GT3 Cup action kicks off in Canada
GT3 Cup action kicks off in Canada
There’s one intriguing certainty surrounding the 2014 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin before the season even begins May 16-18 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
There will be no repeat champions in either the Platinum Cup or Gold Cup classes of the series, which begins its fourth season as one of nearly 20 global Porsche 911 GT3 Cup one-make championships providing thrilling action.
The Platinum Cup throne is vacant because David Ostella’s 2013 championship vaulted him into a Prototype Challenge ride with Performance Tech Motorsports in the elite IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. There will be no back-to-back champion in Gold Cup because 2013 class winner Carlos De Quesada is moving up to the Platinum Cup this season.
A fascinating mix of young and veteran drivers will race for the Platinum Cup championship during the 10 rounds at four premier Canadian road and street courses this season. Platinum Cup drivers race in the all-new 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car. Developed for Porsche one-make Cups worldwide, the car is based on the street version of the current Porsche 911, with a 3.8-liter power unit that produces 460 horsepower.
Chris Green is the top returning competitor in the Platinum Cup, driving for Ontario-based Pfaff Motorsports. Green finished second to Ostella by six points last season and won five races, including the last three of the year in a stirring charge that fell just short.
Green, 30, from Montreal, was part of the powerful Pfaff/Alegra Motorsports team that won the Platinum Cup team championship by one point and the Gold Cup team championship by four points last season. But Pfaff and Alegra are competing separately this season, creating an instant, friendly rivalry of title contenders. Pfaff is building its effort around Green, who has nine wins and 11 poles in the series over the past two seasons.
Alegra has expanded to five cars in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin in 2014, with two entries in the Platinum Cup for young star Spencer Pigot and 2013 Gold Cup champion and team owner De Quesada.
Pigot, 20, from Pasadena, California, was a late full-season addition to Alegra in 2014. He earned a victory, runner-up finish and pole in the season opener last year at CTMP before focusing on his open-wheel pursuits. He already has won four races this season in Pro Mazda open-wheel competition and is one of the brightest young talents in North American racing.
Mark Motors Racing returns its strong lineup of 2011 Platinum Cup champion Perry Bortolotti of Kanata, Ontario, and Marco Cirone of Toronto. Both drivers also figure to duel for the Platinum Masters (drivers 45 and older) title, as Cirone won that division honor in 2013.
Cirone already started his 2014 season in March at Sebring, Florida, finishing an impressive third overall in the opening round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA season during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.
2012 Platinum Cup champion J-F Laberge, from Montreal, also will contend for the championship as part of the three-car effort from Quebec-based GT Racing. His teammates are Etienne Borgeat of Montreal and Andre Belzile of Drummondville, Quebec.
Veteran Ludovico Manfredi will lead his ANSA Motorsports team with a single-car effort in its Canadian series debut.
A strong cast of drivers making “one-off” starts in the Platinum Cup also will challenge Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin regulars this weekend on the challenging, 10-turn, 2.459-mile (3.957 km) circuit at CTMP.
Young Canadian star Scott Hargrove is driving Christian Chia’s OpenRoad-6th Gear Racing entry, continuing his budding rivalry with Pigot in Porsche 911 GT3 Platinum Cup cars. Hargrove, 19, from Surrey, British Columbia, won the 2013 USF2000 Championship and also won a Pro Mazda round last weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA standout team NGT Motorsport is heading north of the border to race this weekend at CTMP with Christina Nielsen and Mark Bullitt in Platinum Cup cars.
Nielsen, from Aarhus, Denmark, is tied for sixth in the USA series in her first season of racing in North America after competing in open-wheel and Porsche series in Europe and the Middle East. Bullitt, from Miami, is a regular in the GT3 USA series.
With De Quesada’s climb to Platinum Cup, the title race is wide open for Gold Cup competitors in 2010-2013 model 911 GT3 Cup cars.
2013 Gold runner-up Tim Sanderson and 2011 Gold champion Shaun McKaigue are among the leading contenders for the Gold title this season. McKaigue, from Gilford, Ontario, is driving for 2013 Gold Cup team championship runner-up Fiorano Racing. Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, is representing Alegra Motorsports.
Other Gold competitors include returning veterans Ilker Starck of Toronto and Martin Harvey of Berthierville, Quebec, and newcomer Jerimy Daniel of Candiac, Quebec.
There will be an Alegra intra-team duel for Silver Cup honors between Masters competitors Keith Bass and Chuck Harris of Tampa, Florida. Silver Cup competitors race in 2005 ½ to 2009 911 GT3 Cup cars.
Two 45-minute races are scheduled this weekend at CTMP, Rounds 1 and 2 of the 10-round season sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). The first race will start at 3:10 p.m. (ET) Saturday, with the second race at 11:45 a.m. Sunday. Practice will start at 11:10 a.m. Friday, followed by qualifying at 3:20 p.m.