The ultimate finish line is in sight for Scott Hargrove after he earned his fifth victory of the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin season Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, only needs to start the season-ending Round 10 at 4:15 p.m. (ET) Sunday to clinch the Platinum Cup (2014 car models) season championship in the No. 69 OpenRoad Racing Porsche.
“It was kind of a perfect race from a driver’s standpoint,” Hargrove said. “I started on pole, got the lead on the start and was able to pull a gap early on and then just kind of maintain the gap for the rest of the race. Phenomenal result for these guys. I am thrilled to be here and can’t wait to finish off the championship tomorrow.”
Hargrove led the 45-minute race from the pole to the checkered flag, as he has finished first or second in all nine events this season. The race ended under caution due to contact between Platinum Masters competitors Perry Bortolotti and Carlos de Quesada with six minutes remaining in the race.
Spencer Pigot, from Orlando, Florida, finished third in the No. 21 Alegra Motorsportsentry. Marco Cirone, from Toronto, placed fourth and was the first Platinum Masters (drivers age 45 and older) finisher in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. De Quesada, from Odessa, Florida, continued after the late incident with Bortolotti to round out the top five in the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Hargrove eased away from Pigot and Green early in the race, maintaining a gap of around one second. Pigot passed Green for second in Turn 1 on the first lap, and Green needed to regain the spot to keep his title hopes alive.
Green pulled off that crucial pass with 25 minutes remaining on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile (3.957 km) circuit. But he never got a chance to threaten Hargrove, who led by 1.899 seconds at the halfway point of the race
Hargrove extended that lead to 3.202 seconds with 17 minutes remaining. Green sliced the gap to 2.350 seconds with 13 minutes left but never approached Hargrove until the field was bunched under the race-ending caution period with six minutes remaining.
“Those guys were definitely quick, and I had to push for the whole race,” Hargrove said. “The OpenRoad Porsche was so good. I was able to run consistent lap times all race long, matching my best lap of the race even at the end.”
|Platinum Masters podium finishers (from left): Carlos de Quesada, Marco Cirone, Andre Belzile
Cirone earned his fifth Platinum Masters win of the season and only needs to start the race Sunday to clinch his second consecutive championship in the class for drivers age 45 and older.
He dominated the class during the race, leading by a margin of 18 seconds over teammate Bortolotti with nine minutes remaining. Cirone leads de Quesada, 168-158, in the Platinum Masters standings.
“The race was, I guess, very lonely,” Cirone said. “I had no one around me for 45 minutes. So I just concentrated on my line and tried to get good lap times.
“I couldn’t catch those three fast cars, kids. Although I tried the first couple of laps and I thought: ‘If I continue to do this, I am going to kill myself! So I better back off and save the car for tomorrow.’ But we got the win, and that’s what’s important for the championship.”
The race for second place in the class was fraught with drama between Bortolotti and de Quesada.
De Quesada pulled to within two-tenths of a second of Bortolotti 10 minutes into the race, and the two drivers sailed around the track in lockstep for nearly the next half-hour.
With six minutes remaining, the pair approached the Gold Cup car of Martin Harvey. Bortolotti and de Quesada made contact between Turns 3 and 4 while trying to pass Harvey, with Bortolotti and de Quesada hitting the tire wall in Turn 4.
De Quesada was able to continue under caution in his Porsche to finish second in the class, but Bortolotti’s race ended with a heavily damaged No. 84 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. Bortolotti, from Kanata, Ontario, was unhurt.
Race officials assessed de Quesada with a 44-second penalty after the race for incident responsibility with Gold Cup competitor Jerimy Daniel earlier in the race, but de Quesada still kept second place in Platinum Masters despite the time penalty.
Bortolotti’s exit allowed Andre Belzile to inherit third in the No. 93 GT Racing entry. Belzile, from Drummondville, Quebec, earned his third podium finish of the season.
|Gold Cup podium finishers (from left): Jerimy Daniel, Tim Sanderson, Ilker Starck
Tim Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, edged closer to his first Gold Cup championship with his third victory of the season in the No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports Porsche.
He will clinch the title by finishing second or better Sunday in the class for 2010-13 model cars. Sanderson leads Daniel by four points entering the finale.
Consistency has been the blueprint for success this season for Sanderson, and that smooth, steady approach played a key role in his victory Saturday.
Daniel, from Candiac, Quebec, led Sanderson by 2.2 seconds eight minutes into the race and appeared to have the speed in his No. 75 TRC car to earn victory. But he slid and spun out of the lead in Turn 5 with 30 minutes remaining after contact from de Quesada, handing the top spot to Sanderson.
But Daniel didn’t quit. He charged through the field, braking late and smoking his Michelin tires, in a furious effort to catch Sanderson.
Daniel pulled to within .489 seconds of Sanderson with 15 minutes remaining in the race, and the duel for the title and race victory was on. Sanderson led Daniel by just two points entering this event.
But Sanderson maintained that gap for the next nine minutes, until the race-ending caution.
“We just tried to drive our race,” Sanderson said. “Unfortunately, Jerimy had a little spin, but you know we had a spin in Trois-Rivières. The racing gods were with us today, I guess! He (Daniel) was pushing me, Ilker (Starck) was pushing me, and that’s what it’s all about, the good competition.”
|Silver Cup podium finishers (from left): Keith Bass, Chuck Harris
Chuck Harris cruised to his eighth victory in nine rounds this season in Silver Cup (2005½-2009 car models) in the No. 50 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Harris, from Tampa, Florida, needs to start the race Sunday to clinch his first championship. He leads the Silver Cup championship standings by 14 points.
“It was a little slippery out there, but it was clean all the way to the end,” Harris said. “I had a good time out there. The guys that were going for it were going for it hard to protect their position in the points. It was a good race.”
Keith Bass, from Tampa, Florida, finished second in the No. 49 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Round 10 of the 2014 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin – the final race of the season – is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. (ET) Sunday. The race is 45 minutes.
For more information on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, visit www.imsa.com and @IMSA on Twitter with the hashtag #GT3CAN. Live commentary for both races will be provided on Twitter at @IMSALive.
ROUND 9 POST-RACE QUOTES:
SCOTT HARGROVE (No. 69 OpenRoad Racing, winner): “It was kind of a perfect race from a driver’s standpoint. I started on pole, got the lead on the start and was able to pull a gap early on and then just kind of maintain the gap for the rest of the race. Those guys were definitely quick, and I had to push for the whole race. The OpenRoad Porsche was so good. I was able to run consistent lap times all race long, matching my best lap of the race even at the end. Phenomenal result for these guys. I am thrilled to be here and can’t wait to finish off the championship tomorrow.”
CHRIS GREEN (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports, second): “I’ll leave that start to the officials. They are trying to be consistent, so we’ll see how consistent they are with that one. At the end of the day, though, I got behind Spencer (Pigot) and followed him. He was fast for a while, so I figured I wouldn’t fight it out with him. I knew I had a better car. Spencer made a couple of mistakes, and it gave me the opportunity to get by him. I started creeping up on Scott (Hargrove). Traffic didn’t play out in my favor, and once again Scott wins under yellow. Another second place. What can I tell you? One more tomorrow.”
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Alegra Motorsports, third): “It started off well. We got second at the start but started falling off struggling with grip in the car and gradually dropped back. But we’re on the podium again, so a big thanks to Alegra and everyone that helped prepare the car.”
MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, first, Platinum Masters): “The race was, I guess, very lonely. I had no one around me for 45 minutes. I had a terrible start and then I got by Jerimy (Daniel). Etienne (Borgeat) spun in front of me. So, yeah, I was just all by myself. So I just concentrated on my line and tried to get good lap times. It was like a practice run out there because there was nobody to race against. I couldn’t catch those three fast cars, kids. Although I tried the first couple of laps and I thought: ‘If I continue to do this, I am going to kill myself! So I better back off and save the car for tomorrow.’ But we got the win, and that’s what’s important for the championship.”
CARLOS DE QUESADA (No. 22 Alegra Motorsports, second, Platinum Masters): “It was a crazy race. We had (Jerimy) Daniel in front of us. He kept locking it up everywhere. Perry got by him, and I was able to get by him. He locked up really bad in Turn 5A and got sideways there. When we came out of there, I tried just basically catching up with Perry and caught up with him. I came around Turn 3 and we had caught up to the McDonald’s car (Martin Harvey). We got down there, and Perry tried making the pass on him and the guy moved over. Unfortunately he (Bortolotti) got the worst end of that. My car was just hobbling along at that point. Not the way I like to finish a race.”
ANDRE BELZILE (No. 93 GT Racing, third, Platinum Masters): “I had such a bad start, so I had to recover from there so I could catch up to Shaun. That was it. Ilker (Starck) was in front of me, and he was fast today. So he had a great race. I am on the podium, obviously, because I saw Perry (Bortolotti) crashing. I hope he’s OK. He would have deserved to be here on the podium. The car looked bad, but I saw him standing, so I hope he’s OK.”
TIM SANDERSON (No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports, first, Gold Cup): “We’ve enjoyed this track for many years. I’ve been coming here since I was a very young boy. We’ve done a lot of laps here. We just tried to drive our race. Unfortunately, Jerimy (Daniel) had a little spin, but you know we had a spin in Trois-Rivières. The racing gods were with us today, I guess! He (Daniel) was pushing me, Ilker (Starck) was pushing me, and that’s what it’s all about, the good competition.”
ILKER STARCK (No. 48 SCB Racing/Downtown Porsche, third, Gold Cup): “The race was great. The guys did a good job getting the car in a good position for us to at least finish on the podium. I guess with the weather change, it was cooler this morning, and we thought we’d be really competitive and maybe win this race. But either way, the car started falling off toward the end, so I made the best out of it and brought the car home in third place. Thanks again to my team and Downtown Porsche.”
CHUCK HARRIS (No. 50 Alegra Motorsports, first, Silver Cup): “It was a little slippery out there, but it was clean all the way to the end. I had a good time out there. The guys that were going for it were going for it hard to protect their position in the points. It was a good race.”
KEITH BASS (No. 49 Alegra Motorsports, second, Silver Cup): “It started well, and we kept up quite a bit, but just didn’t have the pace as it went on and on. So I came in second and had a great day.”
Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin
The IMSA Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in one of the world’s most successful and iconic race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The series is one of Porsche’s global single-make Cup Challenge 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. The 10-round series races in 2014 at four classic Canadian road and street courses, providing thrills for drivers and fans.
The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) is the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the road-racing series resulting from the merger of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. 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 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 United SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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