CLARINGTON, Ontario (Sept. 3, 2016) – Scott Hargrove kept his Platinum Cup championship hopes flickering with a dominant victory Saturday in Round 11 of the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP).
Hargrove, from Tsawwassen, British Columbia, trails Daniel Morad by 11 points in the standings with the final round set to start at 9:45 a.m. (ET) Sunday. He drove his No. 28 OpenRoad Racing Porsche to a 13.521-second victory today over Platinum Cup championship leader Daniel Morad.
Morad, from Toronto, must finish sixth or better Sunday to clinch his first Platinum Cup championship in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Single-Make Series. Morad has placed in the top three in 10 of his 11 starts this season, the only exception a ninth-place class finish in Round 2 in May at CTMP.
“When it comes to racing wheel-to-wheel, there’s no need to take an unnecessary risk, and no one remembers the small event,” Morad said. “They remember the big event at the end, who won the war, I guess you would say. That’s what my goal is for tomorrow. Get another respectable finish – maybe a podium – and close out the championship. It’s been a great year.”
Zach Robichon, from Ottawa, pressured Morad for the entire race before finishing third in the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche.
Marco Cirone, from Toronto, finished fourth overall in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche and was the top Platinum Masters class finisher. Cirone only needs to start the 45-minute race Sunday to clinch his fourth consecutive Platinum Masters championship.
Tim Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, rounded out the top five in the No. 07 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Shaun McKaigue, from Gilford, Ontario, won the Gold Cup class and clinched his second season championship in the No. 34 Fiorano Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Andrew Danyliw, from Toronto, won the Silver Cup class and clinched the season championship in the No. 38 SCB Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
Morad started from the pole after turning a track-record lap of 1 minute, 18.942 seconds during qualifying Saturday morning, .632 of a second ahead of Hargrove. Morad led for the first 11 minutes of the 45-minute race, maintaining a gap of about four-tenths of a second after most trips around the 10-turn, 2.459-mile (3.957 km) circuit.
But Hargrove got a strong run down the back straightaway with about 33 minutes remaining and passed Morad in Turn 8. Morad offered little resistance, thinking of the championship before taking any risks for race victory.
Hargrove then steadily pulled away while deftly navigating lap traffic for the closing 30 minutes of the race. He cruised to his series-leading sixth victory of the season and also earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award.
“I knew it was just a matter of time before I was able to make the pass, and that’s exactly what I did,” Hargrove said. “I got a run out of Turn 5 and just dove down the inside.
“He’s running for the championship, so I’m sure he gave me a bit more room than he normally would. But I still had to get on the brakes late, and we went wide, but I was able to keep it on the road and drove away from there.”
Morad wasn’t given the luxury of cruising to second place. Robichon pressured him for the last 30 minutes of the race, staying within six-tenths of a second or closer nearly the whole way.
Robichon pulled to within .256 of a second of Morad with seven minutes remaining. But Robichon didn’t get close enough to try to dive under Morad for second in the closing laps, ending up .355 of a second behind at the checkered flag.
“A couple of times I thought I might have had an opportunity,” Robichon said. “The thing I have to give him credit for is that he was really, really fast in (Turn) 5B, which took away the two best pass opportunities in Turn 8 and Turn 10 because he was able to get such a good run. He drove a good race; I have to give him credit.”
Cirone entered this event reeling, as Sanderson won four consecutive rounds to pull to within four points in the standings.
But Cirone’s Mark Motors Racing team rediscovered the setup that helped him win the class in five of the first six races of the season. It also helped that Cirone is fast and comfortable at CTMP, where he has won nine consecutive Platinum Masters races in the series.
“I felt like I was back on my game being back here,” Cirone said. “I’m very, very confident, and the guys gave me a great car and I was able to bring it home.
“I know Tim has been driving so well the last four races, and I was actually intimidated at first. But I said, ‘Mosport’s my track,’ and the team encouraged me, and we showed it today. Very happy.”
Sanderson started from the class pole, .069 of a second ahead of Cirone on the grid. But Cirone wasted no time, passing Sanderson on the first lap and never trailing thereafter.
Cirone beat Sanderson to the finish by 11.577 seconds for his sixth class victory of the season.
McKaigue led the whole way from the pole as he locked up his first Gold Cup title since winning the class championship in the inaugural season of the series in 2011.
But the first half of the race featured a tense duel between McKaigue and Bruno Chapinotti. The two drivers marched in lockstep around the circuit, with the gap holding steady at about three-tenths of a second.
But then Chapinotti, from Bowmanville, Ontario, was forced to the pits with about 15 minutes left due to a mechanical problem in his No. 03 DFC Motorsport Porsche that forced his retirement from the race.
McKaigue then was able to exhale and cruised to his sixth class victory of the season.
“We had a good battle going for a while, and I was starting to get a little bit of a gap on him but then unfortunately Bruno (Chapinotti) had a breakdown, which is really unfortunate,” McKaigue said. “Hats off to my team. It’s them who has won this by giving me a consistent car that finishes every time. They put it back together when I break it. My team is the best.”
Danyliw stayed perfect in the class for the new Cayman GT4 Clubsport car, earning his fifth victory in as many starts. He finished an impressive seventh overall after starting from the Silver Cup class pole.
“It was a tough race because there was a lot less grip then there was this morning,” Danyliw said. “So it was pretty challenging, but it was a lot of fun and it was nice to have some closer competition this weekend. I’m happy.”
Ilker Starck, from Toronto, finished second in the No. 48 SCB Racing Porsche. Series newcomer Ed Killeen, from Buffalo, New York, finished third in the No. 37 Dome Motorsport Porsche.
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ROUND 11 POST-RACE QUOTES
SCOTT HARGROVE (No. 28 OpenRoad Racing, winner; Yokohama Hard Charger Award winner): “Today the car was just so good. I knew when I was following Daniel (Morad), I had a little bit of aero understeer, but I was still able to follow and even catch in some corners. I knew it was just a matter of time before I was able to make the pass, and that’s exactly what I did. I got a run out of Turn 5 and just dove down the inside. He’s running for the championship, so I’m sure he gave me a bit more room than he normally would. But I still had to get on the brakes late, and we went wide, but I was able to keep it on the road and drove away from there. Hats off to OpenRoad and Best Line Autotech because after qualifying we were scratching our heads going, ‘Where’s the pace?’ They went to work, and we literally put the last bolt back in the car about 10 minutes before false grid closed. They had the thing torn apart, but it was so much better afterward. I’m just so thankful to those guys for all of their hard work, and I’m looking forward to going for another win tomorrow.”
DANIEL MORAD (No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports, second): “Tomorrow, just like today, has to be a conservative day. I have amazing guidance from Francesco Policaro from Porsche Centre Oakville and the Policaro family. They are not only guiding me professionally but personally in how to approach this big weekend. My team, Alegra Motorsports, did an incredible job preparing the car. We proved what we could do in qualifying and all through practice. In practice and qualifying, we did our own thing. When it comes to racing wheel-to-wheel, there’s no need to take an unnecessary risk, and no one remembers the small event. They remember the big event at the end, who won the war, I guess you would say. That’s what my goal is for tomorrow. Get another respectable finish – maybe a podium – and close out the championship. It’s been a great year.” (On Scott Hargrove’s decisive pass): “There was no point in defending him. He came in really deep and very aggressive. I have everything to lose; he has nothing to lose. It’s not my position to hold him up. Good on him. He had a really good turnaround from qualifying to the race. And for me, I was just out there pushing nine-tenths. There was no need for me to go flat out, right on the knife edge, this time. There is a time and place for that, and it wasn’t now. Hats off to Zach (Robichon). He kept me honest the entire time. He’s been constantly improving throughout the year, and it kind of reminds me of the position I was in last year. Constantly improving. And if he stays in the series, he’s going to be a threat next year for the championship.”
ZACH ROBICHON (No. 78 Mark Motors Racing, third): (About chances of passing Daniel Morad): “A couple of times I thought I might have had an opportunity. The thing I have to give him credit for is that he was really, really fast in (Turn) 5B, which took away the two best pass opportunities in Turn 8 and Turn 10 because he was able to get such a good run. He drove a good race; I have to give him credit. If we would have gotten by him, we maybe could have pulled away because we had a lot of aero wash, but that’s racing. I had a lot of fun. The whole race I wasn’t giving up, but it is what it is. Congrats to Scott (Hargrove). He made a really great move that let him get by, that let him win the race. You saw that he pulled away. And Scott and I had similar cars. I don’t know that I would have been able to catch Scott, but I would have been close. Credit to both of them. They’ve been great all year, and I’m just happy to be racing with them.”
MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, winner, Platinum Masters): “I felt so good today. The crew gave me an amazing car. I felt like I was back on my game being back here. I’m very, very confident, and the guys gave me a great car and I was able to bring it home. I know Tim (Sanderson) has been driving so well the last four races, and I was actually intimidated at first. But I said, ‘Mosport’s my track,’ and the team encouraged me, and we showed it today. Very happy.” (About the championship being on the line): “I think that’s what makes me go faster. A little bit more pressure, and I seem to perform better. I just want to thank Mark Motors and my team for giving me such a great car.”
SHAUN MCKAIGUE (No. 34 Fiorano Racing, winner, Gold Cup): “It was a great race. We had a lead coming in here in the championship, and we just wanted to put down a good race, lock it up and put in some consistent laps. We had a good battle going for a while, and I was starting to get a little bit of a gap on him but then unfortunately Bruno (Chapinotti) had a breakdown, which is really unfortunate. Hats off to my team. It’s them who has won this by giving me a consistent car that finishes every time. They put it back together when I break it. My team is the best. Thanks to my sponsors Fer-Pal, AquaPipe, Pfaff. Absolutely fantastic.”
ANDREW DANYLIW (No. 38 SCB Racing, winner, Silver Cup): “It was a tough race because there was a lot less grip then there was this morning. So it was pretty challenging, but it was a lot of fun and it was nice to have some closer competition this weekend. I’m happy. Porsche’s done a great job. My team has done a great job. Mark Motors has done a great job. I’m really grateful to everyone for their contributions and their help.”
Live streaming: Round 12 at www.imsa.tv
TV: Delayed television coverage will be provided on TSN, with the schedule announced soon.
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Twitter: Live text commentary from all sessions at @IMSALive