Many of North America’s top GT Production sports car drivers and teams head to the “Great White North” this weekend (May 18-20) when the Pirelli World Challenge GT and GTS series participates in the always-popular Castrol presents Victoria Day Speedfest at the historic Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Now in its 29th season, the Pirelli World Challenge brings some of the most exotic machinery from around the world with the likes of Audi, Bentley, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Ford, Ginetta, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Panoz, Porsche and SIN Cars in a doubleheader Sprint races (50 minutes) weekend over the fast and demanding 2.459-mile, 10-turn permanent road circuit northeast of Toronto.
Great driving talent comes to CTMP as well with world-class drivers set to battle on Saturday and Sunday contests that include Canadian racing stars Scott Hargrove and Daniel Morad, as well as international competitors like Alvaro Parente, Toni Vilander, Michael Christensen and Daniel Mancinelli. Plus, future sports car contenders such as Rodrigo Baptista, Parker Chase and Yuki Harata will be on hand this weekend.
GT/GTA – Canadian Hargrove Leads GT stars with his Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R
Hargrove, from Tsawwassen, British Columbia, Canada, currently holds the GT Overall and GT Sprint point lead with his Toronto-based No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R after two street wins at St. Petersburg and podium finishes at COTA and VIR. The 23-year-old holds a GT Overall 155-145 point lead over two-time 24 Hours of LeMans champion Vilander of Finland in the Toronto-based R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3. In addition, Scott paces the GT Sprint points over Vilander, 70-58, entering CTMP.
Another Canadian by way of Toronto, Morad holds down the third position in both GT Overall and Sprint championships currently in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 and figures to be a fan favorite at CTMP. Morad, like Hargrove, is a former Canadian Porsche Cup champion.
Leading the strong list of challengers for the top-three in the GT division this weekend will include 2016 GT champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal, a 10-race winner in PWC the past two seasons. Parente will drive the potent No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 for K-PAX Racing. After driving rear-engine cars for six years, Parente has moved to the front-engined Bentley and scored a podium finish on the streets of Long Beach.
Recent Long Beach GT winner Daniel Mancinelli of Italy returns this weekend in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3; the personable Italian was outstanding in 2017 in his PWC “rookie” season with three GT SprintX victories.
Denmark’s Michael Christensen comes to CTMP with another stellar machine, the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
After a year-long absence from the Pirelli World Challenge, the 2016 GTA champion returns to the class as Mexico City’s popular Martin Fuentes drives the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3. Fuentes has already recorded five wins this year in the GTA category and looks for more on Saturday and Sunday in the two 50-minute contests.
Battling Fuentes will be Rodrigo Baptista of Brazil in the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 and 17-year-old high schooler Parker Chase of New Braunfels, Texas, in the No. 19 TruSpeed Autosport Audi R8 LMS. Baptista, Parente’s K-PAX Racing teammate, recently captured the overall GT race win at VIR last month. Chase, a series GTS contender last year at age 16, has been a regular on the podium already this year. Parker has been busy this week with high school exams and preparing for the CTMP doubleheader weekend.
Last year’s GT Cup champion Yuki Harata of Japan moved up to GTA this year with the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and won his class at Long Beach last month.
GTS/GTSA – Solid 24-car GTS field is led by Aschenbach, Sofronas, James and Buford
Leading the GTS division at CTMP is defending series champion Lawson Aschenbach for the Blackdog Speed Shop team with the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. Aschenbach was impressive earlier this year at St. Petersburg and holds the qualifying track record at CTMP.
Aschenbach, a five-time PWC series champion, will be challenged by last year’s GTA and GT SprintX Pro-Am champion James Sofronas as the veteran racer brings his No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 to CTMP after GTS wins at COTA and VIR.
Other top contenders at CTMP will be six-time 2017 GTS race winner Ian James in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT as well as two-time 2017 CTMP race winner Jake Buford in the No. 55 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4.
Eighteen-year-old star Harry Gottsacker has moved into the potent No. 69 Racer’s Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4, and the recently-awarded Eagle Scout has shown speed in 2018 with a pole position and one second-place finish. Gottsacker’s SIN R1 won two GTS races last year at CTMP.
One team to watch in GTS at CTMP is the Michigan-based Robinson Racing with former Trans-Am stars Gar Robinson of San Antonio and Shane Lewis in the No. 72 and No. 74 Robinson Racing 74 Ranch Mercedes AMG GT4s. Both are expected to be in the mix for victory at CTMP.
The GTSA division is a strong field led by George Kurtz, the nine-time 2017 GTSA race winner back with the No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG Audi R8 LMS. Kurtz was impressive with seven consecutive class wins last year.
Jason Bell returns to GTSA action with the No. 2 M1GT Audi R8 LMS GT4 after scoring a victory at VIR last year in his rookie campaign in the Pirelli World Challenge.
Other 2016 GTSA class winners back for 2018 include veterans Tony Gaples in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R and Mark Klenin in the No. 62 Premiere Copier/KPR McLaren 570S.
Two-time race winner Drew Staveley of Salt Lake City, Utah, is expected to in the mix for the GTSA victory this weekend in his No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55. Staveley nearly won two other races this year.
Other GTSA contenders for the CTMP doubleheader races include veteran driver Adam Merzon in the No. 23 Case●It Racing by Flying Lizard Audi R8 LMS; JR Pesek in the No. 10 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4; Orey Fidani of Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada in the No. 13 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR; Frank Gannett in the No. 24 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; James Pesek in the No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4; Steve Burns in the No. 43 VP Fuels/Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55; veteran racer Mike Hedlund in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS; Former GT Cup and GT SprintX winner Preston Calvert in the No. 51 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezanno GT; Mark Pavan of Toronto, Ontario, in the No. 54 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1; Fred Roberts of Toronto, Ontario, in the No. 89 JCR Motorsports Maserati Grand Turismo GT4; multi-time pole winner Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati Grand Turismo GT4 and Andrew Danyliw of Toronto, Ontario, in the No. 138 Policaro Motorsport/SportsCar Boutique Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
Victoria Day Speedfest, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, 2.459-mile, 10-turn permanent road circuit
Saturday, May 19
9:20 AM – 9:40 AM, GT/GTA Qualifying
10:40 AM – 11:00 AM, GTS/GTSA Qualifying
50 minutes (GT/GTA, GTS/GTSA)
Live Internet Telecast (on world-challenge.com) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Broadcast:
Saturday, May 19
1:55 PM – 2:45 PM GT/GTA Race # 1
4:10 PM– 5:00 PM GTS/GTSA Race #1
Sunday, May 19
10:05 AM – 10:55 AM GTS/GTSA Race # 2
4:05 PM– 4:55 PM GT/GTA Race # 2