An impressive array of nearly two dozen Canadian drivers will be competing for top honors as drivers from around the world compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this weekend.
In addition, four highly successful Canadian teams; AIM Vasser Sullivan, Pfaff Motorsports, Compass Racing and MIA Racing teams proudly fly the flag racing full-time in IMSA.
Off to a Fast Start
The Canadians have already won races and scored podiums to begin the 2019 IMSA season racing with Michelin. Several are in championship contention.
Montreal’s Kuno Wittmer and Floridian Paul Holton opened the Pilot Challenge season with an impressive win at Daytona aboard Toronto-based Compass Racing’s No. 75 McLaren 570S GT4.
Meanwhile, Saint-Eustache, Quebec’s MIA Racing team has scored two podium finishes in the first three Pilot Challenge races of the year. Montreal’s Jesse Lazare and Columbus, Ohio’s Corey Fergus finished in third place at both Daytona and Sebring in their No. 69 McLaren. Lazare and Fergus led the GS class driver points standings through three races.
Mulmur, Ontario’s Mark Wilkins scored the win in TCR class competition at Mid-Ohio, sharing his No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR with young Californian Michael Lewis.
This was Hyundai’s first IMSA win and came after Lewis hung on versus other drivers with Michelin’s commercial slick tires on a damp but not fully wet track. James Vance of Toronto also has a TCR class podium this year, with FAST MD Racing in an Audi RS 3 LMS TCR, at Daytona.
In the premier WeatherTech Championship action, several drivers and teams have stood out.
The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, which has both Canadian and American bases, has gotten off to a strong start. They have won the first two IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup races of the year at Mid-Ohio and Detroit and been on the podium as well at Daytona.
Ottawa’s Zacharie Robichon has been fast. He scored the pole position in the GT Daytona class at Detroit, driving the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
He and Porsche’s lone American factory driver, Thousand Oaks, Calif.’s Patrick Long, finished second in that race.
Coldstream, B.C.’s Cameron Cassels has a class win in LMP2 this year at Sebring, driving with Performance Tech Motorsports. He leads that class points standings through three races.
Why We Love CTMP
Ask most of the Canadian drivers in the field what their favorite track is and few will hesitate to provide an instant answer: it’s Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“I’m super excited to be back at CTMP, and racing there is such a great track,” says Wilkins, who races a Hyundai Veloster N TCR with Bryan Herta Autosport in the Pilot Challenge series.
“I think on the Michelins it’ll be fantastic. I hope it warms up! It’s been winter up North for a while! With any luck in July we’ll be able to exploit the grip of the sticky Michelin slicks. It’s a great circuit. I’ve had a lot of success there in the past and look to carry that forward with Hyundai.”
“My home track is CTMP… I’ve been racing there since 2012,” Robichon adds.
“It’s a fun track. Fast track. Old school. For PFAFF Motorsports it’s our home track, so we hope to have some fun.”
Learning from the Best
Part of their success traces to legendary Canadian driver, Ron Fellows. After his career with Corvette Racing ended, Fellows has moved into track ownership and operating a driving school at CTMP.
The Ron Fellows Driving Experience at the circuit includes classroom, professional presentation and track sessions during the day.
Anthony Simone, of Aurora, Ontario, thanks Fellows for his tutelage in learning how to drive the circuit.
“I started my racing career doing his driving school and learning how to race cars at CTMP, when it was still called Mosport,” Simone said.
“Doing the Ron Fellows Corvette Performance Driving School and learning the line from him was special. He is one of the best in the business, and he said it is all about commitment from Day 1.
“The best advice I had was to learn the line from him. Once you get off line, back it down so you avoid getting into a lot of trouble really quick.”
The CTMP Weekend
This weekend at CTMP is only the fourth of the year where all three Michelin IMSA race series are in action at the same track on the same weekend.
Both the Challenge series race on Saturday afternoon. The Pilot Challenge race is first, from 1:55 to 3:55 p.m. EDT. Then just 35 minutes later, the Prototype Challenge races a three-hour race from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. EDT.
The WeatherTech Championship race is Sunday, following a morning driver autograph session from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. EDT. The two-hour, 40-minute Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix goes green at 1:05 and runs until 3:45 p.m. EDT.
Canadian fans will be treated to a special weekend featuring seven hours, 40 minutes of racing, and they’ll be hoping some of their own will be celebrating with the Canadian flag atop the podium.