The brand new Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R has scored its first IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge victory, after just third race, after Stevenson Motorsports prevailed in an exciting two-hour race at CTMP.
Robin Liddell and Matt Bell – two drivers who won Continental Tire Challenge races in the previous generation Camaro – did the honors for the #57 team. Liddell took over for Bell – who ran inside the top five throughout his opening stint behind the wheel – during the race’s only full-course caution, for a heavy crash involving Jared Salinsky in the #52 MINI just before 50 minutes had elapsed. Salinsky was not injured.
On the ensuing restart just past the halfway point, Liddell got a good run on race leader Jesse Lazare in the No. 69 Motorsports In Action McLaren GT4 going into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s famed Moss Corner and claimed the lead. Adding insult to injury for Lazare was a drive-through penalty he received for failing to slow to safety car speed as directed by race control when the full-course caution came out.
While Liddell wasn’t challenged from that point on in the race, Lazare did manage to battle his way all the way back to second over the last hour of the race and got to within four seconds of the Camaro in the final few minutes of the race before fading toward the finish. Liddell went on to win by 6.462 seconds over Dillon Machavern in the #28 RS1 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR.
“I’m delighted to get the win, but we weren’t really expecting it to be honest,” Liddell said. “We’re still in the early stages of development with the car and that’s not to say there’s a lot more potential pace in the car, but certainly there are little teething issues we are having with it that we’re working through.
“To get the first win globally in this new GT4 platform is great. It’s another generation of Camaro that we as a team with Stevenson have won in, with the GT car, the Z/28, and now in this car. It’s great to be a part of that. It’s really a building of modern history for Camaro fans.”
Jesse Lazare and Chris Green – a pair of Montreal residents – slowed on the final lap to finish third, but later failed post-race technical inspection and was moved to the back of the class. That penalty moved the #76 C360R McLaren GT4 of Paul Holton and Matt Plumb to third.
Foss, Mosing Win Street Tuner Class Thriller
After a thrilling finish, the #56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman of Jeff Mosing and Eric crossed the line third, for the pair, it’s their sixth CTSC win and it extended their points lead.
Over much of the final 30 minutes of the race, you could throw a blanket over the top-three cars in the class. Leading the way was Toronto’s James Vance aboard the #37 MINI, who was looking to give the manufacturer its second ST victory in as many weeks after teammates Mat Pombo and Derek Jones won last Saturday at Watkins Glen.
Right on Vance’s tail was Eric Foss in the #56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman, with Owen Trinkler just behind Foss in the #44 CRG-I-Do-Borrow Nissan Altima. The freight train ran that way for several laps, the Canadian racing at his home track, the former ST champion and the defending ST race winner at CTMP.
As the laps wound down, both Foss and Trinkler would jump out of line periodically to take a peek but never could get enough of a run to complete a pass. Then, with five minutes remaining, Foss pounced on his opportunity going into Moss Corner (Turn 5).
Vance’s car bobbled ever so slightly entering the turn and Foss took to the curb on the inside of the turn. He made it stick and Trinkler followed him through as Vance fought to regain control of the #37.
“When it got down to a few minutes to go in (Turn) 5 it was the biggest door I’d seen,” Foss said. “When he shut the door, I really tried to avoid any contact. You’ve got to take the wins when you can get them.”
Trinkler took another look coming down the Andretti Straightaway but didn’t have quite enough. Foss went on to take the victory by 1.441 seconds over Trinkler and just over three seconds ahead of Vance.
Trinkler and co-driver Sarah Cattaneo matched their best result of the season with the runner-up result. They also finished second at Sebring. Vance and his co-driver, Mike LaMarra, rounded out the ST podium for their best run of the season.
The next round of the 2017 Continental Tire Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, July 22 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Photo courtesy of IMSA