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McKenzie, Cisneros Take Victories on a Wild Day at Mosport

Tim McKenzie captured his fourth victory of the season at Mosport on Saturday. Photo by freidrichphoto.com/IMSAWhen the dust cleared on the 25-lap, two-caution race, Tim McKenzie had taken his fourth victory from the pole position, but the story of the day was the wild race taking place behind him in Round 8 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, part of the Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport.

McKenzie, in the #92 Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, was hoping to take his third wire-to-wire victory of the season, but the day was anything but easy for the field in his mirrors. Marco Cirone (#88 6th Gear Racing) went from his fourth place starting spot to second early in the race, while championship leader Henrique Cisneros (#26 NGT Motorsport, who started behind Fernando Pena (#38 Autometrics Motorsports/ Coulours Inc.) made a move on lap 16 and took over third. Pena and Michael Schein (#21 Alex Job Racing) promptly got tangled up, sending them back in the field. A late yellow bunched the field and cooled off the tires and after the restart, Cirone slide off in turn five, taking the Toronto native out of a podium finish. Mark Bullitt (#6 Muscle Milk/Team CytoSport) had a long battle with Chris Cumming (#16 World Speed Motorsports/Innovative Fitness) but Bullitt got around Cumming on the last lap to take his first podium of the year.

Needless to say, McKenzie was not happy to see those two yellow caution flags come out, which eliminated the small gaps he was able to establish on the field.

“I sure hated to see the yellow flags,” said McKenzie. “The restarts are always an adventure. It was a good race – Marco was better in a couple of spots and I was better in other spots so it was just a matter of maximizing the gap when I could. All I had to do was check in my mirrors on the straights, because if I was doing the corner correctly, he couldn’t pass, since our lap times were so similar. But it’s so hard to pass here, I’m glad I started in front!”

“This is one of the better races we’ve had this year,” enthused Cisneros. “Marco made an aggressive move at the start so I slotted in behind him. Then I made a move on Pena in turn three that he wasn’t expecting. On the second restart, it seemed as though Marco didn’t have enough heat in his tires and was having problems, so I knew I could make a move on him. I put a lot of pressure on him and he overcooked it in turn five and I ended up in second. It was a great race, the top five guys were neck and neck!”

“We messed up the qualifying yesterday and I felt bad all day,” said Bullitt. “I knew we had more speed. I got around a couple of guys and a couple of guys eliminated themselves. I had a great fight with Chris – after the restart, I knew where he was braking, so I went for it. I’m happy for the team, to finally be on the podium. We’ve tried so hard all season – we always had the speed, but we had some bad luck, so I’m so happy for them.”

Eduardo Cisneros took the Gold Cup class win at Mosport. Photo by freidrichphoto.com/IMSAIn the Gold Cup battle, Eduardo Cisneros blasted his #29 NGT Motorsport Porsche around pole sitter Mitch Landry (#54 Wright Motorsports/VersaCrane) at the start and held the lead, making up a couple of points on championship leader Madison Snow (#62 Snow Racing).

“I had a good start and I felt as though I had a jump on Mitch so I got him in turn one,” explained Cisneros. “After that, I just entered a higher level of concentration, which I’d never achieved, so I was in the zone the whole race - I just managed to leave fear at home today. I trusted the course and the line – if you stay on the line, the car sticks. We have great tires and great cars and they do the job.”

“I passed a few Platinum Cup cars and I had to keep them behind me, to keep the other Gold Cup guys behind me,” said Snow. “I passed Mitch in the hairpin, which was fun – I slide right in there. I was trying to chase down Cisneros but I couldn’t. But it’s good to get more championship points.”

Mark Bullitt won the Yokohama Hard Charger award for his march through the field, from an 11th place starting position to third spot.

The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama features semi-professional drivers racing head to head in the largest single-make series in North America. Powered by one of the world’s most successful race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, the multi-class structure of the series teaches drivers essential skills for an eventual career in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.

The series is divided into two classes; the Platinum Cup, featuring the more powerful 2011 and 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, and the Gold Cup, which includes 2005½ - 2009 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars. Both classes race on environmentally-focused Yokohama ADVAN ENV-R2 racing tires.

Round 9 of the ISMA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama will take the green flag Sunday at 12:55pm, just before the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón race. Live timing, news and schedule information is at www.imsachallenge.com

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