It was the perfect ending to a perfect season on Sunday for Roman De Angelis in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama.
In the final race of the year at Circuit Mont-Tremblant, De Angelis started second on the grid in his No. 79 Mark Motors Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car to Parker Thompson.
Thompson, in the No. 3 SCB Racing Porsche, led for nearly all of the 45-minute contest – including over a captivating battle amongst the top five competitors, all within one second of each other with 10 minutes remaining – but succumbed to De Angelis with three minutes remaining.
It was De Angelis’ 11th first-place trophy this year out of 12 races and came one day after securing his first GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Platinum Class championship.
"It definitely wasn’t unentertaining," said 18-year-old De Angelis. "I worked pretty hard to make Parker make a mistake, but Parker did an awesome job as always. I was finally able to get him with an old Formula Ford move that we use to use here also with the draft on the back straightaway. I made the move and was able to pull a bit of a gap. It was an awesome race, pretty entertaining up to the last few laps."
This is De Angelis’ second GT3 Cup Challenge Canada championship in three years with Mark Motors Racing, after winning the Gold Class championship in 2017. He credited the team following the race and especially teammate Marco Cirone, who captured a sixth GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Platinum Masters championship of his own on Saturday as well.
"The last three seasons, it’s been phenomenal," said De Angelis. "I couldn’t be happier to be a part of them, it’s a family rather than a team. I look forward to racing every weekend with them. A perfect season not only for myself, but the team with Marco winning the Platinum Masters championship. I can’t thank Marco enough for all of the advice the past three years and before that. So, a perfect year and I couldn’t ask for a better team to be around me."
Thompson held on for a second-place finish, which coupled with a fourth-place showing on Saturday, elevated him to second behind De Angelis in the 2019 championship standings as well.
Finishing third on Sunday was rookie Ethan Simioni in the No. 40 Policaro Motorsport Porsche. Simoni has had an impressive run in the second half of the season, finishing on the podium in the last four consecutive races. The podium streak moved him to fifth overall in the final championship standings.
Meanwhile, coming home in fourth place on Sunday after a difficult Race 1 on Saturday, was Jeff Kingsley in the No. 16 Porsche for Policaro Motorsport. Kingsley started eighth on the grid and moved up four spots to earn the final Yokohama Tire Hard Charger Award of the season. The award is given to the driver in the field who gained the most positions over the course of the race.
"With yesterday’s struggles we had to start eighth, so the focus today was to move forward and get a podium, if not the win," said Kingsley, who earned his first career win at this year’s season opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. "We finished fourth, but it was really tough. We had a five-car battle in front and unfortunately, I was the fifth car of the five and at that point you can’t turn with all the aero-wash.
"I struggled and just had to wait for mistakes. I moved forward to fourth, but they were too far gone. I think if there was another 10 minutes because I got some clean air there, it could’ve been better. But we did the best we could. The team did great providing me with the best they’ve got for me to get the job done. There’s always next year."
Also having an infinitely better Race 2 was De Angelis’ teammate and the 2019 Platinum Masters Class champion, Marco Cirone in the No. 88 Mark Motors Porsche. Weather and strategy calls plagued the No. 88 team throughout Saturday’s race, forcing them to finish last on the charts.
But a spectacular bounce back on Sunday ended with a win, Marco’s seventh of the season. However, it didn’t come without its own set of trials.
"Today I had it set in my head I was going to go out there and give it all I can, the last race I really wanted to prove a point," said Cirone. "But unfortunately, it didn’t start so well. I had a little incident in Turn 4. I went out, lost my splitter and I came in during a caution. The boys taped it up – I don’t know how it stayed on – and believe it or not, the car got faster and faster.
"At the end, I think I was going as fast as some of the guys up front. I’m really proud of the team, so I want to thank them for all their efforts. I’m so happy I was able to put on a show for them and reward them by finishing in first."
Saturday’s Platinum Masters winner, Michael Levitas in the No. 37 TPC Racing Porsche, finished second in the final race and coming home in third was Cirone’s Mark Motors teammate Perry Bortolotti in the No. 84 Porsche.
Completing his rookie season in GT3 Cup Challenge Canada was Sam Fellows, driver of the No. 35 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche. Fellows – son of legendary sports car driver Ron Fellows – secured the Gold Class championship after racing six events this year.
"My dad and I, when we were talking about where is the best place to learn in Canada, for him it was the Player’s Challenge and Porsche 944 Rothmans Turbo Cup back then," Fellows explained. "This is the best place to learn I think, and my dad and I agree. We wanted to be here.
"Pfaff had the Gold car, so we got on the grid. Yes, we didn’t get as much competition as we wanted, but we wanted to learn and that’s what we came to do. We’ve learned the hard way in some situations, but it’s all part of the process and I’m trying to embrace the process."
Fans can re-watch several of the 2019 races on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Facebook page and keep up with news over the offseason on IMSA.com and on social media using the hashtag #GT3Canada.
The series will make its return in 2020 at the annual Victoria Day SpeedFest at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on May 15-17.