Pfaff Castrol GT3 Cup Challenge at the Honda Indy UPDATE

Steve Bortolotti | July 22, 2014

 

This past weekend saw rounds 5 & 6 come and go in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada Series. Our #9 Pfaff Castrol Motorsports entry piloted by Chris Green entered the weekend with a 4-point deficit in the overall championship, and we were looking to make up some ground on points leader Scott Hargrove. From the minute we rolled out for the first practice session, we knew our car was going to be a force all weekend. Chris Green hadn’t raced on the Toronto street circuit in over 10 years, so for all intents and purposes he was racing on a new track to him, which made us feel even more confident about our times all through practice.

As we moved into the early morning qualifying session on Saturday morning, we ran a handful of laps, only to receive a rude wake-up call (no pun intended) as we were falling farther, and farther off the pace as the other competitors turn more, and more laps. It was a no-brainer to send Chris back out on track after falling down the time sheets, and Chris Green sure did not disappoint! He joined an intense 3-way battle for pole position with Hargrove and Pigot, as the three drivers traded top times throughout the remainder of the session. Late in the session, Chris just put together 3 incredible laps in a row, all of which were good enough to take the pole position for both races 1 & 2 on the weekend.

Saturday’s race wasn’t what the #9 Pfaff Castrol Motorsports team had in mind. Chris surrendered the lead early in the race, and found himself fighting with Pigot to hang on to 2nd place at about the 10 minute mark of the race. A small error by Green sent our #9 car for a spin at about 120mph, which severely flat-spotted all 4 Michelin tires. Luckily, Chris did an outstanding job ensuring the car sustained minimal damage on the narrow street circuit, as he just grazed the wall, and headed to pit lane for some fresh rubber. The #9 Pfaff Porsche Castrol Cup team then went to work, as they pumped out one of the fastest 4-tire pit-stops the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada series had ever seen, and sent a frustrated Chris Green back on his way to do what he does best: drive fast! Green then set the fastest lap of the race, and drove his heart out to salvage as many precious championship points as possible. We ended the day 12th overall, and had a fair pit of work ahead to repair the car to make a mends on Sunday.

For Sunday’s race, we started on pole in front of a packed Toronto crowd, and the team was excited to put on a show at our home race. A first lap incident in the middle of the pack, brought out a caution flag for the first 5 laps of the race. Restarting from pole, Green & 2nd place driver Hargrove made their way towards turn 1, where our weekend went from bad to worse. Hargrove made contact with the right rear corner of our #9 Pfaff Castrol Motorsports car, sending it for a spin in which it made heavy contact with the inside concrete wall, damaging the front of our 991 GT3 quite badly, and leaving us nearly half a lap down from the rest of the field as no caution flag was thrown for the incident. However, what happened next was truly special, and a real testament to Chris’ desire to win. He drove his heart out in front of the packed grandstands, and turned some of the fastest laps of the race, picking off cars one-by-one much to the delight of the on-looking crowd, and #9 crew in pit lane cheering him on. As the laps began to wind down, we found ourselves in the top 5 with only a handful of laps remaining. Knowing we need to salvage as many points as possible, Chris dug deep and brought our car all the way up to 3rd place where we would finish the race. As our beat-up car made its way around the track on the cool-down lap, the front radiator finally let go, and started spewing water & steam out from under the front bumper of the vehicle which made it look like a scene out of a Hollywood movie. Members from the other teams, and people in the private suites behind the pits applauded Chris’ efforts as the beat up #9 car made its way through pit lane, which made for a moment I won’t soon forget.

All in all, we were pretty disappointed by the way the weekend played out as it put a serious dent in our championship efforts, but our team is still very proud, and our driver who drove his heart out for us all weekend despite our bad luck. We were faced with adversity for the first time as our own race team, and handled it admirably. Everybody chipped in and did their part throughout the weekend, and while the finishes weren’t what we were looking for, we kept our heads high, and left as an even more tight-knit team than ever.