Series heading to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Sunday’s Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance represents the first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship visit to Canada and brings together a mix of familiar faces and newcomers to the historic Canadian Tire Motorsport Park circuit in the Greater Toronto Area.
Many drivers and teams that previously competed in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series are experiencing the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit for the first time, while the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón raced there from 1999 through 2013.
The newcomers proved to be up to the challenge on Friday. Gustavo Yacaman – racing at CTMP along with the entire OAK Racing team for the first time – led the Prototype class in Friday’s opening session with a lap of 124.808 mph in the No. 42 Morgan/Nissan (in photo) he co-drives with Olivier Pla.
“This track is really quick and it’s good fun to drive,” Yacaman said. “I really didn’t expect to be this fast right off, having never been here before. But I do have a lot of experience driving a lot of laps here on my iRacing simulator.”
Christian Fittipaldi is another driver visiting the facility for the first time. He was fourth quickest in opening practice in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP and feels that getting through traffic will be a key to winning here on Sunday.
“Of all the places we race at – excepting Daytona – this is the place where you probably carry the most momentum through the whole lap,” Fittipaldi said. “Just don’t even think about making a mistake here, though – there’s not a lot of room for error.”
OAK Racing and Action Express Racing will be joined by Wayne Taylor Racing, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Spirit of Daytona and Marsh Racing in competing at CTMP for the first time.
On the other hand, ALMS veteran Extreme Speed Motorsports has plenty of experience at the circuit. Ryan Dalziel – who is co-driving this weekend with six-time CTMP winner Scott Sharp – was second in opening practice in the No. 1 Tequila Patron HPD ARX-03b/Honda, followed by Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown in the team’s No. 2 entry.
Joining the Prototypes in Sunday’s two-hour, 45-minute race will be the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes. The race starts at 2 p.m. ET and will be televised live in the U.S. on FOX Sports 1.
Negotiating traffic in its race-within-a-race will be a key to success here on Sunday for the GTLM class, which returns with minimal changes from ALMS competition.
“There are a lot of new guys here, both in Prototype and GTD, so getting through traffic with be critical,” said Marc Goossens, who drives the No. 91 SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R with Dominik Farnbacher. “But it will be the same for everyone in our class. I see no reason not to have a solid race here, with any one of a number of different cars able to win.”
The team to beat in GTLM is Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. The duo is seeking its fourth consecutive class victory on Sunday.
The GTD class includes racer/actor Patrick Dempsey, who was encouraged Friday by the progress of his No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America.
“We’ve turned the team around with changes in our engineering,” Dempsey said. “[New engineer] John Wright has made a big difference.
“I really enjoy racing here. It’s an old-school track – those are the best.”