Victoria Day Celebrating Starts Early for 6th Gear Racing
Team Sweeps Pole Positions in Two Classes for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Qualifying
Canadians generally associate Victoria Day with family celebrations, picnics and copious firework displays. Today's qualifying session at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge machines adhered to that tradition as the 10-turn, scenic road course saw plenty of sparks fly on track throughout the 30-minute session, culminated by a blazingly fast lap time of 1:21:847 by Kyle Marcelli and Pfaff Automotive Partners. But it was 6th Gear Racing that took home the glory, as they swept the Pole honors for Platinum and Silver classes today.
A un-classified driver due to his professional status, Marcelli will start the race at the front of the field due to holding the fastest lap, but the official Pole Award and designation goes to Marco Cirone in his 6th Gear entry who will start at Marcelli's side in row one for the first race. Cirone danced with his teammate Perry Borlotti and Jean-Frédéric Laberge of SpeedMerchants in a tango for the position that came right down to the very last lap.
Cirone, who claims this track, formerly known as "Mosport," as his home court advantage, proved that "slow can be fast" as he pushed his 2010 Porsche 997 Platinum entry to it's top speed just prior to the session close.
"It happened on the last lap," the Toronto native exclaimed. "I knew that my teammate Perry (Bortolotti) was faster and I was running in 5th. So I just slowed down and tried to get all the corners perfect and hit all my acceleration points at just the right time and it all came together. I was very lucky," he laughed. "Mosport is a classic you know. Turn one and two are unlike anything else in North America. Fortunately this is my home track so I am very comfortable here, so it might give me a bit of an advantage for the race."
Teammate Perry Bortolotti in the No. 84 thought he had the day wrapped up and was managing the wear on his Michelins by staying out of the traffic caused by 21 Porsches in furious contention, when Cirone snuck past to capture the front row.
"I got a flyer and then I hit traffic again," he said. "We decided to bring it into the pits and save the tires for the race, so we sat there for the longest time and then my teammate took the position away from me, which is great, that's what its all about. So the good news is that we have fresh tires and are ready for the race."
The traffic had a profound effect as the first incident of the 30-minute qualifying session was caused by No. Jean-Frédéric Laberge and SpeedMerchants, who ultimately had a tenuous battle back to the front to finish just behind Bortolotti and Cirone.
"I had a huge spin in turn 3 so I was trying to recover and had a flat spot on my front right tire so I couldn't push the car too hard and there was just a lot of traffic. I think a 1:23:106 is not too bad considering how I started."
The Gold Class proved plenty competitive today as Bruce Gregory and his SpeedMerchants teammate Robert Maranda had a heated battle with Shaun McKaigue throughout the session. Ultimately, Gregory was on an internal mission. After a quick fix to a minor issue with one of his Michelins, he went out and put on a late burst of speed to take the top position in class.
"I went out with my goal today to get the Pole for Gold," he laughed. "Rob (Maranda) and Mike (Levitas) were going to push me hard the whole time and they certainly did. I had a bit of a tire pressure issue early on as one tire dropped down to 22 lbs. but we came in and tightened the valve stem and I went back out and did my lap of 1:24.734, but I sure couldn't do another! It was a flyer and certainly a qualifying lap and I have to thank the SpeedMerchants crew for such a great job! What can you say about the cars themselves, they are just so amazing to drive."
Robert Maranda and Mike Levitas started second and third in class respectively, P13 and 14 overall.
In the silver class, 6th Gear Racing was once again confidently in the lead. Doctor Bob Seitz and his sidekick Elmo confidently pushed their way up to the top qualifying honor and were immediately followed by the No. 00 of Gabor Foti and Fiorano Racing and Leho Poldmae with TPC Racing.
But ultimately the checkers fell for Pfaff Automotive superstar Kyle Marcelli, who jumped at the chance to take this opportunity to use his professionally rated talents to show just what a Porsche 997 can do.
"I immediately hopped on this opportunity with Pfaff," the Barrie, Ont. native said. "Pfaff plays a large role in Canada with Porsche and this is a unique marketing opportunity with them. For me, it's a great opportunity to establish a relationship with the manufacturer and it was a no-brainer to do this. My goal is to help open doors for young talent and elevate the profile of this series. Qualifying today was about doing the best we can and I really wanted to see how much this car has in it. We clicked off a decent time while running close to our limits. The car was just great and I really enjoyed today."
The first event on the second season of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, Victoria Day Speedfest will continue with two 45-minute races this weekend.