Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada Watkins Glen International Saturday Notebook
Saturday, July 1, 2017

A storied, yet challengingly wet, Watkins Glen International provided the backdrop for Porsche GT3 Cup racing action in a combined format of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama drivers and teams. Only 30 of the original 40 entries reported to the grid after yesterday’s multiple-car incident on Lap 2 damaged numerous cars and resulted in an abandoned race.

Points leaders in the USA and Canada series lined up one-two as Jake Eidson (USA, No. 24, Kelly-Moss Road and Race) started on pole with Scott Hargrove (Canada, No. 9, Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol) directly behind him in the second slot for the single-file start. The duo was followed by Zacharie Robichon (Canada, No. 98, Mark Motors Racing) who is currently second in the Canadian points battle and has been Hargrove’s toughest competition this season.

After a brief early caution on Lap 2 for a spun car, Eidson found himself in an immediate cross-border duel with Hargrove on the rain-soaked, 11-turn circuit. However, the clash was soon suspended when Hargrove leaned hard on his Yokohama tires, making an aggressive outside pass on Eidson in The Boot on Lap 6 to take over the lead.

Eidson then found his mirrors full of Robichon. Eidson wrestled with his GT3 Cup car, the slippery track conditions and the charging Robichon until the end of Lap 11. Robichon took a shot at Eidson and made a pass coming out of the final corner onto the main straightaway to set his sights on the escaping Hargrove.

It wasn’t long until the Canadian duo of Hargrove and Robichon found themselves battling lapped traffic, which gave Robichon an opportunity to make a pass in Turn 6 on Lap 16 to get around Hargrove. Contact between the two later that lap, while navigating a lapped competitor, resulted in Robichon spinning. Robichon gathered it up quickly, falling only one spot to the second position.

Hargrove later voluntarily gave up the top spot to Robichon while the incident was under review by IMSA Race Control. The call came in for Hargrove to serve a drive-through penalty for contact with two laps remaining. That penalty dropped Hargrove to sixth overall, making way for Will Hardeman (USA, No. 19, Moorespeed/Continental Automotive Group) to take third overall behind Eidson. It is Robichon’s first win of the season in Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada competition.

In addition to the overall combined podium celebration, the two series were awarded points this weekend based on their respective series finishes. Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA’s Eidson took the top spot in the series, followed by Moorespeed teammates Hardeman and Corey Fergus (USA, No. 00, Moorespeed/US LED/Byers Imports). It was Hardeman’s second podium of the season and Fergus’ third. Fergus also has one win to his credit. It was Eidson’s fourth victory of the season.

Eidson leaves Watkins Glen with a comfortable lead over Trenton Estep in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA. Estep (USA, No. 3, JDX Racing/Hertz) was unable to start the race due to extensive damage to his car as a result of yesterday’s unfortunate events.

While Robichon collected his first win of the Canadian season, Hargrove missed the overall podium, but managed to take second-place points for his series. Rolex 24 At Daytona class winner Michael de Quesada (Canada, No. 31, Alegra Motorsports) grabbed third with a seventh-place finish overall, elevating him to third in championship points in the Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada.

Canada’s Marco Cirone (Canada, No. 88, Mark Motors Racing) is defending his 2016 Platinum Masters championship in Canada and picked up valuable points with an overall class win. David Baker (USA, No. 56, TOPP Racing/Apex Capital Corporation) entered the weekend second in Platinum Masters USA points and leaves with the lead in points with a second-place in class and top points in USA competition. Jeff Mosing (USA, No. 01, TOPP Racing/Mosing Motorcars) was unable to start the race due to yesterday’s incident, giving up his lead in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Platinum Masters championship.

Mark Kvamme (USA, No. 43, JDX Racing) also passed Mosing in the championship with his second-place finish in Platinum Masters USA points and third-place finish overall. Tom Haacker (USA, No. 80, Kelly-Moss Road and Race) was the only other USA entry reporting to the grid in the Platinum Masters class. He collected third-place points in the USA championship with a fourth-place overall in class.

Cirone’s Canadian competitors Neal Walker (Canada, No. 71, Tullman Walker Racing/Porsche Centre North Toronto) and Shaun McKaigue (Canada, No. 34, Pfaff Motorsports/FER-PAL Infrastructure) finished with second- and third-place points, respectively. McKaigue is now tied with Tim Sanderson (Canada, No. 07, DFC Motorsport/Speedstar Motorsport/Downtown Porsche) behind Cirone. Sanderson was also unable to start the event due to damage to his Porsche GT3 Cup Car.

Roman De Angelis (USA and Canada, No. 78, Mark Motors Racing) has earned every pole position and won all four races in Gold Cup in Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada leading into the weekend. In similar fashion, he dominated once again with a commanding performance and a ninth-place finish overall that secured his fourth victory in USA Gold Cup and fifth in Canadian competition. De Angelis has been running both series as part of his driver development.

De Angelis, the only full-time Canadian and USA Gold Cup entrant in the race, was followed in class by Victor Gomez IV (USA, No. 25, NGT Motorsport/Mapfre) and Fred Kaimer (USA, No. 23, NGT Motorsport/Race Deck). De Angelis now leads Gold Cup points in Canada and is second in class points in the USA series.

Next on the schedule for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama are Rounds 9 and 10 at the Continental Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Aug. 3-6. The Canadian competitors will reconvene for Rounds 7 and 8 on the streets of Toronto for the Honda Indy Grand Prix, July 14-16.

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.