CISNEROS, SMITH AND EDUARDO TAKE GOLD CUP TITLE CHASE DOWN TO THE WIRE AT ROAD ATLANTA
BRASELTON, GEORGIA (September 22, 2010) -- Henrique Cisneros, Kendall Smith and Carlos Eduardo have battled all season long for the lead in the Gold Cup class of the Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, and that fight will go down to the wire in the final two races of the season, Rounds 13 and 14 at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
The drivers have swapped the top three spots all season, each taking a turn leading the championship. Eduardo built a substantial lead in the first half of the season, with five wins in the first six events, but three races with no points opened the door for Smith, who took the Championship lead by winning both races in Salt Lake City. Cisneros took both events at Mid-Ohio, then gained the point lead with two podium finishes at Road America, while Smith ended up with two fifth place finishes - which let Eduardo, who won and finished second, back into the chase. After the mandatory two-race drop, the three drivers are separated by only 23 points going into this weekend which is shaping up to be a high-stakes game of cat and mouse.
Cisneros, driving the #26 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, knows this is his championship to lose, so finding the balance between racing and staying out of trouble is his top priority.
"To be honest, my plan of attack is to have a cool head and be pretty conservative," said Cisneros. "I have enough of a point lead that I can finish behind Kendall if I have to and still win. So Kendall has everything to lose in the next two races if he's behind me and he's aggressive trying to get by me, it may be in my best interest to just let him by and stick right behind him. If I do that in the last two races, let him try to go as fast as he can, as long as I'm just one spot behind him, I have the championship in my hands. If I drive over my head, if I try to make dangerous passes, it could cost me. For me, it's very important to win this championship. I've worked really hard for it, so I'm going to be a bit conservative and do what I have to do."
For all three drivers, this will be their first look at the famed Georgia circuit. Smith (#4 Maxwell Paper Racing) realizes the learning curve had better be quick if he's going to close the gap to Cisneros.
"I've never raced at Road Atlanta, so there will be a lot of learning the first couple of days," said Smith. "Hopefully I can get the track down quickly! There's a big learning curve going into a track you've never been to, figuring out braking points and shift points, where to put the car. I'll do iRacing and check out some YouTube videos that show fast laps.
"I have to go into Petit with a cool head and drive my race I can't worry about anyone else. Henrique has a little bit of a lead on me, so I need to go up there and be the best I can, take some chances and be the person setting the pace. I'm the one who needs to step up in this race; I didn't allow myself the cushion at Road America - I may have dug my grave there and now I've got to dig out of it."
Eduardo (#24 NGT Motorsport) is happy to find himself in the hunt, after an up and down season that saw him win five of the first six events, including winning the first three races, only to get blanked in three others.
"I am very happy to be in this position!" said Eduardo. "After everything that's happened this season, to be in the chase at the end is very rewarding. I will have to be aggressive and be smart and make sure I am there if something goes wrong for Henrique or Kendall!"
The Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama features semi-professional drivers racing head to head in one of the world's most successful race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. As a developmental series designed to prepare drivers and teams for professional careers in sports car racing, the multi-class structure of the series teaches drivers essential skills for an eventual career in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
The series is broken into two classes, with the Platinum Cup Class featuring the more powerful 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car. The Gold Cup Class includes 2005½ - 2009 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
The 2010 season will come to a dramatic close at the legendary Petit Le Mans, September 29 October 2 at Road Atlanta, with the Speed TV production of Rounds 13 and 14 scheduled to air on Sunday, October 24 at Midnight. Follow along on the race weekend at www.gt3timing.com and visit www.imsachallenge.com for the latest track schedule, television information and updates.