With heavy fog and light rain looming over Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), Zach Robichon overcame the elements to take the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama victory on Saturday afternoon.
Starting in the pole position proved to be crucial for Robichon, who opened a gap over the rest of the field immediately after the green flag flew on the 45-minute sprint race. The win marks Robichon’s second in a row at CTMP – he won the 2017 season finale at the circuit back in September – and third consecutive win to start the season.
“At the beginning, the track was relatively wet and then it dried up, so it really became a race of tire management,” said Robichon. “Luckily, the Mark Motors Racing crew did a fantastic job to get my car ready to go. At the end, we were nursing a little bit of blisters on the left front, just trying to get to the end.
“It’s a good start to the year. It’s still very early days, there’s still nine rounds to go, so it’s still early on in the year and we’re going to look to keep this momentum going. And of course, we’ve got another race tomorrow to turn around and get ready for.”
Robichon’s teammate Roman De Angelis in the No. 78 Mark Motors Porsche started the race in third position, but jumped a spot early and held on to finish in the runner-up spot. De Angelis also took home the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for gaining the most positions during the race.
However, De Angelis was pressured heavily for second place by Remo Ruscitti in the No. 96 for OpenRoad Racing, with the two Porsches battling constantly throughout the first 30 minutes of the race. Two late-race spins by Ruscitti, though, landed him in the grass twice and out of contention for a podium spot, ultimately finishing fourth.
Taking the third spot on the podium, however, was rookie Stefan Rzadzinski in the No. 8 DFC Motorsport / Speedstar Motorsport Porsche.
“I’m new to the series this year, so there’s a lot to learn about the car and I’m trying to get more out of myself every time I’m in the car,” Rzadzinski said before the race. “I’m still learning a lot, still piecing it together, but hopefully at the end of the day, it works out pretty well.”
Which it did for Rzadzinski on Saturday.
Taking the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada Platinum Masters victory was Perry Bortolotti in the No. 84 Mark Motors Porsche. In his first race of the season, Bortolotti recovered from an early spin to take the victory over his fellow Masters competitors.
“It was pretty slick out there,” Bortolotti said. “There was a fog factor, a wet factor and the track was really quite greasy in some lines. We found a rain line, but when you transition over to the dry line it was very, very slick, especially in (Turn) 3, and that’s when I ended up looping it with one of the other cars.
“Luckily, there was no contact, but that set me back and had to try to make a charge back up to the front and just ran out of time. But it was fun. Overall, it was a great day and I think most of the cars came home in one piece, which is always a good thing.”
Race 2 of the weekend for Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama will take place Sunday at 11:20 a.m. ET and can be streamed live on IMSA.tv. Robichon will look to repeat his dominating Race 1 performance, as he starts again from the pole followed by Ruscitti and De Angelis.