I grew up 1.5 hours from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly known as Mosport) and would attend the annual American Le Mans Series race with my father and uncle. At age 10, I convinced my father to buy a go-kart and begin competing.
By 15, we achieved success in karting across North America, and I was ready to take the next step. I was guided to the Ontario Formula Ford 1600 Championship in 2007.
Ontario had a competitive championship that competed at four circuits between Ontario and Quebec, one of which was Mosport. I won the championship in my rookie year. Fast forward to 2010, I made my debut in the ALMS.
This year, competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, means I race at CTMP only once a year. And, while I look forward to returning to my home circuit, it often comes with added pressure and an even busier schedule.
In the CTSC race, we started P5 and ended with the win, my first big victory at CTMP. It was a challenging race. While attempting to do some celebration donuts, the car ran out of fuel and I had to be towed into victory circle.
With 3GT Racing, I worked on the initial baseline setup of the race car while my teammate Dominik Baumann (who had never turned a lap on the 10-turn track) could focus on getting comfortable with the circuit.
One of the challenges of the home race is the distraction of fans, friends and family. It’s wonderful to have so much support, but it can be difficult to find a few minutes of quiet to focus on the race and my job behind the wheel.
When 3GT Racing arrived at CTMP, we knew that we would have a competitive race car. We struggled some in the low-speed corners, but we were good in the high speed. For this reason, we knew it would be crucial to have the track position to defend in the closing stages of the race.
3GT had a strong qualifying effort from both drivers. Dominik qualified the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 car in second, the No. 15 car, with Jack Hawksworth driving, was P1.
The first stint was smooth. Dominik maintained second place but, as he rolled into pit-lane for our first stop, we faced an issue that required a full reboot of the car after the service of fuel, tires and driver change. As a result, we lost nearly ten seconds in pit lane and dropped to 9th position.
Quickly we closed the gap to a pack of three cars. However, it’s one thing to catch the car ahead and quite another to overtake.
After about 20 minutes of racing, there was an full-course caution and we decided to revise our strategy and pit for fuel and four new tires.
As we went back to green, John Gentilozzi asked me, on the radio, to drive my best 13 minutes before our final stop. With the help of fresh tires, I was able to be more aggressive and managed to overtake four cars.
Our final stop was shorter than most of our competitors because we were in the pits 16 minutes prior. This managed to give us the race lead.
As the tires wore, I could see the No. 33 Mercedes closing the gap. Eventually, the Mercedes caught us.
With 16 minutes remaining there was another full-course caution. This allowed the entire field to pack up. On the restart, the No. 33 was able to get on the inside of me in turn ten, we went side by side down the front straight and through turn one, there was some contact on the exit and while we lost the lead, we finished in 2nd place.
Overall, I’m pleased with our performance and pleased with the event as a whole. It was a winning weekend in front of the home crowd.