Toronto ON (July 10, 2017) – On July 8, CTCC took its tour to the airport circuit of ICAR Mirabel in order to run a pair of 40-minute contests on the short 1.570-kilometre circuit. Place the blame on the full moon, on an early morning wake-up call courtesy of a violent thunderstorm, or the single-day, doubleheader format, but by all accounts, Rounds Five and Six of the CTCC presented by Pirelli series was described as more ‘intense’ than usual.
The opening race was green flagged with every entrant starting on rain tires, the damp track conditions proving to be somewhat of a handicap for the powerful GT Sport class cars with pole sitter Chris Sahakian’s No. 99 United Auto Racing Mustang being a perfect example.
While Sahakian faded slightly, the battle for the overall race lead raged between Super Touring class racers Jean-Francois Hevey (No. 12 Porsche) and the No. 11 8Legs Racing BMW of Eric Hochgeschurz.
On lap eight, Ashley Sahakian (No. 7 Mustang) impacted the wall, the force sufficient to dislodge the concrete barriers. Ashely was able to get out of the car safely and without injury. The red flag was produced to allow for the wall to be repaired and replaced, but once again under green, the two-car war at the front was renewed.
In the drive of the day, series newcomer Jeff Kingsley, starting from the tail end of the field, guided his No. 16 SCB Racing BMW into the top three before taking advantage of some ‘aggressive racing’ from Hevey and Hochgeschurz that opened a gap for him to squirt through to assume top spot, a position that the Pickering, Ontario resident would maintain to the lap 25 checkered flag.
It was the debut Super Touring class, and overall, victory for Kingsley.
“I was late to the grid so I had to start from the back,” explained Kingsley. “I was thinking ‘end goal’, which is the championship, and I knew I needed to get towards the front. I’ve had podium finishes before, but you get more points for a win. That kind of inspired me.”
Chris Sahakian stayed in contact with the race-leading trio to claim fourth place overall and tops on the GT Sport class.
Paul Dargis made his first CTCC start of the 2017 campaign aboard a new NO. 35 Honda Civic and used his wet-weather prowess to earn the Touring class victory, crossing the stripe in fifth spot overall.
Saturday afternoon’s second round was run under almost perfect conditions, and the expected running order was reconfirmed as Gary Kwok (No. 66 M&S Racing Civic TCR) outraced Sahakian and the No. 88 Hyundai Racing Canada Genesis of Bob Attrell to the checkered flag to score the GT Sport class win.
Recognized as one of the series’ great ‘late-brakers’, Kwok used this skill to wrestle the point from his challengers, eventually stretching his advantage over runner-up Sahakian to 3.447 seconds at the checkered flag.
After having his four-race winning streak halted in round one, defending Touring class champion Michel Sallenbach (No. 46 Mini Coupe) rebounded to capture the class win, finishing in fourth place overall and the final car on the lead lap. Dargis held on for a second place result, crossing the stripe five seconds in front of Nelson Chan in the Octane Racing No. 45 Mini.
For a variety of mechanical reasons, the front-runners in the Super Touring class were all forced to make unscheduled pit stops. Recovering the best was Eric Hochgeschurz who soldiered on to take the class win. Although several laps down, Nathalie Henault (No 20 Quickseries Subaru) was on-track to receive the checkered flag and was rewarded for her diligence with a career-best second place result. Race one winner accepted the checkers eight laps in arrears of Hochgeschurz, but was still running at race end to record a podium result.
GT Sport: 1. #99 Chris Sahakian, 2. #66 Gary Kwok, 3. #88 Bob Attrell.
Super Touring: 1. #16 Jeff Kingsley, 2. #12 Jean-Francois Hevey, 3. #11 Eric Hochgeschurz.
Touring: 1. #35 Paul Dargis, 2. #46 Michel Sallenbach, 3. #41 Scott Nicol.
GT Sport: 1. #66 Gary Kwok, 2. #99 Chris Sahakian, 3. #88 Bob Attrell.
Super Touring: 1. #11 Eric Hochgeschurz, 2. #20 Nathalie Henault, 3. #16 Jeff Kingsley.
Touring: 1. #46 Michel Sallenbach, 2. #35 Paul Dargis, 3. #45 Nelson Chan.
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CTCC presented by Pirelli is a truly Canadian Sports Car Racing Championship and a leader in Canadian motorsports. It provides Canadian race fans with close and exciting competition between some of Canada’s fastest race car drivers. CTCC takes pride in the fact that it is Canadian owned and operated, and that it is one of the longest-running professional sports car series in Canada. Notably, amongst the two hundred drivers that have competed in the championship, CTCC has helped to further the career of over thirty drivers.
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Photos: Paolo Pedicelli (Vroomfoto.com)