Masters Cirone battles from last to fourth
The Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin Series matched the illustrious reputation of the Porshe 911 GT3 Cup car with a distinguished, caution-free Race 1 at Circuit de Trois-Rivières. The IMSA Development Series made its debut at the track in the 44th edition of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières.
The 1.5-mile, 10-turn circuit is the first temporary street course that any Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series has raced on in North America. In its opening competition, the drivers lit up the record books with historic performances and the veteran drivers’ expertise was on full display.
Jean-Frederic Laberge in Platinum Cup and Carlos de Quesada in Gold Cup both turned new race lap records in the 45-minute sprint. Laberge of GT Racing took the checkered for the second consecutive time this season, regaining his brilliance from the 2012 season. Laberge got a jump on polesitter Chris Green in Lap 1, and held onto the lead for 40 total laps.
“I am happy to be back on the podium again this week,” Laberge said. “I won the last race. The start of the season was so bad, but it’s starting to be like it was last season again. So I am happy. Everything is turning well. I am happy Etienne (Borgeat) was on the podium with me.”
GT Racing teammate Etienne Borgeat also shined in Round 7 of the 2013 season with a third-place finish to give the team significant Platinum Cup points. He charged from a ninth-place starting position to seize a third-place finish in the Platinum Cup. Borgeat was relieved to take the podium after a mistake in the final turn in Round 6 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park cost him a podium spot.
“Similar to last race weekend, I was unhappy for the whole weekend except in the race,” Borgeat said. “We started ninth and finished third on the podium so that’s really good. I was just one step missing from winning second, but that’s fine. I will take the third for this race.”
In between the French Canadians was SpeedMerchants’ David Ostella with his sixth podium finish of the season. The 21-year-old has now posted three consecutive second-place finishes to extend his series points lead.
“It’s great to be here at Trois-Riveres again,” Ostella said. “This is my fifth time here now. I’ve been here in open wheel, but to be here in a Porsche GT3 Cup is just phenomenal. The Michelin tires were amazing. They lasted and were very consistent through the whole race. JF (Laberge) had a great race and I have to congratulate him on his second win now in a row. It was a great battle with Chris (Green) in that race. It’s unfortunate what happened to him. The championship is huge for me and that’s what we’re focusing on and that’s exactly what we did this race. Hopefully the same thing will happen again tomorrow.”
Laberge, guest driver Darryl O’Young and Ostella all made a pass on pole sitter Green in Lap 1. Ten laps into the race, Ostella and the other top three drivers had separated themselves from the field by 10 seconds. Ostella was in third place at that point and remained until Lap 21 when Green made a tight pass coming out of Turn 9. Five laps later, Green and O’Young were involved in an incident in Turn 6 where O’Young ultimately went off track and lost his second-place position as a result.
Ostella slid into P2 after the incident, with Green putting heavy pressure on him up until two minutes remaining. At that point, Green was forced to take a pit stop to change tires, which left him finishing eighth in Platinum Cup.
With nonstop action from start to finish, the battles in the middle of the pack were just as intense. Gold Cup competitors Carlos de Quesada of Pfaff/Alegra, Tim Sanderson and Martin Barkey exchanged positions in the many braking zones throughout the track that allow for clean passes. Barkey referred to his run in his Garage Racing entry as “wrestling” with the track as he adjusted to the tight turns and narrow stretches of the street circuit.
An early impact with the wall created a challenge for Sanderson, but the Fiorano Racing for Joanne’s House driver was able to finish the sprint. All Gold Cup participants are also Gold Masters competitors this weekend.
Carlos de Quesada: First Place Gold Cup/Gold Cup Masters
“What a wonderful track. Absolutely incredible. It’s very technical. It’s definitely got it’s danger. It’s hard to really try to focus with walls around you. If you lose a little bit of your focus, it can get ugly. But of course I was able to keep it together. I think the Porsche Cup guys did a wonderful job with this race trying to stay out of trouble, so it was a very good race.”
Tim Sanderson: Second Place Gold Cup/Gold Cup Masters
“I think we had a good run. We tagged the wall coming out of corner two early in the race, which set us back a little bit. We couldn’t make that kind of time up on a quick short track like this. It was a good race. The start was good and clean, which I like to see. We’re having a blast.”
Martin Barkey: Third Place Gold Cup/Gold Cup Masters
“I was fortunate enough to pull a third position in Gold. It’s a great track. I was still wrestling with the track. Rather new racing team as well. But I’m having a great time. It’s just a killer track. It’s awesome to be up here with all of these guys.
Race Two at Circuit de Trois-Rivières begins Sunday, August 11 at 11 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
GT Racing’s Etienne Borgeat claimed his first Masters Championship win of the season with a 45-minute sprint performance in which he patiently picked off opponents to climb his way to the top. Borgeat’s expertise was evident as he mastered the tricky and unique Circuit de Trois-Rivières.
Marco Cirone battled against the odds on the temporary street circuit, starting from the last position on the grid to end up fourth in the Platinum Cup and second in the Masters Championship. The Mark Motors Racing driver had gained four positions by the fourth lap and pressured fellow drivers religiously until the checkered flag waved.
Masters podium (left to right): Marco Cirone, Etienne Borgeat, Anthony Mantella
“This is my first time here in Quebec at this track and it is absolutely fantastic,” Cirone said. “I am having the time of my life here. The people of Quebec are just amazing. The people that put on the show in Three Rivers are great. I want to thank my team. They did a fantastic job. We started in last place and managed to finish up here on the podium. And a very special thank you to my sponsor and the teamowners Mark Motors Racing.”
SpeedMerchants’ Anthony Mantella battled with Mark Motors’ Perry Bortolotti for several laps and moved onto another fight with Borgeat later in the race. Mantella kept it clean, just as the rest of the field, displaying the smooth passes the course allows for. He secures his sixth podium of the season with the third place finish.
“It was a great start,” Mantella said. “There was a little mix up at the front so it allowed me to stay with the fast guys. I kept up with them for a quarter to half the race. The tires weren’t under me at that point so to keep the car safe I had to slow down a bit. Of course, the hounds that were behind me caught up and got by. My hat’s off to them but there’s another race tomorrow. You can be sure that lessons have been learned and I’ll be back to claim first place.”
As the first series on track today, the Porsche 911s set a high standard for competition at Circuit de Trois-Rivières. A close qualifying session left the top three drivers within six tenths of each other as guest driver Darryl O’Young, Chris Green and JF Laberge exchanged fast laps on the 1.5-mile, 10-turn circuit.
Green ultimately claimed the pole award, holding a time of 1:05.189 as the red flag waved with five minutes remaining. Qualifications came to a halt when a non-competition emergency required safety vehicles to be utilized outside of the track. The session was unable to be restarted.
Chris Green led the field to the green flag in his No. 9 Pfaff/Alegra Motorsports entry
“We went on cold tires and unfortunately got a little optimistic on the fronts and I locked it up going into the back straight,” Green said. “I scrapped a tire at that point and had to go back out and redeem myself. So I continued pushing to go out and beat the pro driver this weekend.”
Green’s fastest lap set a new qualifying lap record at Circuit de Trois-Rivières, as the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars debuted at the unique circuit. O’Young joins Green to complete the front row, with Laberge and David Ostella making out the second row for Race One.
Anthony Mantella of SpeedMerchants was the fastest Masters contender in qualifying, with a time of 1:06.123, ahead of Perry Bortolotti and Carlos de Quesada.
Pfaff/Alegra Motorsports driver de Quesada had an impressive performance in the Gold Cup car, finishing with the eighth-fastest time and a new Gold Cup qualifying lap record. The second-fastest time by a Gold Cup driver was turned by Tim Sanderson, and Martin Barkey rounded out the Gold category.
Ostella’s ‘Perfection’ Plan Pays Points at Trois-Rivières
Like many of his fellow Canadian competitors today, Maple, Ontario-native David Ostella is no stranger to the tight confines of the circuit at Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. The experience would prove helpful as the 10-turn, 1.5207-mile (2.433 km) temporary street circuit was the first of its kind for the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin Series and the first in North American Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge competition.
Ostella entered the weekend with a plan to protect and extend his Series points lead at the legendary circuit – perfection of laps.
“There’s no making mistakes at this course,” Ostella said. “There are no run offs, no grass and the pressure is on to run perfect laps. I love that you have to run it perfectly. My plan was to race clean, take car of the car, and lay down perfect laps.”
After starting fourth, that’s exactly what the 21-year-old did for 40 laps, after he and two other competitors passed polesitter Chris Green on the first lap of the race.
The points leader held onto the position while Green pressed him hard for the next 20 laps. Ostella surrendered the position to Green on Lap 21, but Green couldn’t hold on for long, getting involved in some deep braking issues with Ostella’s SpeedMerchants teammate Darryl O’Young in Turn 6.
David Ostella holding off Chris Green in the tight turns at Circuit Trois-Rivières.
Ostella grabbed the second-place spot and held onto it until the finish. Green would ultimately finish eighth after pitting for a tire change.
“It’s great to be here at Trois-Rivières again,” Ostella said. “This is my fifth time here now. I’ve been here in open wheel, but to be here in a Porsche GT3 Cup is just phenomenal. The Michelin tires were amazing. They lasted and were very consistent through the whole race. JF (Laberge) had a great race and I have to congratulate him on his second win now in a row. It was a great battle with Chris (Green) in that race. It’s unfortunate what happened to him. The championship is huge for me and that’s what we’re focusing on and that’s exactly what we did this race. Hopefully the same thing will happen again tomorrow.”
David Ostella accepts second place trophy from Patrick Saint-Pierre, Porsche Cars Canada
Today marks Ostella’s third second-place podium finish in a row and sixth podium of the season, helping him extend his points lead over Green going into tomorrow’s race. Race Two at Circuit de Trois-Rivières begins Sunday, August 11 at 11 a.m. ET.
For the latest updates follow SpeedMerchants Motorsports on Facebook and David Ostella on Facebook and Twitter at @DavidOstella.