Austin Cindric and Jade Buford gave the new Ford Shelby GT350R-C its maiden victory in Saturday’s action-packed Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Continental Tire Motorsport Park.
Cindric muscled his No. 158 Multimatic Motorsports entry around the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche 911 of Matt Plumb for the lead with 30 minutes remaining, bridging out a gap in the closing minutes.
It came following a charge through the field for the 16-year-old, who restarted in fifth in the second to-final yellow and made an impressive move around championship leader Robin Liddell for position before the race-winning pass.
Cindric crossed the line 4.703 seconds ahead of Plumb to become the youngest overall winner in Continental Tire Challenge history and giving the first win for the GT350R-C in only its second race.
“I think I cycled in fifth or sixth in line and about everybody was the same pace,” Cindric said. “I was thinking, ‘How am I going to get by these guys?’ because I knew we weren’t going to do another stop.
“I made my way through them and ended up making a few risky moves but it ended up paying off.”
The Multimatic-built cars proved to the be class of the field, with pole-sitter Billy Johnson and teammate Buford having stretched out into an early 1-2 lead prior to the first yellow at the 25-minute mark.
Buford, who also scored his first series victory, inherited the lead when Johnson pitted for left-side tires, but Johnson was back out front by Lap 31.
A heavy crash by teammate Scott Maxwell, who was turned around by the No. 78 Racers Edge Motorsports Mustang Boss 302R of James Vance, ended the No. 15 car’s charge and left Multimatic’s hopes to its remaining GT350R-C of Cindric.
Cindric and Buford broke a three-race win streak for Stevenson Motorsports’ Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis, who brought their No. 6 Camaro Z/28.R home in third, and maintain their championship lead in the GS class.
Teammates Lawson Aschenbach and Matt Bell were fourth, while the No. 8 Mantella Autosport Camaro of Mark Wilkins and Anthony Mantella completed the top-five, rebounding from a heavy accident in practice on Friday.
The battle for ST class honors came down to the final corner of the final lap, following a titanic fight between Spencer Pumpelly and Andrew Carbonell, which saw RS1 come out on top.
Pumpelly edged out Carbonell’s No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 by 0.358 seconds to take he and co-driver Luis Rodriguez Jr.’s second class victory and first repeat winner of the season.
Carbonell led with 30 minutes to go but came under intense pressure from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship star, with the two exchanging the lead multiple times in the closing minutes.
“I was able to stay with him and made a couple of looks to pass him,” Pumpelly said. “We ended up running side by side for lap after lap. We had a really good battle.
“He took the lead for a couple of laps and I got it back. He made another good move and got a nose ahead. Somehow I was able to keep him behind me and then he had a little bit of a slide.
“The last five laps he ran me down and sure enough it was on again.”
The Freedom pairing of Carbonell and Liam Dwyer, who had contact early with the No. 38 Next Level European Porsche Cayman of Dan Rogers, maintain their championship lead heading into the next round at Lime Rock Park.
The No. 19 RS1 Porsche of Connor Bloum and Greg Strelzoff completed the ST class podium in third.
RESULTS: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park