AVONDALE, La. (Feb. 24, 2015) – In 2014, Jesse Lazare was the new kid. He was the karting phenom from Canada with plenty of potential in his rookie season of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
Fast-forward one year, and Lazare still is that smiling, friendly teenager in the paddock. But there is one difference. He has raised his sights as high as possible in his second year in the series.
“I’m going for the championship,” Lazare said.
That confidence is backed by promising results from his rookie season in 2014 and a move in 2015 to the reigning Platinum Cup Team Champions, Kelly Moss Motorsports. Wisconsin-based Kelly Moss also guided Colin Thompson to the Platinum Cup Drivers Championship last season.
Lazare, 17, from the Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire, Quebec, also showed his title intent Tuesday, Feb. 24 by turning the top lap by a series driver in testing at NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans. His best time on the 2.74-mile circuit was 1 minute, 38.982 seconds in the No. 21 Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
Testing took place under a mixture of clouds and sunshine, with air temperatures in the high 40s.
“It’s a nice track with a lot of runoff,” Lazare said. “Honestly, after about the second session I had, I felt great. It took another session to get the car in. By the end of the first period we were on track, I was ready.”
Lazare came to series in 2014 after one season in the USF2000 championship in North America. Before that, he was an outstanding kart racer, winning a Canadian national championship.
He debuted in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama last March at Sebring with an outstanding fourth-place finish. But he scored no points and wasn’t running at the finish of the second race at Sebring.
The Sebring weekend was a microcosm of his up-and-down season. He was faced with the challenge of learning a new car and new tracks. Plus he was the youngest driver in the series at just 16.
Lazare’s valleys were deep last season, including five scoreless finishes. But his peaks were tall, including a spectacular, dominant first career victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – the mighty Mosport – on home soil.
“Last year at Mosport was the only track I had actually been to,” Lazare said. “Now I have been to most of the tracks, so I’m pretty confident that I’m going to do really well this year.”
The polite Lazare never will be accused of bravado. But his confidence is brimming with the move to Kelly Moss, one of the most accomplished teams in the 11-year history of the Porsche single-make series in the United States.
“It’s amazing,” Lazare said. “It’s nice. I come off, I say what’s wrong, and we work together, we fix it, and we move forward. It’s great to see a bunch of guys who have been doing it forever. I’m just going to take as much advantage of it as I can.
“I’m going to do my best. I think me and Kelly Moss could work really well together.”
Testing continues 9-10:30 a.m. and 1:15-2:45 p.m. (CT) Wednesday on the fast, flowing circuit at NOLA Motorsports Park. Alan Wilson designed the circuit. Wilson’s other classic American layouts include Miller Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park.
The 2015 season starts March 18-20 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, as part of the prestigious Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida race week.
Rounds 3 and 4 of the season will take place April 10-12 at NOLA Motorsports Park during the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana event weekend featuring the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Stay tuned to @IMSA on Twitter for live updates from testing Wednesday.
TUESDAY TEST QUOTES:
JESSE LAZARE (No. 21 Kelly Moss Motorsports, Platinum Cup): “It’s a nice track with a lot of runoff. Honestly, after about the second session I had, I felt great. It took another session to get the car in. By the end of the first period we were on track, I was ready.” (How tough is it to learn a new track that doesn’t have a lot of reference points?): “I came from go-karts, so this is kind of like a go-kart track. So I was used to it. It wasn’t hard for me. I had fun. I still learned a lot. It’s just a little bit tricky under braking due to some bumps, especially into Turn 1. But besides that, it was great.” (About adjusting to new surroundings at Kelly Moss): “It’s amazing. It’s nice. I come off, I say what’s wrong, and we work together, we fix it, and we move forward. It’s great to see a bunch of guys who have been doing it forever. I’m just going to take as much advantage of it as I can.” (About goals for 2015): “I’m going for the championship. Last year at Mosport was the only track I had actually been to. Now I have been to most of the tracks, so I’m pretty confident that I’m going to do really well this year. I’m going to do my best. I want to be safe. I think me and Kelly Moss could work really well together.”
KASEY KUHLMAN (No. 15 Wright Motorsports, Platinum Masters): (What do you learn about new circuit in unseasonably cold conditions like today?): “The first thing I have to do is learn the track. You can pick up the subtleties and the nuances in the pavement, regardless of the temperature. That’s really valuable information. You can work on brake points. This series is all about late braking. The guy who’s best on the brakes probably is going to win. It’s never a bad day to work on that. A lot of valuable information for me today, having never been here. It will be good to sleep on it, process the video and the data and notes, and hopefully we’ll get a dry run tomorrow.”
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama enters its 11th season in 2015 as one of the largest of Porsche’s 20 single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. The series produces 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.
Racing is divided into two classes – Platinum Cup, featuring the 2014 and 2015 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based on the current 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 Platinum and Gold classes. 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.
he 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 // firstname.lastname@example.org