The WeatherTech.ca Alex Job Racing Porsche of Cooper MacNeil/Jeroen Bleekemolen squeezed out a GTC win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park after a great driver change/pit stop.
Long/Kimber-Smith in CORE autosport car best Porsche in GT
Bowmanville, ONT. Both the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars - a total of more than 50 Porsches - gave the more than 30,000 fans at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park near Toronto great competition on a perfect race day, with the American Le Mans Series GT Challenge class stealing the show.
Jeroen Bleekemolen, from The Netherlands, a multiple Porsche Supercup winner, gained track position by not coming in for a pit stop during the last yellow flag with less than an hour to go, and held off the two series points leaders to score his team's second victory of the season. The win, which put Bleekemolen and co-driver and defending class champion Cooper MacNeil into a tie for first place in points, was especially sweet as their car was heavily damaged just two weeks ago at Lime Rock Park.
"It feels great after what happened at Lime Rock," MacNeil said. "The team did a great job to rebuild the WeatherTech.ca Porsche in record time. We came to Mosport and we led every session of the weekend except for one, pole, fastest race lap and the victory. My stint went well. The car was well balanced and I was able to make some passes and hand Jeroen a good car for the rest of the way."
"Fantastic," Bleekemolen said. "It was a hard fought race. Since the caution the first three GTC cars were running very close together. The car ran really well. The strategy was perfect and got us back out into the lead. I just had to keep it out front and out of trouble. Even in the end we had more fuel in the car and our tires were a little older, but we were able to maintain the lead to the end. Fastest race lap, pole position and fastest in every practice but one is a good way to repay the crew for their hard work over the past two weeks."
With only 11 minutes left, Sean Edwards in the NGT Momo Porsche and Spencer Pumpelly in the Flying Lizard Porsche, who were the leaders in the GTC points, were battling for second position on the track when Edwards got a big break when two GT cars got between him and Pumpelly, extending his position.
But in the traffic, Edwards was bumped by one of those GT cars and hit the tire wall, puncturing a tire. Because of the incident, Bleekemolen was able to gain a comfortable lead, with Pumpelly second. Edwards was able to continue, and pit for the tire change, but dropped to sixth. Ryan Dalziel/Alex Popow moved to third, with Patrick Dempsey/Andy Lally fourth, and Jan Heylen/Mike Hedlund fifth. The revised point standings are below, with Pumpelly/Canache and Bleekemolen/MacNeil now tied for the points lead.
"Nelson did a great job on the first stint, leading most of the way and handling traffic like a veteran. My battle with Sean Edwards was great, and I thought we were finished when those two GT cars got between us, but he was bitten by traffic, and we took advantage. The Lizards prepared a perfect Porsche for us to drive - we're glad to be in first place," said Pumpelly.
A last-minute arrangement with the Starworks Grand-Am team brought stars Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow to the #68 TRG Porsche, and the drivers rewarded the team with a third-place finish.
"There was some trouble with the handling of the car in the beginning, but with hard driving and crew adjustment, we overcame it in the end to take a podium, which Alex (Popow) and I are thrilled about," said Dalziel.
Patrick Dempsey drove perhaps his best stint, according to co-driver Andy Lally, and a fourth place finish in the Dempsey Del Piero Racing Porsche was good, but the team thought they had a car that could have won the class.
"This was, hands down, Patrick's best drive that I have seen him do yet," Lally said. "He had some really good runs at Le Mans, but this was a full fuel stint to start the race, flat out and no yellows. He kept very good pace and set very good lap times, his best of the weekend by half a second. The progress he is making every single week is astounding."
Dempsey pitted from the lead after an 80-minute opening stint to hand off to Lally. A solid stop by the Dempsey Del Piero team put the No. 27 back on track in fourth place and Lally in hot pursuit of the leaders but he was back in the pits just two laps later with a left-rear wheel problem.
"I am just tired of coming in fourth when we had a real shot at winning this thing," Dempsey said. "We had another problem with the wheel, that's the third time, so we have to really, really look hard at that, address it, and make sure that doesn't happen again. You can't make a mistake in this series and win."
In the ALMS GT class, Patrick Long/Tom Kimber-Smith was there fastest of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR contingent, finishing eighth in the CORE autosport entry, while the Marco Holzer/Bryce Miller combination was ninth in the Paul Miller Racing Porsche and the Team Falken Tire Porsche of Bryan Sellers/Wolf Henzler was tenth.
#4 Oliver Gavin /Northhamptonshire, England; Tommy Milner / Leesburg, VA; Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 - 123 laps
#91 Mark Goossens/Geel, Belgium; Dominik Farnbacher/Ansbach, Germany; SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R - 123 laps
#93 Jonathan Bomarito/Monterey, CA; Kuno Wittmer /Montreal, QC; SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R - 123 laps
#3 Jan Magnussen / Roskilde, Denmark; Antonio Garcia / Barcelona, Spain; Corvette C6 ZR1 - 123 laps
#56 Dirk Müller/Tägerwilen, CH; Joey Hand, Sacramento, Calif. ; BMW Z4 GTE - 123 laps
#55 Bill Auberlen/Redondo Beach, CA; Maxime Martin/Brussels, Belgium; BMW Z4 GTE - 122 laps
#23 Townsend Bell, San Luis Obispo, Calif./Leh Keen, Charleston, SC; Ferrari F458 Italia - 122 laps
#06 Patrick Long/ Playa del Rey, CA; Tom Kimber-Smith/Henley-on-Thames, UK, 121 laps
#48 Bryce Miller/Summit, NJ; Marco Holzer/Bobingen, Germany; Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR - 121 laps
#17 Wolf Henzler/Nürtingen, Germany/Bryan Sellers / Atlanta, GA; Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR - 120 laps
GTC - all Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars
#22 Jeroen Bleekemolen/Monte Carlo, Monaco, Cooper MacNeil/Hindsdale, IL - 114 laps
#45 Nelson Canache Jr./Caracas, Venezuela; Spencer Pumpelly / Atlanta, GA; Flying Lizard Motorsports - 114 laps
#68 Ryan Dalziel, Windermere, Fla./Alex Popow, Venezuela 114 laps
#27 Patrick Dempsey/Malibu, CA; Andy Lally, Atlanta, GA; Dempsey Del Piero Racing - 113 laps
#11 Jan Heylen/Tampa, FL, Mike Hedlund/Woodside, CA - 113 laps
#30 Sean Edwards/Monte Carlo, Monaco; Henrique Cisneros, Miami, Fla. - 113 laps
#44 Seth Neiman/San Francisco, CA; Dion von Moltke/Coral Gables, FL; Flying Lizard Motorsports - 1:22.022 - 108 laps
#66 Damien Faulkner/Mouille, IE, Ben Keating, Port Lavaca, TX - 96 laps
1. Dirk Müller, BMW, 70
2. Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Corvette, 56
3. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Chevrolet, 65
4. Maxime Martin, Bill Auberlen, BMW, 50
5. Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher, SRT Viper, 53
6. Jon Edwards, BMW, 46
7. Marco Holzer, Bryce Miller, Porsche, 32
Joey Hand, BMW, 32
8. Joanthan Bomarito, Kuno Whittmer, SRT Viper, 31
9. Richard Lietz, Porsche, 30
10. Olivier Beretta, Matteo Malucelli, Ferrari, 29
11. Townsend Bell, Ferrari, 25
12. Richard Westbrook, Chevrolet Corvette, 24
13. Joey Hand, BMW, 24
14. Patrick Long, Tom Kimber-Smith, Porsche, 24
15. Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers, Porsche, 22
Manufacturers Points - GT
1. Chevrolet, 95 points
2. BMW, 80
3. SRT Viper, 66
4. Ferrari, 55
5. Porsche, 53
1. Henrique Cisneros, NGT, 68 points
2. Spencer Pumpelly/Nelson Canache, Jr., Flying
Lizard Motorsports, 77
3. Jeroen Bleekemolen/Cooper MacNeil, Alex Job
4. Jan Heylen/Mike Hedlund, JDX, 51
5. Patrick Dempsey, 48
6. Damien Faulkner/Ben Keating, TRG, 44
7. Sean Edwards, 43
8. Andy Lally, 42