July 2, 2016.- Entered in the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada this season, Quebec driver Valérie Chiasson contested her third event of 2016, at the Watkins Glen circuit in the state of New York. Two races, comprised of 37 drivers, were presented on this former Formula 1 United States Grand Prix track. For Valérie Chiasson, who was learning the track for the first time, the weekend had its ups and downs but, after being the victim of a collision in the first race, she was able to finish the second race in eighth place amongst the Canadian drivers and therefore scoring important points in the championship.
After earning her first Top 6 in Porsche GT3 Cup Canada during the Grand Prix du Canada last month, where she was the only female driver among 113 male counterparts, this third outing of the season presented additional challenges for Valérie Chiasson, as she increased her comfort level in the car while learning this new track.
"The Watkins Glen circuit is a fantastic one and I regret not racing here earlier in my career," Chiasson said. "With its mix of fast turns and more technical sections, it’s really a beautiful challenge."
Similarly to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve three weeks earlier, the event assembled the American and Canadian Porsche GT3 competitors, with a starting grid of no less than thirty-seven drivers and more intense race traffic than normal. Qualifying seventh among the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada drivers, and twentieth (first race) and eighteenth (second race) overall, Valérie had a positive outlook after the qualification.
"I lost some positions in the last two laps when I caught some slower competitors and that affected my times but all in all, I’m satisfied with my progression," Chiasson said. "To be able to qualify in the middle of the pack in only my third event of such a competitive series, is in line with my goals » mentions the only female Porsche Cup driver on the continent, and one of two worldwide in this type of competition, taking place in no less than nineteen countries."
Unfortunately for Valérie Chiasson, her first race of the weekend was very brief.
"I had a good start but while braking for the first turn, the two competitors in front of me collided," Chiasson said. "I didn’t lose concentration and I had the right line by taking the inside of the turn but a driver in the American series hit me full force on the side, while another hit my rear right. It was impossible to go any further, the car was too damaged. It’s extremely frustrating because it’s the second time in a row that I’m hit by a driver in the American series. At least at the Grand Prix du Canada, I was able to finish the race, even if I lost a few positions. That time I was able to earn enough points to maintain my seventh place in the championship but this time, it was just impossible."
Eleven drivers were involved in the first-lap incidents.
The briefly repaired Porsche Prestige Porsche GT3 Cup enabled Valérie to take the start of the second race the following morning.
"I had to deal with a skew steering wheel so I lost three spots on the first lap and eventually finished eighth in the Canadian series, twenty-second overall." Chiasson said. "It’s not what I wanted; I was hoping to make up one or two spots in the last few laps but an accident behind me resulted in a caution period and the raced ended up finishing behind the Safety Car."
Even if Valérie Chiasson’s race results weren’t what she expected, the times she posted during her very first race in the United States are a good omen for a successful second half of the season. At Watkins Glen, Ontarian Daniel Morad won the first event and Scott Hargrove took the second. The drivers from the Canadian series dominated their American rivals all weekend long.
The following outing for Valérie Chiasson and the Porsche Prestige team will take place on July 15th and 16th in the streets of Toronto as part of the Toronto Indy. Two races will be on the program and this time, only consisting of the drivers in the Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup series.
Valérie Chiasson’s participation this season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada is organized in partnership with Porsche Prestige (principal partner), Total Canada, Super Décapant, Anibal Automotive Design, L.P.M., VCE Auto Marketing and Pole-Position Magazine.