This long weekend marked the third race weekend in the Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama. It can only be described as wild. (Honestly, we haven’t seen this much metal since the last time we saw Metallica live.)
The weather at The Glen was just as unpredictable as the racing. It seemed to operate in its own climate zone. At one moment the dark skies would start to spit, and then, all of a sudden, the clouds would open up and let the sun shine down, giving racers and fans hope that the perfect race conditions had arrived, only to have those hopes dashed as blustery winds picked back up.
The ever changing weather notwithstanding, the Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsport team came prepared to do battle. This was the second meeting of the Canadian and US GT3 Cup Challenge series—the first being at the Canadian Grand-Prix just a few weeks earlier. That weekend saw a number of incidents on the track and Canadian drivers holding their own against their American counter parts. This weekend appeared to be a replay, only the carnage was more severe. As they say, everything is larger in the US.
On a patriotic note our Canadian racers did the country proud this Canada Day weekend as they convincingly dominated the field, securing top positions in both races. The skill and sportsmanship of the Canadian contingent was the icing on the cake.
The storm before the calm
Daniel Morad got the team off to a great start having secured pole position for both races, besting his arch nemesis Scott Hargrove by 0.300ths of a second in the qualifying sessions. This would be the first time Morad secured pole position since joining the GT3 Cup Challenge series last year.
“It’s a different feeling,” Morad said. “I’m used to chasing the other guy. Now I’m the rabbit!”
Of course this is racing and with 45-minute schedules for each race, anything can happen.
The first lap of race one was thrilling as always. The sight and sound of 38 GT3s charging into turn one never gets old, and with the long straightaway at Watkins Glen, they have some runway to show off. Morad got off to a good start and lead the field with the pack chasing his proverbial rabbit. Successfully completing the first lap, the group thundered into turn one to take on lap number two—this time, however, it wouldn’t go so smoothly.
A number of cars collided mid field, creating chaos. Michael de Quesada managed to negotiate most of the mayhem until the nose of his GT3 clipped another car causing damage to his radiator. He charged on, continuing to drive his cup car in an effort to keep going. Engineer Bob Knox was in contact with de Quesada from the pits over the radio. As de Quesada made his way around the track, the engine temperature continued to rise. Eventually, Knox instructed him to return to the pits. As the car returned, you could see water leaking from the nose. It was clear the day was over.
After the debris was cleared from the accident that removed young de Quesada and a number of other challengers from competition, the race continued under the green flag…if only for a short time. Almost immediately, there was another incident. This time it was more severe, with driver Kurt Fazekas having to be airlifted to hospital (we are glad to report that the driver was admitted in stable condition). This caused a lengthy delay as the field was forced to return to the pits and wait as crew cleared the debris.
Once the green flag was dropped again, there were only a few minutes of racing left. Hargrove made a valiant effort to past Morad, but number 17 managed to defend its position and take the checkered flag.
Day two – The calm after the storm
Day two’s race was to be held bright and early at 9:00 am. The team was at the track early preparing the GT3s for their next battle. Michael de Quesada’s car had been repaired overnight (it’s always amazing to see the repairs they’re able to make with their limited tools).
With all the devastation from the previous day’s race, fans weren’t sure what to expect. This race, however, would begin a little differently. As opposed to starting out as one large group of 38, the start of race two was a staggered. The newer Platinum Class cars saw the green flag and take the first lap. Once they concluded that first lap, the 997s in the Gold Class took to the field. This resulted in a much cleaner race than the previous day.
Morad, again in pole position, had a solid start, managing to create a good sized gap between himself and Hargrove; however, an incident occurred, causing a yellow flag that allowed Hargrove to close the gap. When the green flag dropped again the two leaders were glued together. This was racing at its best. Suddenly, as the racers split some slower cars, they came together and made contact, allowing Hargrove to edge by Morad.
"After the contact, there was some damage to the front end suspension,” said Morad. “I don’t know exactly what it was, but it slowed my car.”
After the pass, Hargrove made some distance, and the race wore on until another yellow flag appeared. This might have been an opportunity for Morad to close the gap and take on his competitor one more time, but, unfortunately, the race would end under the yellow flag and Morad would settle for a second place finish.
De Quesada managed to avoid catastrophe and complete his second race, though he was forced to navigate a few collisions as they unfolded. He finished in second place.
Tim Sanderson and Carlos de Quesada also made it out in one piece, adding to the points total for the Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville team.
As quickly as the weather changes at The Glen the third race weekend had come to a close. The weekend was a great success with our squad going home with a number of trophies and points.
Moreover, running in the American series was thrilling. Having so many competitors in the track made for very exciting racing. The sight of the brightly coloured liveries and the throngs of fans give the weekend a carnival feeling. We hope to see more of this type of racing in the future.
For now, it’s back to Canada and the Canadian series. We’ll be taking on the Toronto Indy next. Here’s a reminder of how that race went for the team last year.
Date Posted: July 4, 2016