DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 9, 2015) – Reigning Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin Silver Cup champion Chuck Harris is taking a leap up to Platinum Cup competition entering the 2015 season.
Harris, from Tampa, Florida, will stay with Tampa-based Alegra Motorsports for his his second season in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Single-Make Series. He will race in the Platinum Masters class in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
“When I looked at going to the Gold or Platinum car, I found a Platinum car, and it just seemed to make more sense and maybe provide a longer-term pathway,” Harris said. “Plus I have the ability to race wheel-to-wheel with the guys in the Platinum class.”
Harris won in nine of his 10 starts last season in the Silver Cup class, which consisted of 2005 ½ to 2009 GT3 Cup cars. Platinum Cup is for 2014 and 2015 models.
Silver Cup was an intra-team duel among friends last season, as Harris and Alegra teammate Keith Bass were the main competitors.
Harris and Bass share a unique friendship. The two own homes just two doors from each other in Tampa, and their children attend school together. Harris and Bass found out they were neighbors after meeting at a track day at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“At the time I met Keith, I was driving an old vintage Porsche 911 and he was driving a Ferrari,” Harris said. “(Alegra Motorsports team owner) Carlos de Quesada had been telling me how much fun they were having up in Canada, so after two or three years of club racing, it seemed like a good, comfortable step to the next level of racing. As soon as I decided, I asked Keith, and he immediately said yes.”
Born in Germany, Harris enjoys traveling away from the Florida heat during the summer months to race in Canada.
“As I looked at it more and more, the opportunity to see some of the classic, historic tracks like Mosport, as well as the road courses, was really appealing,” Harris said. “The camaraderie is also very attractive. It’s not just within the team. We have a great team within the team, but across the teams everyone has been very welcoming, friendly and helpful in the paddock. It’s just a nice, friendly environment.”
That warm welcome helped Harris flourish as a rookie in the championship despite a lack of experience in modern machinery. He fell just two points short of a perfect season, ending with 198 points.
“It was my first year driving a modern Porsche race car,” Harris said. “I’ve done a lot of vintage racing, and the amazing thing is that there are a lot of similarities as I went from the old Porsche 911s to the new ones. When you sit in the car, it’s the same lineage, you can feel it and sense it, but the car is erratically different. To go from the early 70s to the technology now – it’s amazing to see how much further the car has come and how the brakes, driving and everything is so advanced.”
All four tracks – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Calabogie Motorsports Park, the streets of Toronto and the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières — on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin circuit were new to Harris in 2014, making his learning curve steep.
Circuit knowledge will be a big plus this season for Harris. But he also knows the competition within Platinum Masters is tough, challenging drivers such as his Alegra team boss, Carlos de Quesada, and two-time reigning Platinum Masters champion Marco Cirone.
“This year it will be fun to go back and build on last year,” Harris said. “I had the Platinum car out testing for a couple of days, and it’s really a step forward from the Silver cars. It’s really fun to drive, so building on the experience in the new car and getting fine-tuned in terms of the Platinum car will take some effort.
“As I go from Silver to Platinum, the competition will be much more intense, and my objective is really to improve week-to-week and drive competitively with the group from a Masters competition point of view.”
The 2015 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series starts on Victoria Day Weekend, May 15-17, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.
For updates on the series, follow @IMSA on Twitter with the hashtag #GT3CAN and on Facebook. The latest news can be found by visiting IMSA.com.