BOWMANVILLE, Ont., (July, 21 2013) - There was no room for error in round eight of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). Race Two of the weekend included one full course caution early, but after that the yellow flags remained in the marshall stands.
NGT Motorsport's Angel Benitez Jr. had a nearly flawless run to take the checkers. After losing to Madison Snow by a photo finish yesterday, Benitez was relieved with the victory.
"We're happy to be here and finally win at this track," Benitez said. "I love Mosport (CTMP) and yesterday just got out of my hand at the last minute. I give thanks to Porsche, to Yokohama, to IMSA. A really big thanks to IMSA for all that they're doing for the series. Thanks to my country and my family."
Benitez got on the inside of pole sitter Snow in Turn 1, Lap 9, to take the lead and shortly after Snow had a flat tire on the back stretch of the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit. As Benitez pulled away and ultimately won by four seconds, an incredible battle ensued for second place.
Brett Sandberg and Sloan Urry were about as close as two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars can get without touching. Sandberg put the pressure on Urry from Lap 10 to the finish, but Urry pulled away on the last lap for his second podium finish of the weekend.
"The EFFORT Racing crew gave me a great car today," Urry said. "I could push the entire time and it stuck with me. At the start I made a mistake, fell back to fourth, but pushed hard to get back into the third position and pushed harder and harder to secure that second place for EFFORT. Yesterday I said I was looking for another step and I got it so I'm happy to bring home some more hardware for EFFORT."
Both Sloan and Sandberg ran their fastest times on Lap 26 around the famed course. The two ultimately finished six tenths apart.
"We had a really good car for the long run but again it was a good battle toward the end," Sandberg said. "Sloan (Urry) got around me in the back straight and it was a hard fought battle the whole way. I thought I was going to get him there at the end and we just caught bumpers and that was it. So it's tough."
The few mistakes made today were costly to competitors. The yellow caution that lasted Lap 1 to Lap 6 came out after four cars came to a stop on the opening lap. The No. 24 entry Mark Llano spun off Turn 5 and went perpendicular to the track, causing a straight line of three more Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars to stop directly behind him. Michael Levitas, Danny Gianfrancesco and Patrick-Otto Madsen were all involved in the incident. Madsen and Gianfrancesco's cars were towed off the track and Gold Cup Masters points leader Levitas was forced to retire.
On Lap 8, Eduardo Cisneros and Michael Mills made contact and spun. Both drivers headed to the pits and after Mills went back on track, was ultimately forced to retire and take his No. 41 EFFORT Racing entry to the paddock. Cisneros was able to complete the race, finishing in 17th.
With his fourth victory this season, Benitez slides into first place with 116 total points. Snow was able to finish the race, and rather quickly at that. The 17-year-old turned the fastest lap of the race for a new race lap record of 1:21.819. He finished 15th and earns one point for doing so. That leaves Snow three points back (113) from Benitez and Sloan Urry in third with 98 points.
"The race was not very good," Snow said. "I was going great at the start and ahead of Benitez. That was making me happy. I was trying to pull away. The flat tire happened after the yellow. I stayed on the track for a lap to make sure that's what it was. It went down, so we circled around and came in for a new tire. After that I was just trying to get fast laps. I had the pace. That's all that matters."
Awarded for his skill in climbing positions throughout Race Two, Franck Silah was named the Yokohama Hard Charger. The MGM Racing driver pushed his way from a 19th starting position to finish 14th overall.
Masters Gold Cup points leader Michael Levitas took an early exit in Race Two after an incident in Turn 5, leaving the door open for other Gold Cup drivers to take the checkers.
Franck Silah: First Place Gold Cup
"So very happy. My first one here in the GT3 Cup Challenge. A pole position. I think the fastest lap of the weekend. I am very very happy. Too bad for the other guys that had an accident. Yesterday it was me. I got involved in an accident and I lost the lead. But there are other races, so I am very very happy."
Michael Levitas: Second Place Gold Cup
"Tough race, tough race. I was trying to keep it conservative. I had a really good car and could tell on the opening lap. I didn't want to do anything dicey in 5A. I had a really great car, I could have taken some positions. There were two cars in front of me and one of the cars just made an impossible move in 5B and one car went underneath of it, I got pushed from behind and got pushed into the car and that was all she wrote. That was the end of the race day."
The Masters Championship
Another heated race took place for the Masters Championship at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Craig Duerson walked away with his third consecutive win this season
Kasey Kuhlman and Phil Fogg Jr. swapped positions early and were nose to tail from Lap 9 on. After dropping off the podium in Race One, Kuhlman found his way back to the winners' stand.
Entering round nine of the 2013 season, Duerson leads the points standings with 140 total points. Kuhlman trails him with 133 points.
Craig Duerson: First Place Platinum Cup Masters
"My day was, you know, was really good. Ramez gave me a great car. NGT prepped the car really well. At first I was concerned, but the handling came in and I was able to maintain a good pace. The other Masters were right back there on my bumper, maybe two car lengths, three car lengths the whole time and I was saying 'please God can I just see the white flag?"
Kasey Kuhlman: Second Place Platinum Cup Masters
"I just kept waiting for the guys in front of me to make a mistake and to their credit they didn't do it. We had a pretty good car and I feel good about the drive. It was a good day."
Phil Fogg Jr.: Third Place Platinum Cup Masters
"It was great. We had a bad start. Michael Mills and I both got off into the marbles at Turn 1 and that put us way back. So we just gradually worked our way back up the field. I was right behind the melee that happened and we were lucky to get through that. After that, in the final six or seven laps we were running in the mid to high 22's and I finally learned the track I think. We love Toronto, my wife comes up, she loves this race. It's an awesome area."