BOWMANVILLE, ON – Sunday’s tumultuous first race for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin shook up the usually fast suspects as an early on-track incident brought out a full course caution and added some new faces on the podium in both Platinum and Gold. Continuing that tradition for today’s second round of the weekend double-header, mother nature threw a curve ball at the sleek 911 Porsche machines this morning as a rainstorm quickly blew through and soaked the 3.957-kilometer, 10-turn circuit. Although the brief shower cleared quickly, today’s 45-minute feature race began under sunny skies and very wet track conditions.
Pro Driver Kyle Marcelli made a guest appearance in his Pfaff/Fiorano entry and led the field from the green flag all the way to the checkered for Round Seven on the series schedule. His unclassified status makes for a very impressive performance, however, no points or official standing will be accumulated for his finish. It was his expertise that took the field of GT3 Cup cars to a safe and steady start.
“I have to say that these Michelin slicks are pretty good in wet conditions,” he laughed. “It was a bit tricky at the beginning and its always even more difficult when you are leading the start of a race, especially on slick tires. You really don’t know what the conditions are like so you have to start slow and build speed gradually. So I know these guys hung on to me a little bit at the beginning until I felt confident enough to push.”
Current points leader Etienne Borgeat of GT Racing was just one of those “guys” as he followed Marcelli from pole position at the green flag, all the way to the first step on the Platinum Podium. Borgeat was clearly focused on improving his 14th place overall finish from yesterday to regain some championship ground.
“Yesterday was a hectic race,” said the Montréal resident. “But at least we had the chance to score a fast lap time to put me on the Pole for today. At the beginning of the race the track was still wet so I wasn’t sure what our pace would be. Kyle [Marcelli] was being really really safe and I was following him to find the spots that were dry and wet. So I was able to just fly out and run by myself for the majority of the race. It’s traffic from mid-race to the end that was a bit more complicated running into lapped cars. But I was really happy with where we ended up this weekend.”
And hard on his heels, also in an attempt to make up for an on-track incident yesterday, SpeedMerchants driver JF Laberge started from the seventh place position on the grid and charged hard to make up for yesterday’s lost time to finish in second just behind Borgeat.
“We started in seventh today and ended up third overall and second in Platinum so not too bad today,” he quipped, shaking his head. “The car was pretty good, but it was set up for rain. So we could have been faster, but everyone did a great job and the track was crazy fast today.”
6th Gear Racing rounded out the top three in Platinum class with another amazing performance by the team and Perry Bortolotti, who was surprised to once again take a podium finish on the historic and wickedly fast circuit.
“I am just elated,” he grinned. “I didn’t really have a lot of high hopes coming into this track after my last showing here and things just seemed to come together. Yesterday I got lucky and today my starting position was everything. So I got away to a good start and maintained. But my partner Marco [Cirone] had a big hit yesterday and the guys worked all night to put the car back together and he was running 22’s. So kudos to him and it was a great weekend.”
Due to big contact yesterday between the MGM Gold Cup entry of Peter Collins and Marco Cirone of 6th Gear that caused a long full-course caution and extensive damage to Cirone’s No. 88 car, the team worked diligently through the night to not only get the car on the grid for the start of the race, but produce a car capable of winning today.
“The job that my guys did was amazing,” said an awestruck Cirone who hails from nearby Toronto. “I showed up this morning and a couple guys were asleep on the floor. They had worked all night and didn’t eat so it’s just remarkable what they did. And that’s why I love those guys. Not only are they my teammates and crew but they are like my family. They take care of me when I am out there and they did so much that I was just happy that I could perform well today. That car ran as good now as it did in qualifying. Just an amazing job.”
Cirone was able to finish in fifth place overall in today’s event due to the tireless efforts of his team.
Newcomer Chris Green of SportsCarBoutique (SCB) brought new meaning to the term “Gold” this weekend as his amazing lap times have placed his Gold Class entry in the thick of Platinum competition and earned him two wins this weekend in class. He was able to hold off Bruce Gregory and his SpeedMerchants entry to take the top step on the Podium and finish in sixth place overall.
“It was a repeat of yesterday,” he joked. “I just tried to keep out of trouble on the first lap. A couple of the guys got throttle-happy on the start and I just tried to avoid that and kept the car in control. Unfortunately I had a little incident near the middle of the race and was cut off by a Silver entry and managed to flat-spot all four tires. So 25 minutes on squares was a bit interesting. But it makes me understand how the Flintstones felt 4,000 years ago.”
Gregory made a huge jump up the field from his starting position of 14th to keep Green honest on their way to the checkered flag, but knew he didn’t have enough to take the newcomer at the finish.
“It was a great race and it was all at the start,” he said. “It was a damp track but we had three laps to scout it out and it seemed pretty dry so I just went all out on the start. I gapped the guys behind me by three or four car lengths but I knew I wasn’t going to catch Chris [Green]. So I basically just worked on hitting my marks as I was all by myself out there today, which is pretty hard to do with the traffic we were running in.”
Peter Collins, who was involved in the incident with Cirone yesterday was also grateful to the efforts of his MGM team to repair his Gold Class Porsche to ensure that he was not only back on the grid for another exciting round of Canadian GT3 Cup action, but he finished in third place on the class podium.
“The team did a great job putting my car back together after yesterday’s incident,” said Collins. “MGM stayed up late and made sure I had a car that was ready to race. When Marco [Cirone] and I got together yesterday I thought my weekend was done, and to be on the grid this morning is a testament to the team and I couldn’t be more thankful. The racing today was great. The first two or three laps were a bit wet and I wasn’t that aggressive due to wrecking yesterday and Bruce Gregory was able to pull a little gap on me. But overall it was a great race and I just couldn’t be happier with my team and my finish!”
The two damaged cars were able to achieve their miraculous recovery due not only to the dedicated effort by both crews, but also with the help of on-site parts and customer service provided by Porsche Motorsport North America.
The ever colorful Bob “Doc” Seitz brought his No. 58 SpeedMerchants entry home ahead of season long rivals Gabor Foti of SCB and Leho Poldmae of TPC Racing. Poldmae contended both races this weekend while mildly ill, making his performance all the more impressive.
Seitz, proudly sporting the Gulf Colors on his Silver 2005 996 Porsche GT3 Cup car parked at the podium for an amazing 12th consecutive class victory with his ever-present sidekick Elmo riding on the dash for luck.
“Again, the car was perfect right off the get-go,” he said. “It was a bit slick out there in the first few laps so we were tip-toeing around a bit but I just wanted to keep the Gold guys in sight. And I knew if I could do that I could put a gap on the Silver cars. And then I just drove the wheels off of it for the remainder of the race. The track came in beautifully and the tires were perfect and the car was set up absolutely right for these conditions. So that’s a 12-pack!”
The next round of competition for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin is the Championship finale at Calabogie Motorsports Park on August 9-11 in Calabogie, Ont., Canada. For all the latest news, results and championship statistics, visit www.imsachallenge.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
From Grand Solutions LLC