Rounds seven and eight of the GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama took place at the venerable Toronto Indy July 12-14, 2019 under what some would describe as ‘variable conditions’. Others might call the conditions ‘extreme’ as the Policaro Motorsport team took to the field under weather ranging from bright and sunny to torrential downpours.
In addition to rapidly changing conditions, the 2.82-kilometre street circuit added its own challenges for the teams. While it is the shortest track on the 2019 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama schedule, it is arguably the most challenging. The temporary street circuit is lined with unforgiving concrete barriers, uneven and punishing road surfaces and narrow turns. Turn three in particular, at the end of the Lakeshore straight, is especially tricky and would be the screen of several incidents throughout the weekend.
Regardless of the challenges of shifting weather and a demanding race track, the Policaro Motorsport team was in good spirits and up for the challenge, having recently completed a successful weekend at the Mobil1 Sportscar Challenge at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. During that weekend, Jeff Kingsley captured a P2 finish and Ethan Simioni posted his second-best finish of the season in the number forty car, despite missing the entire practice session after hitting a wall in lap one and experiencing an engine failure, forcing the team to replace the entire engine in only 1.5 hours.
The qualifying session saw Jeff Kingsley takes a P2 finish posting a time of 01:13:457 and Ethan finishing only a second behind.
The start of race one was delayed by almost two hours as heavy rain pelted the track creating large areas of standing water. After the track had dried and conditions were deemed safe, the green flag dropped. Jeff Kingsley, piloting the number sixteen Porsche GT3, managed to hold his position throughout the race for a P2 finish. The team elected to take a gamble with the number forty car based on the variable and unpredictable weather conditions and set Ethan out on rain tires. The strategy paid off at the beginning of the race as Ethan managed to move into P3 for the opening laps. However, the rain abated, and the skies opened up drying the track. As the track dried, the field began to close the gap. Ethan was eventually forced to pit to change his rain tires for racing slicks and would finish the race P10.
Sunday brought beautiful sunny conditions to the streets of Toronto. Starting in P2 once again, Jeff Kingsley looked to gain position early on in the race. However, an incident stopped on-track action for about 10 mins. The restart saw the number sixteen car keep second place which is where the car would cross the chequered flag.
Ethan Simioni started race two in 9th place-his starting position being determined by the performance of the previous race in which Ethan lost time in a pit stop tire change. The number forty car posted a strong performance in race two, scoring the third-best time in sector 1 of 22.822. After climbing to P4 and being forced off track, Ethan regained position and crossed the finish line P8.
Overall the team had a successful race weekend and gained valuable points. Jeff Kingsley closed the gap for second place in the championship standings and is now only two points down.
The next two races for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama at Road America will be streamed live on IMSA.tv over the course of the weekend on August 2 – 4. Alongside GT3 Cup Challenge USA, the first race of the weekend is scheduled for Saturday, August 3 at 11:30 a.m. ET, with Race 2 on Sunday at 9:40 a.m. The final rounds of the 2019 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada season will take place at Circuit Mont-Tremblant on September 27 – 29.