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Perry Bortolotti Double Winner at Inaugural Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada at calabogie


CALABOGIE, May 15, 2011 – It was a day of dampness and then sunlight, but when it was all over, Kanata, ON native Perry Bortolotti wound up on the top step of the podium in two decidedly different races. Bortolotti won both races of the inaugural round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Bortolotti bested Toronto-based Marco Cirone, who was runner-up in both races as well.

For those hardy enough to brave the elements and who covered the earthen berms that were the grandstands at this natural terrain venue, they saw a classic race – close, filled with the kind of “will-he-or-won’t-he” intrigue only a rapidly drying racetrack can produce.

The first race rolled off at 10:00 AM EDT on a track that was still wet. In fact, IMSA had declared it a wet race, requiring all competitors to start the race on Michelin rain tires. At the green flag, thrown at the start by Porsche Cars Canada President and CEO Joe Lawrence, Bortolotti almost immediately drew out an eight-second lead over the second place Cirone.

“Our strategy was pretty clear – get away early and put as much distance between us and the second place car, then back off and conserve the tires,” said Bortolotti. “But while it was a good plan, the track dried way too fast and really started to eat up the tires.”

Rain tires are softer and need the cooling effect of wet weather to survive. The rapidly-drying track conditions, owing to a lack of any additional rainfall and a stiff, dry breeze, offered few and then no opportunities to cool down the tires.

“There were no puddles,” said second place finisher, Marco Cirone. “And as the tires started to wear down it became slicker and slicker. Finally it was more like a drifting event than a race.”

Cirone began to carve away at Bortolotti’s lead, cutting it down to a little over two tenths of a second at one point. I pushed him hard trying to get him to wear out his Michelins. He would slide one way and I would go the other way to try and pass, but I couldn’t. Then it would start all over again at the next corner.”

Despite the hard racing, both drivers professed admiration for the other. “It was a hard race, but clean,” said Cirone. “It wasn’t about blocking, it was about two guys racing on what felt like a skating rink.”

Finally, both drivers had to back off and conserve what they had left of their tires.

“I asked my kids if they were scared,” said Bortolotti. “They said, ‘no daddy. We knew you would win!’ I’m glad they did, because I didn’t! It was a close one,” he added, breathing an audible sigh of relief.

In Gold Cup class, Martin Harvey (#08 Wingho Motorsport Racing/McDonalds) stayed ahead of second place finisher Shaun McKaigue (#34 Fiorano Racing) despite McKaigue setting the fast lap of the race on the event’s final lap (2:13.640), thus earning the pole position for race two.

“It was a fabulous race,” said Harvey. “There was no rain! It was just a little bit damp on the track. The car ran really well, though in the last few laps, my tires were not so good since I was running on the rain tires, but there was enough water out there to keep them going. I’m glad the race wasn’t longer!”

Bob Seitz (#58 SpeedMerchants/Fiorano Racing) won the Silver Cup class.

The finishing order for the historic first race of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada is as follows:

1.         Perry Bortolotti            SpeedMerchants/Fiorano Racing

2.         Marco Cirone               6th Gear Racing

3          Martin Harvey              Wingho Motorsport Racing (Gold Cup Winner)

4.         Robert Seitz                SpeedMerchants/Fiorano Racing (Silver Cup Winner)

5.         Shaun McKaigue         Fiorano Racing

6.         James Hoddinott         SpeedMerchants/Fiorano Racing

Two drivers, James Hoddinott and Shaun McKaigue, took a chance and changed over to dry tires during the race. While it didn’t provide any overall advantage with both drivers, who lost a lap in the process, it did benefit McKaigue in the slightly longer run as he scored the first race’s fastest lap time, placing him on the pole for the second race

The second race was in complete contrast to the first race. The weather had continued to dry out and the temperature had climbed to 13 degrees Celsius with the sun trying valiantly to break through the clouds.

Pole sitter McKaigue brought the field to the start finish line, but was unable to keep in contact with the faster cars once the flag dropped. Bortolotti and Cirone immediately picked up where they left off in that morning’s race.

This time Cirone stayed close from the beginning. “I tried to pressure him from the start hoping he would make a mistake. He didn’t,” commented Cirone. “I tried darting left, right, then left again. He did not falter once.”

Things were not so easy for the front-running Bortolotti, however. “I was driving really hard and was really afraid of cooking the tires,” he said. “It takes some doing to ruin Michelins, but it can be done. And Marco is a fabulous driver and I knew if I made even one slip he would be all over me.”

But as the race wore on, Cirone’s challenge faded as his tires began to go away. As they did, Bortolotti’s rapidly grew to a shade over 14 seconds.

Martin Harvey (#08 Wingho Motorsport Racing/McDonalds) also returned to the victor’s podium in race two, passing McKaigue (#34 Fiorano Racing) on lap 11 for the Gold Cup win.

“This race was more exciting!” said Harvey. “I got around Shaun but we touched a little bit. We were dicing back and forth, it was very exciting! Shaun is a very good driver; I had to work hard to find a place to pass.”

Bob Seitz (#58 SpeedMerchants/Fiorano Racing), the lone Silver Cup class competitor, stuck to his plan and brought his Porsche home in one piece. “We did what we wanted to do,” said Seitz.” We let the faster guys go and kept the tires on the car. I think we gave the fans a pretty good show!”

The real race was in the mid-pack as Martin Harvey, James Hoddinott and pole sitter Shaun McKaigue were mixing it up for third place. McKaigue duked it out, first with Martin Harvey, who passed him mid-race for third. Then James Hoddinott passed first McKaigue and then, two laps from the end, Harvey for a fine third-place finish.

The finishing order for the second Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada race of the day is as follows:

1.         Perry Bortolotti            SpeedMerchants/Fiorano Racing

2.         Marco Cirone               6th Gear Racing

3.         James Hoddinott         SpeedMerchants/Fiorano Racing

4.         Martin Harvey              Wingho Motorsport Racing (Gold Cup winner)

5.         Shaun McKaigue         Fiorano Racing

6.         Robert Seitz                SpeedMerchants/Fiorano Racing (Silver Cup Winner)

“This race is the accumulation of a lot of work for me. I really pushed to bring the GT3 Cup Challenge here to Calabogie,” said Perry Bortolotti reflected on his double win, And it is an honor for me to have won the two races.”

When asked how it felt to be the winningest driver in the history of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, Bortolotti laughed heartily. “Make sure you say that I laughed when I was asked that question!”

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge has become a fixture on the racing scene around the world. Run on every continent except Antarctica and Africa, it is estimated that the GT3 Cup Challenge will hold 120 events and 255 championship rounds in 2011. The concept of a Porsche based one-make cup series dates back to 1986, with the Rothmans-Porsche Challenge Series for normally-aspirated Porsche 944s in Canada and the Porsche Turbo Cup Championship for 944 Turbos in Germany.

The series is divided into three classes; Platinum Cup, featuring the more powerful 2011 and 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, Gold Cup, which includes 2005½ - 2009 Porsches, and Silver Cup for 2002 – 2005½ 996 Porsches. All three classes run on Michelin tires.

Three events comprise the inaugural season of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada: May 14-15 at Calabogie Motorsports Park (Calabogie, Ontario), June 3-5 at Circuit ICAR (Mirabel, Quebec) and ending the season on the same racing card as their American counterparts July 23-24 at the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport. The season’s overall champion will be presented with a Tudor Heritage Chronograph, provided by Rolex Canada.

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