Canadian teenager Jesse Lazare parried intense pressure from championship leader Colin Thompson over the closing laps to earn his first career Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama victory Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Lazare, 17, from Montreal, outran Thompson to the line by .173 of a second in the No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to win Round 10 of the season. He became the second-youngest overall winner in the 10-year history of the Porsche single-make series and the youngest Canadian driver to stand atop the podium.
"It was a long race," Lazare said. "I took out the lead early, and my plan was to get a good gap and maintain it. No mistakes, keep looking forward, and that's it - keep pushing. I love this track, been here many times. It was basically the first car track I ever raced on. I know the tricks, I know the spots to pass, and I know the spots I can get passed, and I had a great time."
|Platinum Masters podium finishers (from left): Jay Patel, Kasey Kuhlman, David Calvert-Jones|
Thompson, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, padded his points lead to 152-138 over Angel Benitez Jr. with his second runner-up finish of the weekend in the No. 14 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County entry.
Benitez, from Valencia, Venezuela, finished third in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport Porsche.Michael Lewis, from Laguna Beach, California, placed fourth in the No. 98Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian entry. Christina Nielsen, from Aarhus, Denmark, rounded out the top five in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport 911 GT3 Cup car.
Sloan Urry, the winner of Round 9 on Friday, finished eighth Saturday in the No. 20 JDX Racing entry after spinning out of fourth late in the race.
Lazare started from the pole and led every lap. He maintained a steady lead of about one second over Benitez during the first half of the 45-minute race.
|Gold Cup podium finishers (from left): Michael Levitas, Jeff Mosing, Patrick-Otto Madsen|
But Benitez started to pour on the pressure late in the race as he and Lazare started to navigate lapped traffic. Benitez pulled to within .504 of a second with 13 minutes remaining, and the reduced pace due to traffic helped Thompson and Urry pull to within one second of Lazare, forming a four-way pack for the lead with 10 minutes left.
Benitez drove up to Lazare's bumper with seven minutes remaining, trailing by just .154 of a second. But he went wide in Turn 1 with about four minutes left, opening the door to second place for Thompson.
Urry also fell out of contention for victory with less than two minutes remaining with spin into the wall with less than two minutes remaining.
|Gold Masters podium finishers (from left): Michael Levitas, Jeff Mosing, Mark Llano|
The duel for the top step of the podium heated from a simmer to a boil between Lazare and Thompson on the final lap. Thompson looked inside and outside in a few of the corners on the challenging track, but Lazare remained unflappable all the way to the checkered.
Kasey Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, was the top finisher in the Platinum Masters (age 45 and older) class for the eighth time this season in the No. 15 Wright MotorsportsPorsche. Jay Patel was second in Platinum Masters in the No. 00 Dempsey Racing Porsche owned by actor andTUDOR United SportsCar Championshipdriver Patrick Dempsey, while David Calvert-Jones rounded out the Platinum Masters podium in the No. 12 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian entry.
Jeff Mosing, from Austin, Texas, completed a sweep of the Gold Cup (2010-13 model cars) and Gold Masters divisions with his victory in the No. 01 Topp Racing entry after a spirited battle for the entire race with Michael Levitas, who ended up second in Gold Cup and Gold Masters in the No. 35 TPC Racing Porsche.
|Yokohama Hard Charger Award winner Mark Llano|
Patrick-Otto Madsen finished third in Gold Cup in the No. 99 ANSA Motorsports 911 GT3 Cup car. Mark Llano finished third in Gold Masters in the No. 24 NGT Motorsports entry, his second podium finish of the weekend and his career. Llano also won the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for finishing 18th overall after starting 26th.
Rounds 6, 11 and 12 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama will take place Aug. 9-10 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Round 6 was rained out May 24 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.
For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visitwww.gt3cupchallengeusa.com, follow hashtag #GT3USA @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
ROUND 10 POST-RACE QUOTES:
JESSE LAZARE (No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed, winner): "It was a long race. I took out the lead early, and my plan was to get a good gap and maintain it. No mistakes, keep looking forward, and that's it - keep pushing. I love this track, been here many times. It was basically the first car track I ever raced on. I know the tricks, I know the spots to pass, and I know the spots I can get passed, and I had a great time."
COLIN THOMPSON (No. 14 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County, second): "It was an unusual start, but it benefitted us. The front row was kind of all over the place, I guess head-battling each other. Angel (Benitez) took off a little more, and that, of course, was our line. Once we crossed the start-finish line, we all scattered, and I was able to grab three spots right off the bat, which is really difficult to do here and at any track, really. From there we just holding off Sloan (Urry) and hunting down Angel. There was a long stalemate in the middle of the race. Toward the end, Angel made a pretty big mistake going into (Turn) 1. He missed the apex, and I was able to scootch inside of him. From there I was just hunting down (Jesse) Lazare. I actually had no idea it was the last lap until the last two corners of the last lap. But Lazare had a really fast car. He was on his game, and he deserved that win."
ANGEL BENITEZ JR. (No. 05 Formula Motosport/Avid Motorsport, third): "I think we had a good pace at the start. Pretty much our tire pressure went too high at the end and the car started sliding on me in the last four laps. It was hard to try and keep the guys behind me. But that's racing. Sometimes you bet on something and it works out and sometimes it doesn't. We were expecting to have a longer race and that's just what happened. So we're happy to have the third place and still working for the championship."
KASEY KUHLMAN (No. 15 Wright Motorsports, first, Platinum Masters): "The Masters win feels really good today, but even more the sixth place overall. I hung with the lead pack and was closing on them in the end. I had the fastest lap of the race. It was a new lap race record for me and I'm really happy about that. The car today was awesome and I can't thank Wright Motorsports and the crew enough. It was a great weekend and I'm looking forward to Road America."
JAY PATEL (No. 00 Dempsey Racing, second, Platinum Masters): "It was a good start to the race. The team told me to stay low going into the second turn, and I stayed low and I got out in front of a couple of cars. A few got by me in (Turn) 3, but the goal was to stay focused and reel them back in. As the race progressed, that's what I did and worked on my technique and cornering ability of the car into each turn. I stuck with it and ended up here!"
DAVID CALVERT-JONES (No. 12 Competition Motorsports, third, Platinum Masters): "It was a tough race. The car was great. The guys from Competition Motorsports gave me a really good car after I crashed it badly in practice. The start was really hectic. I avoided some big contact, which was good. Two laps in, I got hit when we had that Safety Car. So I had to restart and chase them down. Caught up to the next group, I was running the same lap times as the leaders, so I was running really well and felt really comfortable in the car. I went to lay a pass on a guy going into (Turn) 2 side-by-side, and he just came down into me and spun me around. So I had to start again and chase them all down. But again a big thank you to everyone at Competition Motorsports for a great car and to Wheels Up, a great sponsor. I'm looking forward to Road America."
JEFF MOSING (No. 01 Topp Racing, first, Gold Cup, Gold Masters): "This has been a picture-perfect weekend so far. I'm really thanking my lucky stars to this point. Again I got a clean start and put some cars between me and (Michael) Levitas. There are really fast guys in this class, and I really don't want to mix it up with them. They ended up having to scruff while I just put my head down and put down good laps; that's all I did. But hats off to Todd and Paul at Topp Motorsports for getting the car upright for me."
MICHAEL LEVITAS (No. 35 TPC Racing, second, Gold Cup, Gold Masters): "Wow, what a race. Team TPC just handed me such a great car. I had so much to deliver. All I know is Patrick (-Otto Madsen) was giving me a great race, and he has been giving me great races all season long. And all the teams here, it wouldn't be any good without the great competitors. And I tell you what all I had to do was eat up the leader's time, but the Platinum guys got in the middle, and my throttle hung up. I knew (Jeff Mosing) had an issue because I saw him bobble. We were just trying to buy out each other's time off, so it was a great race."
PATRICK-OTTO MADSEN (No. 99 ANSA Motorsports, third, Gold Cup): "This weekend was especially tough for me because both Michael Levitas and Jeff Mosing both had a little more pace than I did, so I was really struggling to keep up with them. Levitas got me good, a little bump and little love tap into the sweeper there, so he got past me. But thinking championship, bringing her home in a second and third place in the weekend is pretty good, and I'm pretty happy about that. Special thanks to ANSA Motorsports and Jose Collado, my crew chief, for preparing an excellent car for me."
MARK LLANO (No. 24 NGT Motorsport, third, Gold Masters, Yokohama Hard Charger Award winner): "I have to tell you, it was an awesome morning. The competition is just insane. The car setup was just perfect, and the Yokohama tires were just like glue on the track. The more I pushed, it seemed like the more the tires were gripping. I just have to thank NGT for getting everything together and all the fans. I saw a bunch of veterans outside of Turn 5. They had an American flag and would put it in the air every time we came by. That just gave me more motivation. I'm very thankful for the series and for all those involved."
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
The IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama enters its 10th season in North America as the one of Porsche's largest single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. The series produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in one of the world's most successful and iconic race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Racing is divided into two classes - Platinum Cup, featuring the new 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based in on the current seventh generation of the street car, and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous version (2010-2013) of the race car. The series is the perfect platform for aspiring drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The series races at classic American road courses, providing thrills for drivers and fans.
The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) is the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the road-racing series resulting from the merger of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. IMSA also sanctions the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.