Pfaff/Alegra Motorsports Lands Two on Top at CTMP
Eleven one-hundredths of a second separated first and second under the checkers at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park today. Madison Snow and Angel Benitez Jr., second and third in points entering the weekend, battled until the bitter end of the first Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix event resulting in a spectacular “picture perfect” photo finish.
On the final straightaway of the last lap, Snow made an over-under pass to get by Benitez just before the finish line. The 17-year-old displayed talents well beyond his years to claim his third title of the 2013 season and take the lead in series points standings.
Madison Snow and Angel Benitez Jr. at the checkers eleven one-hundredths of a second apart.
“I was pushing harder than I ever have before,” Snow said. “It was such a hard race. (Angel) Benitez is so fast but on the last lap, last corner, I just finally got him. He was going to block on the inside so I went really wide on that corner, just did an over-under and got him on the front straight.”
Snow led the grid for the first 11 of 33 laps before Benitez took over. Benitez held a solid lead for 16 laps of his own, but by the 27th time around the circuit Snow was putting the pressure back on the NGT Motorsport driver.
Only one tenth of a second separated the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars as they took the white flag for the final trip around the 2.459-mile circuit.
Top three finishers: Benitez (far left), Snow (middle), Sloan (right)
“We drove as hard as we could and sometimes you have to have a little bit of luck and this time it was on the side of Madison (Snow). So we’re just focusing on tomorrow and hoping to take the victory back,” Benitez said.
Despite taking the second step on the podium, Benitez proved he still had plenty of speed in the last quarter of the race, by turning the fastest lap of all competitors with a time of 1:22.489 on lap 18.
Meanwhile, the drama behind the leaders was no less intense. On Lap 23, eight tenths of a second separated Brett Sandberg and Sloan Urry, until the two were side-by-side in lap 29. Shortly after, Sandberg made a move on the inside and bumped Urry, sending him back for a fourth place finishing position.
“It was a great run,” Sandberg said. “Me and Sloan had an awesome battle from start to finish really. Both our cars were good in different places of the track so it made for really good racing. It’s just such a tough place to pass and it’s very unforgiving if you make a mistake so just really clean racing and we came out with fourth.”
Urry took the third step for EFFORT Racing and aims to stay consistent in round eight tomorrow. Urry also took a third place finish at Watkins Glen International.
Sloan Urry running the No. 20 Porsche GT3 Cup car, with Brett Sandberg of TruSpeed Motorsports trailing right behind
“Back-to-back podiums is always a fun thing,” Urry said. “It was a really tough race. The guys in front, Angel (Benitez Jr.) and Madison (Snow) had lightning quick pace. (Brett) Sandberg gave me a great race, we had a lot of fun, side-by-side a little bit of door banging so it was awesome. I’m glad I was able to land a podium position again for EFFORT Racing. They gave me a great car and we’re ready to go for tomorrow trying to move up the step.”
With the win, Snow becomes the sole points leader with 112, followed by Ashley Freiberg and Benitez, tied for second with 96. Freiberg entered the weekend as the series points leader, but extensive damage sustained during qualifications leaves her sidelined for the weekend.
“I don’t really know where to start except that it’s really disappointing,” Freiberg said. “I made a mistake in the worst spot possible on the race track and ended up not being able to finish out the weekend. It’s a huge blow for the team, for me and everyone who has been supporting me.
TPC Racing’s Ben Keating earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for his efforts in gaining positions throughout the race. Keating managed a ninth place finish overall after starting out in 15th.
Championships aren’t easy to win and this is going to be a tough one as far as the points to come back from. But more than anything I feel bad that I let my team down, but at this point all I can really do is learn from it, move on, and look toward Road America.”
In the Gold Cup category, Michael Levitas built up his already substantial lead in the standings with a Race One victory, but the win didn’t lack pressure from other competitors. Danny Gianfrancesco and Franck Silah stayed right with the TPC Racing driver throughout the duration of the 45-minute sprint.
“What a race,” Levitas said. “Gosh, Franck (Silah) behind me was pushing me so hard and I knew I had to get going right on the start. And I knew he was going to give me a hard time from practicing so I just had to get up there, get steady and stay consistent and see if he could do it. And darn it, he was able to stay there! Franck did a great job, the MGM (MGM Racing) boys did a great job and the Porsche of Towson #36 car came in first place but with great competition! Thanks Franck!”
Top three Gold Cup: Danny Gianfrancesco (far left), Michael Levitas (center), Franck Silah (far right).
In his first competition with the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series this season, Silah proved a force to be reckoned with in Gold Cup competition, landing on the podium for third.
“At the end it was very interesting,” Silah said. “I had a bad moment with Mr. Levitas. We touched and I put two wheels on the grass. I made a spin and lost the chance to be in the front. The lap times were very close, but it wasn’t possible to catch them after the spin. But I am happy just the same.”
IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama participants start their engines for Race Two of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Sunday, July 21 at 3:15 p.m. ET. For race results, event information or to download a Spotter’s Guide, go to the series website. Live race tweeting can be found on Twitter @GT3Challenge or on Facebook.
The Master Championship
Craig Duerson and NGT Motorsport regain the Masters Championship lead with a victory in Race One at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Duerson has now tallied 120 points, five more than Kasey Kuhlman with the next highest points standings.
Kuhlman took third place for the first time in four races, the rest of his finishes being first or second. The Wright Motorsports driver finished 12th overall at the 10-turn facility.
CORE Autosport’s Jonathan Bennett repeated his season high finish, with a second place spot at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Jonathan Bennett: Second Place Masters Championship
“Mosport (CTMP) is a fantastic track and when you are inside a GT3 Cup Car, there is no better place to be. It was a great race, and of course always, I am a driver and would rather be a little bit more toward the front. But it’s a tough class and I am learning race by race and I had a great time today.”
Kasey Kuhlman: Third Place Masters Championship
“I’m exhausted. I’m wiped out. I was stuck behind slower traffic at the beginning and I spun myself by not hitting a car. Anthony Mantella ran a great race and I just got back on the horse and passed cars back and made it back to the Masters podium so I’m really happy.”
Pfaff/Alegra Motorsports Lands Two on Top at CTMP
The Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin participants punctuated the end of a very eventful day at the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with an action-packed Race One that ultimately showcased the talents of Pfaff/Alegra Motorsports veteran Chris Green, and series newcomer Victor Carbone as they landed on the top and bottom step of the podium this afternoon.
“Pretty awesome today,” exclaimed Green who hails from Montreal, QC. “I was fortunate enough to pull away in the beginning. Just kind of had a brain fade while I was out there, locked up a wheel and created a flat spot on my tire, and I went in to maintenance mode after that. The yellow flag came out unfortunately and obviously the pack was able to catch up to me. I know that Victor (Carbone) was very very fast today. He was the guy that I was looking for and props to him. I’m proud that he was able to pull off a third. I know we deserve better. But the Pfaff, Castor Oil, Alegra guys did a great job today and the win was really for them.”
Platinum Cup podium: (From left) David Ostella, Chris Green, Victor Carbone
Green’s teammate Carbone, who comes from the open wheel ranks, stepped into the car formerly run by Spencer Pigot and proved that he was more than competent to take the reins and keep up the “good work” with a solid third place finish in his first event in the series, despite a few bumps and a short learning curve along the way.
“I noticed I was pulling a little bit,” said the young Brazilian driver. “But around turn five I made a mistake all by myself, and that is how Ostella was able to get me. With all the yellows it made it too hard for me to take the position back. But I’m happy with how it went. I’m still getting use to the car especially on this high speed track. But I think the result was good and good for the team as well.”
And while the dynamic duo made a great statement on the podium regarding the agility and ability of the 911 GT3 Cup car, it was rookie and current series points leader David Ostella that added the punctuation.
The 21-year-old from Maple, Ontario started the race in seventh position for SpeedMerchants, and once the checkered flag dropped, began his immediate signature hard charge to the front. Passing one car each lap, he quickly wound his way to second place and locked in behind Green, where he held on through two caution periods to take home a well-earned second place.
“It was an amazing race,” Ostella said. “I started off seventh and made my way to second. It was just phenomenal. It ended on yellow, and while I wish it didn’t, I think I could have had something for Chris (Green) at the end there. I just can’t thank the SpeedMerchants guys enough, because they did a great job for me today. We struggled a bit in qualifying but definitely found our rhythm and bounced back today. Driving a Porsche is such an awesome experience and I am hopeful that we can keep that momentum in tomorrow’s race. Doing both the U.S. and Canadian races this weekend has made me appreciate both tire manufacturers and my Michelins held up beautifully today.”
Catching the spirit of Ostella’s drive, GT Racing’s JF Laberge demonstrated why the Montreal native captured the Platinum Championship last season, by pushing from a last place starting position on the grid due to a late tire change following qualifying, all the way to sixth place as the checkered flag fell.
As the series reaches its halfway point in the season, the Gold Cup competition has not waivered one inch as the “Three Amigos” of Carlos de Quesada, Martin Barkey and Tim Sanderson continue to check their mirrors and heat up their Michelins as they battle for the Series Championship.
Once again it was Pfaff/Alegra on top with de Quesada taking the top trophy back to the trailer at the end of the day.
“It was good,” Quesada said. “The car was handling well thanks to my crew. The main thing was just trying to stay ahead of some of these slower Platinum cars and trying to stay out of trouble with them. Martin Harvey was on me, and I was being held up by another Platinum car ahead of me, but I was still quicker than Harvey. But then he kept trying to make a move and the last time he went off in the grass and hit pretty hard. It’s a such a shame but you have to be careful. Sanderson was doing a wonderful job but his tires fell off and I was able to stay ahead. Overall it was a great race. Everything was right there and Barkey (Martin) was doing a great job. Hats off to these guys it was great racing!”
Gold Cup podium (From left): Martin Barkey, Carlos de Quesada, Tim Sanderson
With only nine minutes left in competition, a full course caution was issued as the No. 08 entry of Martin Harvey and Wingho Racing made contact in Turn 3 and ultimately forced the competition to close under yellow flag conditions.
The incident took place right in front of Sanderson, who swerved to avoid contact and spun out, only to continue and concede a position to Barkey.
“As Kimi Raikkonen would say ‘We Spun’,” Sanderson said with laugh. “We had a great race between Martin Barkey, Carlos (de Quesada) and myself and getting held up a little bit by one of the Platinum cars, but at the end there was just a spin there late in the race with Martin Harvey’s car right in front of me, and I was just trying to avoid him because he came right across the track in front of me and I lost it and spun and gave up position which is hard to take back in a race like this. Maybe tomorrow.”
And while Sanderson is looking forward to tomorrow, series rookie Barkey was firmly pleased with his result today.
“Great day,” Barkey said. “Guys prepared the car well we had our fastest lap in qualifying ever at this track. And then coming and finishing in second right behind Carlos and racing with Tim. It was great. All three of us had a close race all day long. So far this is probably my favorite.”
Race one endured two full course caution periods. The first for the No. 59 entry of Jim Hoddinott who had contact on lap ten and brought out a three lap yellow for course clean-up. The second incident ensued from the contact by Harvey and lasted from lap 24 to the checkered flag on lap 27.
Race Two at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park begins Sunday, July 21 at 10 a.m. ET. For series news and updates, follow us on Twitter @GT3Canada or on Facebook. For race results, points standings, event information or to download a Spotter’s Guide, visit http://imsachallenge.ca.
The Masters Championship
Mark Motors Racing landed two drivers on the Platinum Masters podium today at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Marco Cirone in the No. 88 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car earned his fourth win of the season to regain the points lead from Anthony Mantella of SpeedMerchants, who had a great battle with Cirone’s teammate Perry Bortolotti, but was ultimately unable to catch him, and conceded his podium hopes.
GT Racing’s Etienne Borgeat was anxious to return to the famous Canadian track, after struggling with the new tires in the season opener. Borgeat regained his status as a prime contender, placing fifth overall in Platinum and second in Masters. It was Borgeat’s second race this season with the silver medal around his neck.
Masters Podium (from left): Etienne Borgeat, Marco Cirone and Perry Bortolotti
Cirone’s teammate Perry Bortolotti rounded out the Platinum podium for the second time this season to give Mark Motors Racing a boost in the team standings. Bortolotti held of a charging Mantella to take the third place position.
In Gold Masters, Carlos de Quesada in the No. 50 entry for Pfaff/Alegra Motorsports took the top step on the Podium today, accepting his trophy from Bibendum of Michelin, but he was unable to take the category points lead from Tim Sanderson.
Sanderson, who races for a cause with Fiorano Racing for Joanne’s House, suffered a spin near the end of the race to avoid contact with another car, conceded the second place finish to hard-charging series rookie Martin Barkey of Fiorano/Garage Racing.
Marco Cirone: First Place Masters Championship
“I have to thank my team! They gave me a fantastic car and considering the weather conditions the car held up really really good, and I want to thank Mark Motors for giving me the opportunity to be here. Those kids are just so good and I tried so hard and I think I kept up with them but I think it would have been next to impossible or I would have needed a miracle to pass them. But I am going to keep on trying though!”
Etienne Borgeat: Second Place Masters Championship
“That was one of the very tightest Porsche races we have been into. There were about four or five of us fighting in a very close distance. It was really nice, but there was lots of moving around though. Marco (Cirone) gave me a great run. I think I was faster, and my team said I was faster, but I just couldn’t find the right place to pass him. We will have to work on that for tomorrow and look at the data and everything. I enjoyed it, it was a good race. After several races here with some bad luck I am happy to be here. I would like to be a little faster, but still I am coming back, so I am happy with it.”
Perry Bortolotti: Third Place Masters Championship
“Well that was a hell of a race. Etienne (Borgeat) took off and he got the jump on me at the start, and I didn’t think he was going to hold it, but he was able to and he kept the pace all race. These cars are so even and he was driving well and we were both running similar lap times and I noticed Anthony (Mantella) coming up hard behind me and I knew I had enough for him, but it was going to be tight one way or another.”
Pfaff/Alegra Motorsports teammates Chris Green and Victor Carbone made up the front row for the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin Race One at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Winning his fourth pole of the year, Green churned out a new qualifying lap record of 1:21.120 in just his second lap around the historic Canadian Road Course.
“Overall it’s been a great day along with a great event,” Green said. “The track itself has really come into our car the way had hoped. We’re really happy. This is a great event with all these fans and all these spectators.”
Carbone starts in second position in his series debut after posting a qualifying time of 1:21.643.
The 30-minute session finished without a single caution, allowing drivers to show their true speed on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile facility. The top four drivers all posted times under one minute, 21 seconds.
Masters contenders and Mark Motors Racing teammates Marco Cirone and Perry Bortolotti joined the top five for the start, with Cirone in third and Bortolotti in fifth.
Despite posting the fastest lap early on in the session, GT Racing’s JF Laberge finished with the fourth-fastest time in qualifications, but was moved to start the rear of the field due to a post qualifying tire change.
Ostella Finishes First Daily Double 6th and 2nd at CTMP
Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin points leader David Ostella was happy to come back to his home track this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). The 21-year-old rookie is pulling double duty, also running in the US-based IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama races for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix.
“Mosport is my home track,” Ostella said. “I’ll be able to sleep in my own bed, have the support of my whole family being there, and be able to have home cooked meals. It adds a level of comfort to not be in some hotel in a place you are unfamiliar with.”
Ostella qualified his SpeedMerchants Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup car seventh in his home series on the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit yesterday. An abandoned qualifying round for weather put Ostella in the ninth starting position in the US series.
The Maple, Ontario native first lined his GT3 Cup 911 up today for Round Seven of the US-series championship. Starting ninth, Ostella advanced three positions against the deep field of talented teams and drivers to finish sixth on the day. This was the fourth time this year that journeyman Ostella competed in an IMSA-sanctioned series other than his own.
David Ostella heading into Turn 1 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in US GT3 Cup Challenge
“This (US GT3 Cup Challenge) race was more about taking it easy,” Ostella said. “These Porsche GT3 Cup cars are strong, but we didn’t want to risk serious damage to it. I really wanted to win, but I’m definitely focused on the Canadian Championship.
“It was a great start, just slowly working my way up. Just being so far back, the front guys just pulled away and I was hoping for a yellow, it would have helped. The car was great and it was definitely good momentum going into the (GT3 Cup Challenge Canada) race. We are really happy with sixth.”
Getting back to his pursuit in the GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series, Ostella enjoyed a bit better starting position of seventh for Round Five of the championship. A slim seven-point lead is all that separated him from the competition when he took the green flag for today’s 45-minute sprint.
As Ostella has done several times this season, he confided in his Porsche GT3 Cup car, his team’s preparation and his own diligence as he set out to catch the polesitter who was also second in points behind him. His confidence paid immediate dividends as Ostella gained one position per lap in the first five laps to capture second and put the leader in sight.
David Ostella tracking down the leader at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in GT3 Cup Challenge Canada competition
A caution flag period midway through the race bunched up the field for a restart and a chance for Ostella to make a run for the lead, but time ran out as another yellow came out just as Ostella had closed up the gap on the leader. He happily took home second place today as the race ended under caution.
“It was an amazing race,” Ostella exclaimed. “We started off seventh and quickly made our way up to second. The GT3 Cup car and the Michelin tires were just phenomenal. The race ended on yellow, wish it didn’t, I think we could have had something for Chris (Green) at the end there. It was a phenomenal race, I can’t thank the SpeedMerchants guys enough, they did a great job. We struggled in qualifying but definitely found a bit of it today. Hopefully we find a bit more of it tomorrow.”
Ostella will continue his GT3 Cup Challenge Canada effort at 10 a.m. ET tomorrow July 21 for Round Six. He will also take the track at 3:15 p.m ET tomorrow for Round Eight of the US GT3 Cup Challenge.