Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada Watkins Glen International Thursday Notebook
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Official practice began Thursday for a unique combined competition format at Watkins Glen International. A field of 40 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars took the track to begin the weekend-long shootout between the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and the Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama competitors. This battle of the borders marks the only time this season the two separate championships face each other on track together.

In Platinum Cup, Jake Eidson (USA, No. 24, Kelly-Moss Road and Race) and Scott Hargrove (Canada, No. 9, Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol) have a combined eight race wins between them this season and lead their respective series in points. Yet, only Hargrove has been perfect within his own series – he has four flag-to-flag wins in the four prior Canadian races. Eidson has three victories in six USA races, giving up one win to Hargrove at Sebring International Raceway earlier this year. Eidson finished a close second and took a win the following day.

The competition has been particularly close between the two series on the rare occasions when they’ve previously met in prior years, or when journeymen drivers venture across the border for additional seat time. Thursday’s practice sessions proved to be no different.

Hargrove led the morning session, posting a fastest lap of one minute, 50.843 seconds. Eidson closely followed on his heels with a lap of 1:51.932 around the 3.4 mile, 11-turn circuit. Eidson turned the tables in the afternoon session, leading with a lap of 1:50.752 – the fastest of the day. Canada’s Zacharie Robichon kept the pair of championship contenders within range in his No. 98 Mark Motors Racing GT3 Cup car. His lap of 1:51.039 was good for third fastest for the day.

Gold Cup driver Roman De Angelis has been busy this season. De Angelis has run the No. 78 for Mark Motors Racing in both the USA and Canada this year posting a combined seven wins. He is competing full-time for the Canadian Gold Cup championship, where he is four-for-four in series victories. But he also has three Gold Cup wins and a podium in the four USA races he’s entered this season.

De Angelis had little to worry about in today’s practice sessions. His time of 1:52.726 was fastest in Gold by nearly two seconds, and 12th overall among all classes. GT3 Cup Challenge USA veteran Michael Levitas was second in Gold in the No. 36 TPC Racing/DSC Sport entry, followed by another USA competitor, Victor Gomez IV, in the NGT Motorsport/Mapfre No. 25.

Platinum Masters practice was a Canadian affair with Marco Cirone leading the field in his Mark Motors No. 88 with a lap of 1:53.181. Fellow series competitor Tim Sanderson was virtually on Cirone’s bumper with his time of 1:53.451 in the No. 07 DFC Motorsport/Speedstar Motorsport car, followed by Shaun McKaigue in the No. 34 Pfaff Motorsports/FER-PAL Infrastructure entry. The top three in Platinum Masters practice were separated by a scant 0.362 seconds.

Qualifying is scheduled for Friday at 10:25 a.m. Race 1 will see the green flag at 6 p.m.

Race 2 will be Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Both races will be 45 minutes, utilizing a split start between the Platinum and Gold cars due to the volume of entries. Each race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv.

Both Watkins Glen races will also stream live on IMSA Radio at IMSA.com. Live timing for every race is available at IMSA.com, with live streaming video of all races at IMSA.tv.

Delayed television coverage will be provided on major network affiliates in numerous U.S. markets by Sinclair Broadcast Group on July 15, and the broadcast will be available on YouTube 24 hours after it airs on television.

For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, visit www.imsa.com, and follow hashtags #GT3USA and #GT3CAN @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.

Schedule (all times ET):

Qualifying: 10:25 - 10:45 a.m. Friday, June 30

Round 1 (45 minutes): 6:00 - 6:45 p.m. Friday, June 30

Round 2 (45 minutes): 10:30 - 11:15 a.m. Saturday, July 1