Canadian teenager Jesse Lazare parried intense pressure from championship leader Colin Thompson over the closing laps to earn his first career Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama victory Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Lazare, 17, from Montreal, outran Thompson to the line by .173 of a second in the No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to win Round 10 of the season. He became the second-youngest overall winner in the 10-year history of the Porsche single-make series and the youngest Canadian driver to stand atop the podium.
“It was a long race,” Lazare said. “I took out the lead early, and my plan was to get a good gap and maintain it. No mistakes, keep looking forward, and that’s it – keep pushing. I love this track, been here many times. It was basically the first car track I ever raced on. I know the tricks, I know the spots to pass, and I know the spots I can get passed, and I had a great time.”
Thompson, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, padded his points lead to 152-138 over Angel Benitez Jr. with his second runner-up finish of the weekend in the No. 14 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County entry.
Benitez, from Valencia, Venezuela, finished third in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport Porsche. Michael Lewis, from Laguna Beach, California, placed fourth in the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian entry. Christina Nielsen, from Aarhus, Denmark, rounded out the top five in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport 911 GT3 Cup car.
Sloan Urry, the winner of Round 9 on Friday, finished eighth Saturday in the No. 20 JDX Racing entry after spinning out of fourth late in the race.
Lazare started from the pole and led every lap. He maintained a steady lead of about one second over Benitez during the first half of the 45-minute race.
But Benitez started to pour on the pressure late in the race as he and Lazare started to navigate lapped traffic. Benitez pulled to within .504 of a second with 13 minutes remaining, and the reduced pace due to traffic helped Thompson and Urry pull to within one second of Lazare, forming a four-way pack for the lead with 10 minutes left.
Benitez drove up to Lazare’s bumper with seven minutes remaining, trailing by just .154 of a second. But he went wide in Turn 1 with about four minutes left, opening the door to second place for Thompson.
Urry also fell out of contention for victory with less than two minutes remaining with spin into the wall with less than two minutes remaining.
The duel for the top step of the podium heated from a simmer to a boil between Lazare and Thompson on the final lap. Thompson looked inside and outside in a few of the corners on the challenging track, but Lazare remained unflappable all the way to the checkered.
Kasey Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, was the top finisher in the Platinum Masters (age 45 and older) class for the eighth time this season in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Jay Patel was second in Platinum Masters in the No. 00 Dempsey Racing Porsche owned by actor and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship driver Patrick Dempsey, while David Calvert-Jones rounded out the Platinum Masters podium in the No. 12 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian entry.
Jeff Mosing, from Austin, Texas, completed a sweep of the Gold Cup (2010-13 model cars) and Gold Masters divisions with his victory in the No. 01 Topp Racing entry after a spirited battle for the entire race with Michael Levitas, who ended up second in Gold Cup and Gold Masters in the No. 35 TPC Racing Porsche.
Patrick-Otto Madsen finished third in Gold Cup in the No. 99 ANSA Motorsports 911 GT3 Cup car. Mark Llano finished third in Gold Masters in the No. 24 NGT Motorsports entry, his second podium finish of the weekend and his career. Llano also won the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for finishing 18th overall after starting 26th.
Rounds 6, 11 and 12 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama will take place Aug. 9-10 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Round 6 was rained out May 24 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Photos by Jordan Lenssen