Nothing is easy about driving in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series.Let's start with the Cup Car. Compare driving a GT3 Cup Car to the bigger, more powerful GT3 R that our team ran with last year as they took the checkered flag at the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona the Cup Car is a far more challenging beast to pilot. It lacks ABS, has less aero and a narrower stance. All these things make driving a Cup Car quickly more demanding as small mistakes are exaggerated and reveal the drivers' true talents or deficits.
And of course, it's not just the car that’s challenging. Where you race that car ups-the-ante. Certain tracks are more demanding than others. Take a track like the venerable circuit at Sebring, a 3.7-mile ex-marine airfield made of asphalt and cracked concrete (cracks so large that it would make a great topographic map). Those imperfections make it one of the most gruelling tracks in North America.
So a Cup Car racing at Sebring is challenging. What else you got?
OK, let's add in a field of over 30 Porsche Cup Cars, all piloted by experienced and competitive drivers.
Cup Car, Sebring, 30+ cars on the track…yep…that’s a challenge.
So we know it’s a pretty tough scenario. Now...let's add one more element to this story. Imagine that you’ve never raced in a Porsche GT3 Cup Car, and while you have driven other sports cars or open wheel cars, this was your first outing in a Porsche.
Welcome to the scenario that faced our Policaro Motorsport team this past weekend at the opening race for the Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama held in Sebring, Florida.
Before we get into the meat of the race weekend, let's meet our drivers.
For 2018 we welcome a familiar face and a new one. Driving the number 16 car is Jeff Kingsley. This is Jeff's second year with Policaro Motorsport, having competed in the Canadian Touring Car Championship last year. While he may be familiar behind the wheel of a sports car, this is his first year behind the wheel of a Cup Car.
New to the team this year is number 35, Nelson Mason. Nelson is no stranger to motorsport having raced at elite levels of motorsport including Formula 3, GP3 and World Series V8. Much like his teammate, this is his first year behind the wheel of a Cup Car.
It Starts - Sebring Race #1
Our fresh from the factory GT3 Cup Cars, liveried only a few days before the race, made their way to sunny Florida to take on the inaugural race of the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA.
Sebring brought perfect weather conditions for the first race of the season and the team set about setting up the cars, making the most of the sessions before qualifying. During the official qualifying session, Jeff Kingsley managed to secure a P4 start in his class with a lap time of 02:06.094. Qualifying was somewhat more challenging for Nelson as there was an incident with one of the other cars on track that cut short his qualifying session time. He would have to settle for a P6 start position.
With the drop of the green flag, race 1 saw both drivers make the first turn cleanly (which cannot be said of all competitors). About 30 mins into the 45-minute race, Jeff and Nelson were still mid-pack looking for opportunities to advance. Unfortunately, on the famous turn 17, the number 35 car had a tire valve failure which sent Nelson into the wall — his race was over. Jeff continued the fight and would cross the finish line in 6th place in the Canadian series.
There was a feeling of disappointment in the air, but the good news was the damage to Nelson’s car was repairable. The crew got to work making the repairs overnight. We’d live to fight another day.
Race 2 - Redemption
With repairs complete, the team took to the grid and prepared to do battle for race 2. The green flag dropped once again, and the roar of 30+ flat sixes came to life.
Over the course of the race, Nelson found himself fighting for third in the Canadian series and fourth overall. Jeff would find himself in the thick of it only a few spots back.
As the 45-minute race wore on, both Jeff and Nelson kept pace with the field and looked for opportunities to advance. The race clock counted down, the white flag dropped indicating the final lap of the race. Now...if you watched any of the race, the final two minutes were the only ones that really mattered. The two leaders found themselves in a furious battle for first and Nelson had a front row ticket to the spectacle unfolding in front of him. At the final turn, the two leaders pushed just a little too hard and both Cup Cars spun hitting the wall. Nelson sailed to a third place overall victory and a second place victory for the Canadian series!
Our first podium for the 2018 Policaro Motorsport season!
It was a great opening weekend for the fledgling team. This weekend showed our heart, determination and grit.
Next, we'll be ready to take on the opening race in Canada on May 21st at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. See you there!
Date Posted: March 20, 2018