Hargrove Earns Fourth Win Of Season On Wild Streets Of Toronto

In a race in which it seemed no one wanted to keep the lead, Scott Hargrove was the last man standing and expanded his championship lead in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin. Hargrove, 19, from Surrey, British Columbia, won Round 5 of the season Saturday, July 19 in the No. 69 OpenRoad Racing Porsche GT3 Cup car on the Streets of Toronto. The victory was his fourth in five starts this season for Vancouver-based OpenRoad Racing.  

“Four wins in five rounds now, so it’s been a phenomenal year, and we are going to try and keep this going,” championship leader Hargrove said.  Hargrove leads Chris Green, 98-84, in the championship after five rounds. 

Marco Cirone, from Toronto, finished second Saturday on his hometown track in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche, 6.702 seconds behind Hargrove. It was the first overall podium finish of the season for Cirone, who expanded his Platinum Masters (drivers 45 and older) championship lead.

“I didn’t have a very good qualifying,” stated Cirone. “We were in sixth place when the race started, and it seemed like the five guys in front of me were just battling, and I just managed to stay behind them and be as cautious as I could because I saw everyone was being aggressive up there. But I got luck and managed to get by a couple of guys, and then it kind of spaced out a little bit, and I was able to keep up a pretty good pace. I was really lucky to get that second place because a couple of my other competitors had some misfortunes out there. Sorry for them, but I will take the second place, and I am very happy. My thanks to Mark Motors for giving me the opportunity to be here, and Porsche and IMSA. And the tires … the Michelins were wonderful, and I hardly noticed any change.” (What does it mean to you to be on the overall podium at your home race?): “It means a lot! I am really, really happy to have done well in front of my family and friends, and I love Toronto and have lived here most of my life. It was a great pleasure to be up here with Scott (Hargrove) and Santiago (Creel).”  

Santiago Creel, from Mexico City, placed third overall in the No. 60 Wright Motorsports entry. It was the first Canadian series start for Creel, a regular in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.

 “This is my first time here in Canada racing, and my first time with Michelin tires and my first time on a street circuit,” added Creel. “We did well in the race and being behind and trying not to commit errors, which was the key factor.” (How tough was it to adjust to a circuit you have never been to, and a street circuit for the first time?): “Well, my first practice I was in 14th place, but then I saw ways I could go faster. And by the race I was in third.”

Platinum Masters competitor Perry Bortolotti, from Kanata, Ontario, placed fourth overall in the No. 84 Mark Motors Racing Porsche.

“It was a lot of fun,” commented Bortolotti. “Unfortunately Turn 1 was a little hectic with Carlos (de Quesada). I don’t know what happened there, but we ended up touching wheels and I shot him into the wall, which is unfortunate for him. It knocked my toe out, so I struggled the rest of the race. I just tried to stay in touch with the top runners there, but it was a struggle. Good day overall, though. I can’t complain. The car is in one piece, so it was a good day. I’ve raced all over the world, and this is one crazy racecourse, I’ll tell you that. It’s really bizarre. There is very little room for error. It’s a big balls track. There’s no doubt about it.”

Jerimy Daniel, from Candiac, Quebec, placed fifth overall in the No. 75 TRC Porsche that competes in the Gold Cup (2010-2013 car models) championship. The result tied the best overall finish this season by a Gold Cup driver, as Daniel also was fifth in Round 2 in May at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.

 “I had a little advantage maybe due to my experience here with Star Mazda, but I know some of the other drivers have done this, too, so it’s fairly equal,” Daniel added. “It was a really good track, even with the rain. We had really good strategy, and I only ran two laps in qualifying that gave me the second position, and I had really good tires for the race. Even at the last lap, my tires were really good. So I had fun, and that’s the important thing!”  

Daniel and Tim Sanderson are tied, 84-84, atop the Gold Cup standings after this event.

“Great day, but we didn’t quite have enough for Jerimy (Daniel) today,” Sanderson stated. “He drove a great race and got me at the start. Our car ran really well. The Racing for Joanne’s House GT3 Cup car was awesome. The guys had it prepared beautifully. Tomorrow’s another day, and we will get back out there and try it again. The track is a little slippery. He (Jerimy Daniel) ran four laps in qualifying and I ran 15, so I think he had a bit more rubber than I did at the end. But we will see what happens tomorrow when we are all on fresh tires.”

Hargrove and championship rivals Green and Spencer Pigot each led and then lost the front spot during the 36-minute race, shorted from the scheduled 45 minutes due to track repair after a previous race in another series. Green led the first five laps in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche after earning his second pole position of the season earlier this morning. But Green slid sideways into the wall in Turn 8 on the sixth lap, shortly after light rain started to fall around the 11-turn, 1.75-mile temporary street circuit. Hargrove zoomed past into the top spot while Green dropped in the running order. 

Montreal resident Green continued but finished 12th, his first result outside of the top two this season. Hargrove then led the next seven laps before spinning in Turn 8, handing the lead to Pigot. Hargrove recovered quickly from the spin to take second.

  Championship leader Hargrove trimmed Pigot’s lead from 1.714 seconds to .833 of a second during the next six minutes. Then Pigot, from Orlando, Florida, suffered a tough break as he sought his first victory of the season in the No. 21 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.

  A belt broke on Pigot’s car, causing his engine to overheat and fluid to trail from his car. Pigot slowed, handing the lead back to Hargrove, also his rival in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires junior open-wheel series.

  Pigot was forced to the pits, out of the race in 15th place.

  Hargrove admitted he nearly spun in the fluid from Pigot’s car, but he kept control over the final five laps to earn the wild victory.

 Daniel earned his third Gold Cup victory of the season after starting from the class pole. But the win didn’t come without strong resistance from Sanderson.

  Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, pulled to within .768 of a second of Daniel with 15 minutes left in the race in the No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports Porsche. But Daniel gradually eased away over the closing laps, leading Sanderson to the finish by 2.720 seconds.

Ilker Starck, from Toronto, finished third in Gold in the No. 48 SCB Racing/Downtown Porsche entry.

 “It was a great race being at the home track in Toronto,” added Starck. “It was fantastic being at home and at least placing third. Of course, we tried to make it further up the podium, but we had a good car and everything worked pretty well for us after having a rough start Friday in practice.”

  Chuck Harris, from Tampa, Florida, continued his perfect record in Silver Cup (2005 ½-2009 model cars) with his fifth victory in the class this season in the No. 50 Alegra Motorsports 911 GT3 Cup car.

 “It was awesome! It was my first time on a street course, and it was really, really fun,” stated an elated Harris. “The car ran great, and the tires held up really well. I was very glad the rain held off. It kept trying to rain, but we got lucky. It got a bit slippery in places but not enough to slow us down too much. It was a good day. I am very happy to have the car in here without meeting the walls up close!”

Teammate Keith Bass, also from Tampa, Florida, was second in the No. 49 Alegra Motorsports entry.

“I love the track; I love Toronto. It’s a beautiful track, and it’s a lot of fun. Once you get used to the track, it’s really a ton of fun,” Bass concluded.  

Round 6 is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. (ET) Sunday, July 20 on the Streets of Toronto.   Live commentary for both races will be provided on Twitter at @IMSALive.


Adam Sinclair