A Welcome Return to CTMP, Championship Pictures and a Week to Remember
By Jeff Olson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Commitment.
It’s a word heard often during the weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the 10-turn, 2.459-mile jewel just outside Toronto. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship hadn’t raced at CTMP since 2019, and the Chevrolet Grand Prix was a prime opportunity for the track to shine.
And for drivers to reacquaint themselves with its wonderful yet demanding characteristics.
“The way the track flows is just awesome,” Colin Braun said after he teamed with Jon Bennett to win the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class Sunday in the No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier JS P320. “It’s weird. I’ve driven a lot of different cars here, from GTD to DPi to LMP3. They all drive pretty darn similar here. … All that experience just builds on itself. I just love this place, for sure.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the track formerly known as Mosport, here’s the abridged introduction: It hosted the Canadian Grand Prix in the 1960s and ‘70s. Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Jacky Ickx, James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter were among the winners. Mario Andretti holds the Formula 1 track record from 1977.
It has history, but it also has depth and character. It’s a high-speed, high-commitment circuit, with blind turns, phenomenal passing zones, and never-ending action. It is the fastest track on the WeatherTech Championship schedule.
“You wouldn’t think that DPi cars had their fastest lap times here of all the tracks we go to,” Bennett said after teaming with Braun to win for a fifth time at CTMP. “I mean, it doesn’t look like a superspeedway. It’s a testament to how fast this place is.”
CTMP is every bit as challenging and urgent as the best of North American road courses. It stands on equal footing with Watkins Glen, Road America, Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and others.
It’s good to see an old friend again.
“It’s an iconic racetrack,” Bennett said. “What a ride.”
Counting Points, One Race at a Time
If anything became known Sunday, it’s that nothing is known. It is, however, becoming more clear.
The results in the four classes Sunday brought the championship battles into focus. Oliver Jarvis, Tom Blomqvist and the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 snatched back the lead over Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class, with the margin now at 56 points with just two races remaining.
Braun and Bennett also increased their lead in LMP3, now at 98 points over Ari Balogh, Garett Grist and the No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier with two races to go. In GTD PRO, Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell extended their lead with a victory in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, though four races remain in the class.
“It’s more points in our bag for the championship,” Campbell said. “So, (it’s) a perfect weekend from our point of view.”
Inspiration and Much More
Robert Wickens doesn’t see himself as an inspirational figure. “I’m just a guy trying to get back to something I love to do,” he said last week.
Counterpoint: He is an inspirational figure. And he’s back.
During the track walk Thursday at CTMP, he was summoned home to Indianapolis by his wife, Karli, who was expecting their son Wesley earlier than planned. Wickens drove home, was there for the birth Friday, then returned to Canada for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.
All this happened days after Wickens – with co-driver Mark Wilkins – won a race for the first time since a spinal cord injury in 2018. Sure enough, Wickens won again Saturday, achieving the rare win-baby-win trifecta.
His is a story that inspires and motivates. It’s a human story. It’s a story of perseverance, determination and will. It’s a story of recovery and rebirth.
It’s also the story of a damned fine racer. One you’ll be reading about for a long time to come.