Morad Holds Off Hargrove To Win Thrilling Opener at CTMP
Saturday, May 21, 2016

Daniel Morad refused to blink.

Morad, from Toronto, won the season-opening Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama race Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, edging 2014 Platinum Cup champion Scott Hargrove by .308 of a second for his second career victory in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Single-Make Series.

The top two drivers charged in lockstep throughout the 45-minute race, almost never separated by more than one-half of a second after Morad took the lead from pole sitter Hargrove with a bold outside move in the daunting Turn 1 at the start.

“That was one of the toughest races I’ve ever done,” Morad said. “One year of experience of racing against Scott really helped. I’m starting to learn his trends, his patterns of how he takes certain things.”

Series rookie Zach Robichon, from Ottawa, finished third in his first sports car race in the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. Three-time reigning Platinum Masters champion Marco Cirone, from Toronto, placed fourth and was the top Platinum Masters finisher in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche.

Etienne Borgeat, from Montreal, rounded out the top five in the No. 2 GT Racing Porsche.

2011 Gold Cup champion Shaun McKaigue, from Gilford, Ontario, earned his first Gold Cup victory since 2014 in the No. 34 Fiorano Racing Porsche. Andrew Danyliw, from Toronto, won the Silver Cup class in the global Porsche single-make racing debut for the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport race car.

Round 2, a 45-minute race, will start at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Morad made his intent clear right at the green flag under sunny skies Saturday. He sped around Hargrove on the outside of Turn 1 after the green flag to take a lead he never surrendered in a caution-free race on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile (3.957 km) course.

But nothing was easy for Morad, who finished second in the Platinum Cup standings in 2015 in his first season of sports car racing.

Hargrove never relented for the entire race, pouring on the pressure. The largest margin between the two was .847 of a second, with Hargrove never trailing by more than .583 of a second during the second half of the race in his No. 28 OpenRoad Racing Porsche.

Hargrove made a move for the lead in Turn 5 with 13 minutes remaining while he and Morad lapped a slower car, and the front left of Hargrove’s car nudged the right rear of Morad’s No. 17 Alegra Motorsports Porsche. But both cars continued.

Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, tried a daring outside pass in Turn 1 – mirroring Morad’s decisive move at the start – with four minutes left. But Morad parried the attempt and kept the lead. Morad also earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for his performance.

“It was definitely one of the most exciting races I’ve been in in recent memory,” Hargrove said. “I wanted to get the win today but just didn’t get the start I needed, and then Daniel got a good run going into Turn 1. Unfortunately, I was hoping to have a little bit more ability to run side by side more, but every chance I got, Daniel predicted well, and I just didn’t find a way around.”

While Morad and Hargrove fought for the lead, Mark Motors Racing teammates Robichon and Cirone lurked closely. With eight minutes remaining, just .957 of a second separated the top four cars. Just 1.320 seconds covered the top four at the finish.

Former Canadian junior open-wheel standout Robichon, 24, made a strong impression in his sports car debut.

“This was the first time for me racing in these cars, and in the beginning I think I made a few mistakes that put me back,” Robichon said. “About halfway through the race, I settled in and was able to keep up with them, and at the end I was just missing that little bit to be able to challenge Scott and Daniel. But tomorrow is another day, and we’ll give it another go.”

For more information about Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #GT3CAN @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.

Platinum Masters

Cirone opened the defense of his Platinum Masters championship with an inspired drive in which he fell just .475 of a second behind an overall podium finish.

He stalked teammate Robichon for the entire second half of the race, pulling side by side in Turn 3 in the last 10 minutes. But he couldn’t make the pass for the coveted podium spot.

Still, Cirone’s increased commitment to fitness during the offseason already is paying dividends.

“We were side by side once going there into (Turn) 3,” Cirone said. “It was pretty scary. But we’re teammates, so we’re both going to behave on track. We both want to win, but it was clean race.

“Keeping up with those guys is going to take everything I have because I realize I’m racing against three of the best young talents in Canada. For me to keep up, I’m very proud of my race, consistent lap times.”

Tim Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, finished second in the No. 07 NW Atlantic Motorsports Porsche.

Gold Cup

McKaigue broke through with his first Gold Cup victory since June 2014 with a superb drive under pressure.

He started from pole and built a solid gap early in the race. But then Bruno Chapinotti reduced the gap, pulling to within a few lengths of McKaigue with 10 minutes remaining.

But Chapinotti, from Toronto, lost traction exiting a corner while in traffic in his No. 03 DFC Motorsport Porsche. McKaigue pulled away for the victory by .374 of a second.

“I just made a point of keeping my eyes forward, putting down consistent laps,” McKaigue said. “The track was really greasy. The car was fairly consistent. That’s a great start. It’s always fun to win.”

Martin Harvey, from Berthierville, Quebec, finished third in the No. 08 Wingho Racing Porsche.

Silver Cup

Danyliw made history by earning the first victory in the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport car in the series. He started from pole and eased away for the win.

“The car was working a little better today,” Danyliw said. “We were able to get a little more confidence with it. I had some really positive, steady lap times. I’m really hopeful for the future and looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”

Gerald Panneton, from Terra Cotta, Ontario, finished second in the No. 57 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche.

ROUND 1 POST-RACE QUOTES:

DANIEL MORAD (No. 17 Alegra Motorsports, winner): “It was a tough race. We missed on the pole yesterday, and I was a little disappointed with that because I knew we had the pace in the car. It just didn’t work out. There were a few factors that added up to us not getting the pole. That’s racing. I went into today knowing I needed to get the lead on the start, and that’s what I did. I went super aggressive on the outside of Turn 1. I made sure I got right beside Scott (Hargrove) and paid attention on the start. One year of experience of racing against Scott really helped. I’m starting to learn his trends, his patterns of how he takes certain things. I was super focused and determined to do what I did on the start. I knew I needed to do it to win this race. That was one of the toughest races I’ve ever done. I definitely felt it. It was tough out there because we had three different classes. It’s definitely a big challenge. But having that Prototype experience at Sebring really helped me get through traffic. There are four classes, Prototype, PC, GTLM and GTD, in WeatherTech, so that experience really helped today. I’m really happy. Thanks to everyone at Alegra and Porsche Centre Oakville for giving me a great car.”

SCOTT HARGROVE (No. 28 OpenRoad Racing, second): “It was definitely one of the most exciting races I’ve been in in recent memory. I wanted to get the win today but just didn’t get the start I needed, and then Daniel (Morad) got a good run going into Turn 1. Unfortunately, I was hoping to have a little bit more ability to run side by side more, but every chance I got, Daniel predicted well, and I just didn’t find a way around. A couple of times I was beside him and just on the wrong side of the track or the wrong opportunity with traffic. It didn’t work out to get the pass done, but we had the pace, so hopefully we’ll be able to find the top step tomorrow.”

ZACH ROBICHON (No. 78 Mark Motors Racing, third): “This was the first time for me racing in these cars, and in the beginning I think I made a few mistakes that put me back. About halfway through the race, I settled in and was able to keep up with them, and at the end I was just missing that little bit to be able to challenge Scott (Hargrove) and Daniel (Morad). But tomorrow is another day, and we’ll give it another go.”

MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, winner, Platinum Masters): “We (Zach Robichon) were side by side once going there into (Turn) 3. It was pretty scary. But we’re teammates, so we’re both going to behave on track. We both want to win, but it was clean race. Keeping up with those guys is going to take everything I have because I realize I’m racing against three of the best young talents in Canada. For me to keep up, I’m very proud of my race, consistent lap times. My team gave me an amazing car. Thank you very much to Mark Motors once again for giving us the opportunity to be here this year.”

TIM SANDERSON (No. 07 NW Atlantic Motorsports, second, Platinum Masters): “I think it was good, clean race, which was great. I picked up a spot due to Michael’s (de Quesada) misfortune. The car was pushing a little bit about halfway through, so it was a little frustrating we couldn’t catch Etienne (Borgeat) today. But tomorrow’s another day, and we’ll get back at it.”

SHAUN McKAIGUE (No. 34 Fiorano Racing, winner, Gold Cup): “I just made a point of keeping my eyes forward, putting down consistent laps. The track was really greasy. The car was fairly consistent. The tires were holding on, but it felt like the track was pretty greasy. That’s a great start. It’s always fun to win. Fiorano gave me a great car. Pfaff, Fer-Pal and Aqua Pipe all supported me, so that’s great.”

BRUNO CHAPINOTTI (No. 03 DFC Motorsport, second Gold Cup): “I struggled a little bit exiting the corner, but tomorrow is another day. So we’ve got to look at the data and see what we can come up with. I was driving to the limit today. When you know you’re doing that, you really have to watch what you’re doing. But overall it was great. I fell back a little bit, pushed hard, caught up, and then we fell back again. But it’s a great learning process with the new suspension. Thank you to Downtown Porsche and the whole team.”

MARTIN HARVEY (No. 08 Wingho Racing, third, Gold Cup): “I’m happy for three or four laps, but the guys behind me pushed me, pushed me, pushed me, and I burned up my tires. It was impossible for me to go harder. The race was perfect. No accidents. That’s good news for everybody.”

ANDREW DANYLIW (No. 38 SCB Racing, winner, Silver Cup): “The car was working a little better today. We were able to get a little more confidence with it. I had some really positive, steady lap times. I’m really hopeful for the future and looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”

GERALD PANNETON (No. 57 Pfaff Motorsports, second Silver Cup): “It’s always nice to race at home. It’s a new series and a new car, so it’s very exciting. I’m learning the car. It’s very different from the Cup car, but it’s manageable and we just have to work at it.”

Schedule

Round 2 (45 minutes): 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Sunday, May 22

Race Coverage

Live video: Round 2 will be streamed live on IMSA.tv. Delayed coverage on TSN will air at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday, June 9.

Live timing: All on-track sessions at scoring.imsa.com

Twitter: Live text commentary from all sessions at @IMSALive

Helping Hands

Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama teams, drivers and officials encourage donations for the Alberta Fires Appeal through the Canadian Red Cross by visiting redcross.ca. Canadian residents also can text FIRES to 45678 to make a $10 donation to the Alberta Fires Appeal through the Canadian Red Cross.

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