On-track action during the first Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama race of the weekend was just as hot as the temperature on Saturday afternoon at VIRginia International Raceway.
Coming out on top for the second time in three 2020 races was Canadian racer Jeff Kingsley in the No. 16 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. The Ajax, Ontario, native started from the pole position as the leader in the point standings after qualifying earlier in the day was abandoned. Kingsley held on for the entire 45 minutes to claim the victory.
While the sun was going down as the laps ticked away, it was still a steamy Virginia day that the drivers endured.
"If you watch the video, it looked like a bit of an easy win, but in the car it definitely wasn’t," said Kingsley. "First of all, it was a super, super hot day. I don’t think I’ve ever been that hot in a race car, so there was that element. I lucked out a little bit on the start. Got a really good start. The guys behind me started battling a little bit behind me so I got a gap and from there it was just about staying consistent, keeping the lap times, keeping the gap."
Kingsley’s teammate Alan Metni equaled his best series finish to date in the No. 99 Porsche for Kelly-Moss/AM Motorsports. Metni held on for a second-place overall result – and his third straight Platinum Masters victory for drivers 45 and older – but had to really hold on for the position during the opening lap after a spirited battle with Riley Dickinson in the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche. While Dickinson would lose the battle and run off track, Metni powered on and even posted the quickest lap of the race, earning the right to start first in Race 2 on Sunday.
"It feels great, I’m really happy to be here," Metni said. "It’s one of my favorite tracks. It’s a great track with a lot of fun challenges. I had no idea (about starting on pole) and I think that is wonderful. I’m so happy. It’s a lot of fun, I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I guess I have all night to think about it."
Completing a Kelly-Moss podium sweep was Sebastian Carazo in the No. 27 Porsche. It’s the best finish to date for Carazo, who moves up to the Platinum Cup class for current-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars after winning the 2019 Gold class championship.
In the Gold Cup class for cars built between 2014 and 2016, Curt Swearingin made it back-to-back victories Saturday following a Race 2 win at Road America three weeks ago. While Swearingin started first in the Gold class, Efrin Castro in the No. 65 TPC Racing Porsche pulled ahead of Swearingin prior to taking the green flag. The error resulted in a penalty for Castro and an eventual win for Swearingin.
"We had a little accident on Monday at testing," said Swearingin. "Went home, got in the backup car and it feels better. We worked for two days to put the car back together. To come back as a team as hard as they did, to go back to Chattanooga, come back to VIR and turn it around in two days back ready to go and the car was on from the get-go."
Stealing the Yokohama Hard Charger Award on Saturday was Charlie Luck in the No. 45 Wright Motorsports Porsche. On the final lap, the award given to the driver for gaining the most positions in the race seemed destined for Vernon McClure’s No. 10 TPC Racing Porsche. However, McClure ran out of fuel and stopped on track before the checkered flag, handing the award to Luck, who started eighth and finished fifth.
"Started a little farther back than we would’ve liked, but really was able to make some quick work of it at the start of the race and get around some of the slower traffic," said Luck. "A super-consistent race. I think that’s key in this type of sport to not have any major mistakes and to be consistent lap after lap, and that’s what we delivered as a team."
Race 2 at VIR for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. ET Sunday. The race can be streamed live, flag-to-flag on IMSA.com with IMSA Radio commentary.