When Andre Belzile crashed heavily July 20 on the Streets of Toronto, the 2014 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin season reached a crossroads for GT Racing.
It was the second time this season one of the Quebec-based team’s cars had been heavily damaged during a race. And the calendar showed the team had less than three weeks to repair Belzile’s 911 GT3 Cup car.
The team spirit already was ebbing due to disappointing results through the first five rounds of the season. But instead of writing off Belzile’s car and the 2014 season, GT Racing decided to fight. To work. To enjoy racing.
Belzile’s No. 93 Platinum Cup (2014 model cars) Porsche was repaired in time for Rounds 7 and 8 of the championship this weekend during the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières(GP3R) at Trois-Rivières, Quebec, a vital round for the most successful Quebec-based team in the series. GT also fields the No. 2 entry for Platinum Cup standout Etienne Borgeat.
“It’s my job to pick everyone up and make sure we’re still there for the next event,” team owner Eric Cote said. “With Belzile crashing his car, the team spirit got stronger because that’s a challenge to get the car fixed in the little time we have. So it kind of bonded all the guys a little more.”
The unity at GT Racing, based in the Montreal suburb of Mirabel, should come as little surprise considering the team’s history.
Cote was an employee at GT since the team was formed in 2004. He bought the team from owner-driver Borgeat at the end of 2008, and Montreal resident Borgeat became his first customer. In the early days of the team, many of the mechanics were volunteers, forming a band of brothers in the pits with great zeal for the sport.
“The guys that are with me when I started this, they were all coming for free to the racetrack,” Cote said. “They all have their hearts into the team and into the racing. Nowadays, with the bigger events, they’re getting paid now. When it all started, it was all volunteers.
“I do this out of passion. I wake up in the morning and I want to go to work, and it’s because it’s what I like. Not a lot of people can say that in the world. So I’m very, very lucky to be able to do this and also have the support from the people around me to let me do this. I got married last Decenber, so my wife supports me, which is good. The guys around me, at the end of the day, we work together, so we’re also good buddies and we can take a day and go out and have fun. That does a lot for us surviving the years.”
GT Racing dabbled in GRAND-AM competition in 2006 and 2007 before racing with a two-car team in the Canadian Touring Car Championship from 2007-12 with Borgeat and other drivers. Borgeat won the CTCC title in 2011, but he always had aspirations to go endurance racing.
|Andre Belzile joined GT Racing for the 2014 season.
So Cote decided to buy a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car with the idea of fielding it in six-hour club events and other Canadian endurance races. But the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin mushroomed in 2012 after its first season in 2011, and growing grid sizes and increased competitiveness attracted Cote and Borgeat.
GT Racing competed in the CTCC and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin in 2012, with Borgeat finishing second to J-F Laberge in the GT3 Platinum Cup standings.
The team lured Laberge into its lineup for the 2013 season. Laberge finished fourth and Borgeat fifth in the championship last season, with Montreal resident Laberge winning two races.
GT Racing grew into a three-car lineup in 2014 with the addition of Belzile, from Drummondville, Quebec.
“That makes sense for GT Racing because of the transport costs, the transporter holds all three cars; it makes sense to go with three,” Cote said of his growing team. “We’re pretty much the only race team in Quebec that can do this all year round. It’s a little nice to say that.”
The first big crash of the season for the team came at the season opener in May atCanadian Tire Motorsport Park. Laberge’s car was damaged beyond repair. He was unhurt, but he hasn’t raced since in the series.
“That’s a bummer,” Cote said of Laberge. “He’s a good driver. We miss him.”
But Cote and the entire GT Racing team have never stopped working during the tough times. The late hours, bloody knuckles and sweaty brows are worth it when Cote and his crew see Borgeat and Belzile on track – especially this weekend at Trois-Rivières, the only event in the series in Quebec.
“All the Porsche teams right now, even if they’re English-speaking or French-speaking, we have a very good group right now in the Canada Cup,” Cote said. “All the guys of GT3 Cup Canada are working hard. Trois-Rivières is somewhere we need to shine.”
- NHRA announces eight-race schedule for 2024 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series - January 17, 2024
- Forgeline and Pratt Miller Motorsports Announce New Multi-Year Partnership - January 17, 2024
- TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein converts narrow pole to commanding win in the Season 10 opener of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship at the 2024 Hankook Mexico City E-Prix - January 16, 2024