The Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsport race team and its top driver, Daniel Morad, had an incredible weekend in Toronto.
Set to compete as part of the Indy Toronto program, the team was racing in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin race series.
Two practice sessions, held Friday, allowed Morad to discover the race track. While he has been attending the Indy Toronto for twenty years, this weekend was his first opportunity to compete and drive on what can be considered his home track.
“The track is challenging and is very demanding for the driver,” said Morad. “It is a unique environment. This temporary road circuit set on Toronto’s streets offers a very narrow racetrack with concrete walls right at the edge on both sides. Getting the most out of the car and the track means being within millimetres of the wall at places.”
Qualifications, held early Saturday morning on a very cold track, went well for the Thornhill native. Scott Hargrove grabbed first position, Chris Green second and Daniel Morad third out of a field of 15 cars.
This qualification session is important as its results determined the starting order of both GT3 Cup races held this Toronto weekend.
Daniel was quite happy with this result, considering he was cautious in order to preserve his tires for the race. His best time in qualification was 1:13.260, while both Scott (at 1:12.300) and Chris (at 1:13.039) were a lot harder on tires.
As tires are limited and the same set needs to also be used in the race, managing tire wear is paramount in this series.
The race is on
The first GT3 Cup race of the weekend was held Saturday at lunchtime.
Morad had a textbook perfect start, grabbing the second position right at turn one. Polesitter, Hargrove and Morad drove away from the field opening up a substantial gap in the first 4 laps of the race. From lap 4 onward, Morad was forced into nursing a technical problem which put him into the grasps of series leader Chris Green. He managed to hold Green off for a few consecutive laps before giving in and letting Green go 10 laps into the race.
Unfortunately, disaster struck on lap 11.
Mark Motors team’s Marco Cirone thought he had a chance to pass Morad’s Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsport racecar, but overshot the turn and both cars ended up colliding.
This unfortunate incident resulted in a suspension failure on Morad’s car. He managed to bring the car back to the pits, however his race was over.
A few laps later, disaster struck again for the team as Morad’s teammate, Michael De Quesada’s, number 24 car was involved in another incident.
All was not lost as Tim Sanderson, racing with Morad as part of Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsport, was able to grab third place at the wheel of car number 7.
As soon as this race was over, the team went to work on car number 22 so Morad could count on a “like new” race car for the second race, which was to be held Sunday.
The broken suspension part was replaced and all adjoining parts were triple-checked to make sure they were in perfect condition.
Unfortunately the same could not be said of car 24 as it was deemed totaled by Chief Mechanic Tony Ditto. The structure of the car has been compromised in the hit, meaning the vehicle can’t be repaired safely. The weekend was over for Michael De Quesada.
With the four remaining Porsche GT3 Cup team cars now ready for the second race, team Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsport closed shop for the night and looked forward to a better tomorrow.
Shining in the rain
Sunday brought the second Porsche GT3 Cup race of this Toronto Indy weekend and rain was part of the program.
Starting third on the grid, Morad ended up fourth after the first turn. He drove the first lap cautiously, getting a feel for his car’s limits and learning where the puddles were.
From the second lap onwards, he fought for third position and quickly managed to pass Marco Cirone, choosing the concrete-covered inside line of turn one, keeping the Porsche under control on the slippery surface.
He then set his sight on Chris Green, passing him a few laps later.
Clearly, his worries before the race about not knowing how this car behaves in rainy circumstances were set aside as Morad grew confident in his team Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsport prepped Porsche’s GT3 abilities.
Now in second position, Morad worked on closing the gap between the race leader Scott Hargrove.
Morad managed the feat of closing the gap with Hargrove, finding himself on Hargrove’s bumper by half-race and passing him the same way he did for Green, taking the inside line and mastering the car on slippery concrete to take the lead.
Morad then sailed to the finish while continuing to widen the gap between him and his opponents, ending up with a 4.184-second victory.
His first reaction as he passed the checkered flag was to thank his team for giving him a perfect car saying "This car was magic...thank-you."
Hargrove finished second and Green third.
“I had not raced in the wet since 2008,” said Morad following his win. “I took a lap to be comfortable with the car, learning where the puddles were and then just went for it. The section of the track on Lakeshore road was tricky as you could barely see in front of you but the team gave me a beautiful car to drive. It was one of those races where you just don’t want it to end.”
How fast was Morad? His fastest lap was 1:25.494 seconds, almost two seconds faster than Scott Hargrove, who set a fastest lap of 1:27.371 seconds.
The outcome of this Toronto Indy race weekend could not have been better scripted!
Teammate Tim Sanderson finished seventh.
This first win of the season allows Morad to hang onto his third place in the chamionship with a total of 59 points, behind Cirone (62 points) and series leader Green (74 points). Tim Sanderson, also with Alegra/Porsche Centre Oakville Motorsport is fourth with 52 points.
The next two races will be held at the Calabogie Motorsports Park in Ontario July 4 and 5, 2015.
Gallery from the weekend
Date Posted: June 17, 2015