We are still thinking about points, and this created a massive points gap this weekend. Really happy for the Pfaff Auto team and the Pfaff Motorsports team, and the Castrol car was what it was today, but we will come back harder and stronger in Calabogie.”
MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, first Platinum Masters): “The track conditions down the straightaway were absolutely treacherous. You couldn’t see a bloody thing, and you saw that red fog light right at the last minute, so you had to adjust your braking and have a lot of courage. My hat’s off to Daniel (Morad) – what an incredible drive. I got by him at the start. I thought I had a great start, and then he was just all over my mirrors in a couple of laps, I said, ‘Oh my God, this guy’s unbelievable.’ So my hat’s off to the top three guys, and thank you to Mark Motors for allowing me to be here in Toronto. It’s a spectacular event, my favorite of the whole schedule, and thank you very much to my team.”
TIM SANDERSON (No. 07 Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsports, second Platinum Masters): “It was a little hairy, to say the least. It got very greasy. The concrete is very tough. You can’t get on the power at all. It’s interesting. I had it sideways on Lap 1 going down the back straight. Same thing on Lap 2. By that time, it was just try and survive, and I wasn’t going to catch those guys today. A little bit upsetting.”
KEITH BASS (No. 28 SB Racing, third Platinum Masters): “Today we were just playing strategy, trying to keep the car clean for the race in a couple of weeks. It was treacherous out there. Tough conditions and a tough race, but the tires held up great. The start, you couldn’t see a thing. I was toward the back of the field, and it was just spray everywhere.”
MARTIN HARVEY (No. 08 Wingho Motorsport, winner Gold Cup): “It is my greatest weekend of all my life. It is my great, great weekend. Today was a crazy day. It rained all the time. We started in the back, and we couldn’t see. It was just fog, fog, fog. After the first curve, it was, ‘OK, go, go, go!’ and we passed my two competitors. After that, we just stayed on the road to the finish. This track is tough because you have a lot of water, and the concrete is slippery a lot in the rain. It’s good. We don’t push too much because we have a lot of time in the race.” (About closing on Gold Cup points leader Orey Fidani): “We’re almost up to the leader in the championship. I wish in Calabogie we have the same pattern as here.”
OREY FIDANI (No. 13 Pfaff Motorsports, second Gold Cup): “I’ve never ran in the wet before other than the Friday second practice (this weekend). So I’m pretty happy with myself for my first race in the rain, but I’ve got a lot to learn. I was just trying to look for grip, trying to feel for grip, trying to follow the more experienced guys, their line, because that’s where I figured the grip was. I followed their line and found the grip, and I managed to keep it on track. Hopefully I get some more time in the rain to build up my confidence some more so I can get the car moving a little faster.” (About tightening championship race in Gold Cup): “It should be good, good for the crowd to watch, too. It will be fun.”
BRUNO CHAPINOTTI (No. 12 C&C Motorsports, third Gold Cup): “The track was fine. I like to race in the rain. Unfortunately I had the crash yesterday, and it looks like something happened with the car. I have a lot of vibration up front. It was hard to manage. I just tried to finish the job, finish the race, and that’s what we did today.”
Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin: The Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin enters its fifth season in 2015 ready to produce more intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in the world’s most produced and iconic race car, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned championship is one of 20 global Porsche single-make Cup Racing series and is the perfect platform for aspiring drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Racing is divided into two classes – Platinum Cup, featuring the 2014 and 2015 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based on the seventh, and current, generation of the street car; and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous iteration (model years 2010-2013) of the race car. A Masters Championship also is conducted in the Platinum class. Each class is awarded with its own podium at the end of every race and individual champion at the end of every season. Points are awarded by finish in class.
ABOUT IMSA: The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) was originally founded in 1969 with a long and rich history in sports car racing. Today, IMSA is the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the premier sports car racing series in North America. IMSA also sanctions the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA – a company within the NASCAR Holdings group – is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected TUDOR Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans
From: Paul Kelly/ Grand-Solutions
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