With the drop of the green flag on Saturday’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama race at Circuit Mont-Tremblant, 18-year-old Roman De Angelis earned his first Platinum class championship in the series.
Driving the No. 79 Mark Motors Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, De Angelis only had to start the race to secure the title as he entered the season-finale weekend with an impressive 58-point margin in the championship standings.
The youngster from Belle River, Ontario, was the first car to the green flag and the first car to the checkered flag as he led for the entirety of the first 45-minute race of the weekend.
"I don’t think it’ll sink in until tomorrow because for me, I still don’t feel like it’s over," said De Angelis, who previously won the 2017 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Gold class championship. "I came into the weekend knowing that I just had to start anyways, so even then I didn’t really think about it. I guess tomorrow night I’ll see how it feels.
"I’m also pretty focused on the (Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama) championship where I think I also just have to start at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, but you never jump the gun. It’s nice to do two-for-three with Mark Motors and for team championships, three-for-three."
De Angelis’ path to the championship has mirrored that of his Mark Motors teammate last year, Zacharie Robichon. The two have been friends for longer than their Mark Motors days, since Robichon coached De Angelis when he ran Formula Ford several years ago. Last year, Robichon collected 11 wins in 12 races – with De Angelis taking the outlier – and this year’s champion has so far secured 10 of 11 wins in 2019.
Robichon joined the top-tier IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship ranks this year in the GT Daytona (GTD) class and two weeks ago, was crowned the sole champion of the inaugural WeatherTech Sprint Cup, which consisted of all GTD races two-hours, 40-minutes in length or shorter.
"When I joined Mark Motors, it was pretty cool to be teammates with him in Gold and then obviously last year," said De Angelis. "It means a lot to have someone like Zach mentor me, even this year he has helped me a lot. And congratulations to him on his championship, he’s done an awesome job. He’s a back-to-back champ, so that’s pretty cool.
"To follow in his footsteps, guys like (Scott) Hargrove (2017 and 2014 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada champion) and (Daniel) Morad (2016 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada champion), who are also guys I look up to, it’s pretty cool to be up with them."
Earning his best finish of the season was series rookie Ethan Simioni in the No. 40 Policaro Motorsports Porsche after starting from the third position. Local Quebecker Patrick Dussault in the No. 77 Lauzon Autosport Porsche also moved up one position at the start to finish third on the podium in front of his home crowd.
Another title was also secured following Saturday’s race, with Marco Cirone earning his sixth Platinum Masters championship in GT3 Cup Challenge Canada. The race didn’t go as planned for the No. 88 Mark Motors Porsche, as they opted for Yokohama slicks ahead of potentially drier conditions. However, a consistent light rain forced the team to pit for wet tires and ended their chances for victory.
The strategy call didn’t damper Cirone’s spirits, however.
"It was worth a shot because we were in good position for the championship," said Cirone. "Hopefully tomorrow we’ll go out and be able to prove that we’re top four.
"I really have to thank Michael and Liza Mrak for bringing me back this season. Last year, I did just a couple select races. I owe them everything because without them I wouldn’t be doing this. They’ve been so wonderful in their efforts and contributions to the series. And to my team for putting up with me all the time, so I really want to thank them. It’s been a fantastic year, so I can’t wait for tomorrow and I can’t wait for next season again."
Winning Saturday’s race in the Platinum Masters category was the No. 37 TPC Racing Porsche of Michael Levitas. The Pikesville, Maryland local started third of Platinum Masters drivers and 10th overall on the grid ahead of his seventh race of the season. His move up to a sixth-place finish also earned him the Yokohama Tire Hard Charger Award for gaining the most positions in the race.
"My compliments to all my fellow competitors, to all the racers in Canada," said Levitas. "The start of the race was amazingly clean. Everybody could be trusted side by side. IMSA did a fantastic job, Porsche Canada does an awesome job and I can’t thank TPC Racing and Downtown Porsche enough for bringing me up to Canada."
Finishing second in Platinum Masters was Perry Bortolotti in the No. 84 Mark Motors Porsche. Scoring his first podium position of the season was another newcomer to the series, Jean Audet, driving the No. 67 Porsche for Grand TIMES Hotel Motorsports.
The season-ending race for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama goes green on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET and can be streamed live on the series’ Facebook page.