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Hargrove, Cirone, Sanderson, Harris Clinch Titles In Season Finale
Posted by: newsla on Sep 01, 2014 - 07:19 AM
Sports Cars
Hargrove, Cirone, Sanderson, Harris Clinch Titles In Season Finale


Scott Hargrove, Marco Cirone, Tim Sanderson and Chuck Harris clinched Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin season championships Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

 

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Hargrove, Cirone and Harris only needed to start the 45-minute race to wear the crown in Platinum Cup (2014 car models), Platinum Masters (drivers 45 and older) and Silver Cup (2005½-09 car models), respectively. But they instead won season championships in style, winning the race in their respective classes.

Sanderson entered Round 10 Sunday with a four-point lead over Jerimy Daniel and finished second in the class in the race, all he needed to win the title by two points.

"It's a phenomenal feeling," Hargrove said. "I can't thank the guys enough. Michelin tires, IMSA, Porsche, everybody that helps put this series together. I'm proud to be the champion in only my rookie year. I can't wait to see where this goes."

Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, led from start to finish for the second consecutive day for his sixth victory of the season in the No. 69 OpenRoad Racing Porsche. He won by 14.541 seconds over Spencer Pigot in the No. 21 Alegra Motorsports entry, his largest margin of victory this season and the second-biggest winning gap of the season by any driver.

Pigot, from Orlando, Florida, passed Chris Green for second place on the first lap and held that position for the rest of the race. Green, from Montreal, ended up third in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche, 20.106 seconds behind Hargrove on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile (3.957 km) circuit.

Cirone, from Toronto, finished fourth overall and first in Platinum Masters in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. He dueled with fellow Platinum competitor Etienne Borgeat early in the race before passing Borgeat's No. 2 GT Racing Porsche with an inside move in Turn 10 with 29 minutes remaining and then pulling away.

Borgeat, from Montreal, ended up fifth overall.

Hargrove ended the season winning the championship by 22 points over Green, 192-170. It was title of equal parts surprise and assuredness.

OpenRoad Racing team principal Christian Chia entered junior open-wheel standout Hargrove, 19, into the season opener in mid-May on Victoria Day weekend at CTMP as a one-off experiment. Hargrove rewarded that faith with two victories that weekend.

So Chia continued to put young star Hargrove into his car at every event until the ultimate finish line - a championship - was reached. Hargrove never finished lower than second all season.

"Going into the beginning of the year, I never would have expected this as the outcome," Hargrove said. "When I got the deal with OpenRoad Racing, the team owner (Chia) was like: 'If we could get on the podium, that would be great. I want a trophy for my new Porsche dealership.' And now here we are, we've got the championship trophy that will be able to go there."

The victory also helped ease the sting of disappointment from a week ago. Hargrove lost the Pro Mazda Championship to Pigot when the gearbox failed in his car with three laps remaining while leading the championship and the season-ending race.

"I put that behind me," Hargrove said. "This is a different championship, and now this is the highlight of my year. I've just got to move on from what happened last weekend and just cherish what we did this year in both series. I'm just excited to be here and the champion."

OpenRoad Racing won the Team Championship.

Platinum Masters

Cirone also swept the season-ending weekend, earning his sixth Platinum Masters victory and his second consecutive title in the class.

He was a steamroller for the second straight day, winning by 28.012 seconds over his closest competitor in the class, Carlos de Quesada of Odessa, Florida.

Cirone started the season with four Platinum Masters victories in the first five races. But then de Quesada ignited in his No. 22 Alegra Motorsports Porsche, winning three consecutive races and pulling to within eight points of Cirone entering this weekend.

But Cirone left no question marks about his intent to win a second straight championship since joining Mark Motors in 2013. He ended up with 188-176 gap over de Quesada in the standings.

"I am so happy, and the team just did an incredible job," Cirone said. "I am so grateful to Mark Motors and my driving partner, Perry Bortolotti. If it wasn't for him, he put all this thing together, and I am grateful to him and Mark Motors, and I am looking forward to another season!"

Perry Bortolotti, from Kanata, Ontario, finished third Sunday in the No. 84 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. 2011 Platinum Cup champion Bortolotti rallied from a heavy, race-ending crash Saturday to earn his eighth podium finish of the season after his crew worked deep into the night to repair his 911 GT3 Cup car.

Gold Cup

Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, closed the deal on his first Gold Cup championship by finishing .531 of a second behind Daniel.

That was enough to secure a two-point advantage, 178-176, in the final standings. Sanderson finished second in the Gold Cup standings last season, just four points behind de Quesada. So this title provided sweet satisfaction.

"Last year we were just a couple of points short of the championship, and I will honestly say this feels a little better," Sanderson said with a wry smile. "I'm just happy to get over the finish line in one piece, and my hat's off to everybody else in the Gold class. It was a great season. The competition was amazing. Our Joanne's House car ran awesome, and I'm just happy."

Sanderson passed Daniel early in the race for the Gold class lead, building a margin of 1.523 seconds in his No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports Porsche after four laps. But Daniel, from Candiac, Quebec, rallied within a few laps to pull to within two car lengths of Sanderson.

The two title protagonists then locked in a taut duel for the next five minutes, with the gap never more than two-tenths of a second. Finally, Daniel thrust his No. 75 TRC Porsche under Sanderson in the fast, fearsome Turn 1 at CTMP for the Gold lead with 28 minutes left.

Daniel then stretched his lead to 1.583 seconds after just one lap, and Ilker Starck became Sanderson's main concern. Starck was only 1.667 seconds behind Sanderson in the No. 48 SCB Racing/Downtown Porsche entry. If he passed Sanderson and ended up second behind Daniel, Sanderson and Daniel would have ended up tied in the final points, with Daniel claiming the tiebreaker on more victories.

So Sanderson managed his tires, kept his cool and gradually eased away from Starck's threat. He also managed to close the gap to Daniel over the closing laps, guaranteeing his championship.

"Ilker was in my mirrors the whole way," Sanderson said. "Jerimy got past me, had problems with his car late in the race, and we got the points we needed today. It was a great race."

Starck, from Toronto, earned his second third-place finish of the weekend and his fifth podium finish of the season.

Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports won the Team Championship.

Silver Cup

Chuck Harris cruised to his ninth victory in 10 rounds this season in the No. 50 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.

Harris, from Tampa, Florida, won the Silver Cup championship by 16 points over Tampa neighbor and good friend Keith Bass.

"It was a great year," Harris said. "I had a great time, learned a lot and ran a lot faster this outing here than I did the last one. The car got better and better, and I got better and better with it. So I was really happy with the season, the race today and everything that Porsche, Michelin and IMSA do to put on this series."

Bass finished second Sunday in the No. 49 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.

For more information on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, visit www.imsa.com and @IMSA on Twitter with the hashtag #GT3CAN. Live commentary for races is provided on Twitter at @IMSALive.

ROUND 10 POST-RACE QUOTES:

SCOTT HARGROVE (No. 69 OpenRoad Racing, winner, 2014 Platinum Cup champion): "Going into the beginning of the year, I never would have expected this as the outcome. When I got the deal with OpenRoad Racing, the team owner (Christian Chia) was like: 'If we could get on the podium, that would be great. I want a trophy for my new Porsche dealership.' And now here we are, we've got the championship trophy that will be able to go there. It's a phenomenal feeling. I can't thank the guys enough. Michelin tires, IMSA, Porsche, everybody that helps put this series together. I'm proud to be the champion in only my rookie year. I can't wait to see where this goes." (About winning title one week after losing Pro Mazda Championship due to mechanical failure with three laps remaining): "I put that behind me. This is a different championship, and now this is the highlight of my year. I've just got to move on from what happened last weekend and just cherish what we did this year in both series. I'm just excited to be here and the champion."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Alegra Motorsports, second): "I had a lot of fun. First of all, Alegra Motorsports, the guys have been great to me all year, and big thanks to them. Scott (Hargrove) and Chris (Green) are really quick drivers. We had some good battles this year, and it was a lot of fun. I'm sure we'll be racing against each other in the future." (About today's race): "The car felt OK. We just struggled after the first few laps with grip but definitely made some improvements from yesterday and one spot further up the podium."

CHRIS GREEN (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports, third): "Very, very steep learning curve this year, and I'm so proud of the Pfaff Motorsports guys for putting together the program on such short notice and taking everything on for our own team. It was a first-year effort, and I think the results showed. We're still trying to find the sweet spot with the car. Today definitely wasn't the day. It definitely was one of the hairier cars I've ever driven in my career. Definitely just kind of holding on for my life more than anything, quite literally. But definitely a huge shout-out to the Pfaff Motorsports guys, the Pfaff Automotive partners, Castrol Canada for their support, BASF. I wouldn't have been able to do it without them this year. My competitors have been fantastic. Between Spencer and the other kid, Scott, they definitely got me pushing harder this year than ever before. I think it's been the most competitive series we've had so far. Good job to them. The top three among everybody else who has competed this year."

MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, first, Platinum Masters, 2014 Platinum Masters champion): "I am so happy, and the team just did an incredible job. This is our second (Platinum) Masters championship, and I couldn't be happier. The team did an incredible job, and I am so grateful to Mark Motors and my driving partner, Perry Bortolotti. If it wasn't for him, he put all this thing together, and I am grateful to him and Mark Motors, and I am looking forward to another season!"

CARLOS DE QUESADA (No. 22 Alegra Motorsports, second, Platinum Masters): "It was great. We had no incidents. Yesterday I got hit twice, where Perry (Bortolotti) got into me. Fortunately, we weren't held up by any of the Gold class cars. So we just took off, and I was separated from everyone else. So it was a good race."

PERRY BORTOLOTTI (No. 84 Mark Motors Racing, third, Platinum Masters): "Considering the guys worked all night to put the car back together, and I don't know how many other teams could have done that - these guys are amazing! All things considered, with the severe damage we had, the car ran well."

JERIMY DANIEL (No. 75 TRC, first, Gold Cup): "Overall, I think I did great. For sure, my goal was to win the championship. It didn't happen because of a little incident. Overall, I'm pretty happy. Six wins and a second place (in championship), two points from first, is OK for me. I knew I had this championship yesterday, and something happened with another driver. He took me out. I don't know what else to say." (About his rookie season): "I learned a lot, for sure. It was my first season in a sports car. It's a great series, a great car. It's really fun to drive. It's like a video game. Lots of good battles."

TIM SANDERSON (No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports, second, Gold Cup, 2014 Gold Cup champion): "Last year we were just a couple of points short of the championship, and I will honestly say this feels a little better. We had a great race. Ilker was in my mirrors the whole way. Jerimy got past me, had problems with his car late in the race, and we got the points we needed today. It was a great race. I'm just happy to get over the finish line in one piece, and my hat's off to everybody else in the Gold class. It was a great season. The competition was amazing. Our Joanne's House car ran awesome, and I'm just happy."

ILKER STARCK (No. 48 SCB Racing/Downtown Porsche, third, Gold Cup): "It's good. We finished on the podium. I tried so hard to gain positions. It's just how it is, right? I'm happy I brought the car home in one piece. We did a great job all season long with limited resources. I'm really happy. Thanks again to my team. They did a fantastic job ... and all the support I got from my wife and family and friends."

CHUCK HARRIS (No. 50 Alegra Motorsports, first, Silver Cup, 2014 Silver Cup champion): "It was a great year. I had a great time, learned a lot and ran a lot faster this outing here than I did the last one. The car got better and better, and I got better and better with it. A great run today. The track was much better than it was yesterday. So I was really happy with the season, the race today and everything that Porsche, Michelin and IMSA do to put on this series."

KEITH BASS (No. 49 Alegra Motorsports, second, Silver Cup): "I had a great season. I really enjoyed my time, and hopefully we will come back next year with a little more competitive game. I learned car a lot and certainly all the tracks. It was my first time in the Porsche, and I really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to having a great party with all my competitors tonight."

Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin

The IMSA Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin 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. The series is one of Porsche's global single-make Cup Challenge series and is the perfect platform for aspiring drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The 10-round series races in 2014 at four classic Canadian road and street courses, providing thrills for drivers and fans.


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