Friday Notebook - Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada and USA by Yokohama
Friday, June 7, 2019

Roman De Angelis Paces the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Field on Friday to Earn Pole in Montreal

The Formula One Canadian Grand Prix officially got underway in Montreal on Friday, which includes the joint race weekend for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada and USA by Yokohama competitors.

This is the first of two weekends in 2019 that teams from both series will compete simultaneously, resulting in a stout field of nearly 40 drivers.

However, there was one driver that stood out among the rest, topping the lone practice session of the day and posting the fastest time in qualifying to earn the pole position for Race 1 on Saturday – Roman De Angelis.

De Angelis in the No. 79 Mark Motors Racing Porsche is fighting for titles in both the GT3 Cup Challenge Canada with Mark Motors, but also in GT3 Cup Challenge USA with Kelly-Moss Road and Race.

It was also just last year at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve that the 18-year-old scored his first GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Platinum Class pole and victory. On Friday, De Angelis bested his 2018 track record by .254 seconds with a lap of one minute, 37.708 seconds (99.848 mph).

“We went quicker in qualifying than we did last year and I think we broke my record, so that obviously shows an improvement from how we were last year and how we are this year,” said De Angelis. “That’s pretty important. But also, an awesome car once again by Mark Motors/Kelly Moss this weekend which is kind of cool. It’s a huge weekend for us, double points. The American and Canadian championships matter to us this weekend, so this is the best way to start it I think.”

Starting second will be another driver pulling double duty between the two championships this year, Parker Thompson in the No. 3 SCB Racing Porsche. Thompson competes with JDX Racing in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA. His JDX teammate Sean McAlister – the 2019 IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship recipient – will line up third on the grid alongside Canadian driver and Quebecker Patrick Dussault in fourth driving the No. 77 Lauzon Autosport Porsche.

In the Gold Class, Sebastian Carazo recorded the best lap time of 1:41.484 (96.133 mph) in the No. 27 NGT Motorsport Porsche. He swapped the lead with Angel Benitez Jr. in the No. 91 for FMS Motorsport, who finished a mere .104 seconds behind Carazo to start second in class.

Race 1 for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama goes green on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET. Prior to the race, there will be an autograph session for fans onsite at the Yokohama Tire Service Center at 1 p.m.

The starting grid for Race 2 will be determined by either the second fastest qualifying time or the fastest lap time in Race 1. With 39 cars on the grid, finding a faster lap time in Race 1 will be difficult to achieve. Race 2 will go green on Sunday at 10:15 a.m. before the Formula One race at 2 p.m.

Timing and scoring for both races will be available at www.scoring.imsa.com. News and updates are also available on IMSA.com, as well as on social media using any of the following hashtags - #IMSA, #GT3Canada or #GT3USA.

Thompson: “A Lot More to Lose” Contesting Both GT3 Cup Challenge Canada and USA Championships This Weekend

Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alberta, can be found driving the Canadian No. 3 SCB Racing entry this weekend, but also will be earning points with JDX Racing in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA championship. Fellow Canadians Roman De Angelis and Jeff Kingsley, in addition to Alan Metni from Texas, are also pulling double duty this weekend.

However, what separates Thompson from that group is that he’s in the middle of his first season not only racing Porsches, but also sports cars.

“Coming into this weekend, I think there’s a lot more to lose than there is to gain,” said Thompson. “We’re dealing with a street course. Not a lot of people realize Circuit Gilles Villeneuve isn’t a permanent road course, it’s a street course. There are walls everywhere, it’s only run once a year and aside from that, it’s a park here in Montreal. It’s really dirty, very low grip and one mistake can cost you a lot.

“The fact that it’s two championships, not just one this weekend, there’s definitely that added extra pressure. At the end of the day, we have to go out and get our job done just as if it was one championship. We’re focused on making the best of what we can.”

Balancing between the two GT3 Cup Challenge championships, as well as Indy Pro 2000, Thompson has plenty of experience bouncing between teams. Two on one weekend, though, has been interesting, but nothing the Canadian isn’t up for.

“My hat right now is honestly off to both Jeremy Dale from JDX Racing and Ilker Starck from SportsCarBoutique,” said Thompson. “It’s very rare that you find two team owners who see a value in a driver and at the end of the day if I win a race, I win it for both of them, not just one of them.

“It’s pretty cool to see two teams come together but at the end of the day, right now, I’m in Canada racing the SportsCarBoutique car, so I just have to make sure all the men at SportsCarBoutique continually do their job just like they did at (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last month). I have to make sure I do my job and go hopefully collect a podium.”

Former GT3 Cup Challenge Masters Winners Prepare for Higher Car Counts

Montreal native Etienne Borgeat returns to the Canadian Grand Prix this year as an event recordholder from his achievements in 2018. Having landed on the podium four times last year (twice overall, twice in Platinum Masters), Borgeat hopes to continue his winning ways at his home track.

He’ll have a few more obstacles to overcome, though, such as the 27 GT3 Cup Challenge USA cars that have joined the grid.

But it’s not as if Borgeat hasn’t overcome challenges before – last year’s Canadian Grand Prix marked Borgeat’s return to GT3 Cup Challenge Canada after suffering injuries in a joint series race nearly one year prior.

“It’s very different this weekend,” said Borgeat. “Last year if I remember, it was my first race in the series after my big crash, so everybody was unsure about where I would end up and it was the perfect weekend. It gave me a pretty good season, but I didn’t do the whole season.”

This year, Borgeat is entered for the full season in the No. 2 Lauzon Autosport Porsche and will be piloting an “art car,” featuring a boldly colored dragon on the hood as tribute to his guest panelist appearances on the Canadian television show “Dragon’s Den.”

“I’m looking forward to this race weekend,” said Borgeat. “I have to say I’m a little stressed by the number of cars that we have, especially the beginning of the race might be a little difficult to manage the first couple of corners, but we’ll see. That’s part of the race, so I’m actually pretty excited to have that many cars. And then I hope people recognize my car because of the different look and different colors, so I hope my friends and fans recognize me from the stands.”

Fellow Platinum Masters driver – albeit on the GT3 Cup Challenge USA side – Charlie Luck in the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche owns the most recent Platinum Masters victory from a joint GT3 Cup Challenge weekend, which was at Sebring International Raceway in March 2018.

“I think that when you compare ’18 to ’19, it’s two totally different worlds,” said Luck. “In the USA, we’ve got about 27 cars here and last year, most of our season we were in the 18-22 car count. And then there’s a whole other 17 Canadian cars here. Last time we were together was at Sebring and I would say that instead of there being 41, 42 cars, we had maybe 25 cars.”

Luck may need a little bit of luck this weekend, as it’s his first trip to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. As he describes, that wasn’t necessarily the case for some of the Canadian visitors at Sebring in 2018.

“I think what you’ve got is literally the very best of the best of both countries here,” said Luck. “I think the competition is a lot stiffer. Also, this is a track that if you’re a Canadian guy that maybe you’ve been to, but if you’re an American guy you haven’t been here.

“When we met in Sebring, the Canadian guys come down there a lot and the American guys are there a lot. I think the American guys are disadvantaged here compared to the Canadian guys. I’ve never seen this place before and a bunch of my buddies haven’t either, but you know what, we’ll work it out. We’ll get faster, we’ll get better.”

Photo Credit: Jamey Price

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