With LMP2 having Canadian Tire Motorsports Park off, and the Michelin Endurance Cup-only teams going back into hibernation until Petit Le Mans in September, the entry list for the sixth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is up 10 entries from last year, but pared significantly from the 57 cars at Watkins Glen International last weekend.
The full-season teams and drivers that will be there are probably glad – 34 cars is a much more manageable number around the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit. The increase comes from nine cars in GTP vs. five in DPi l ast year, and a big jump in GTD entries. Last year, CTMP was a non-points race in GTD.
Without the hectic three-day turnaround between finishing the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen and loading in at CTMP, it’s a little more relaxed between the two races; some years have had the races on consecutive weekends, while this year there is a weekend in between. Teams with damaged cars from crashes in the Six Hours will certainly appreciate a little extra time.
But with the slight date change that means the race is no longer on the Canada Day holiday weekend. There may be a few local drivers happy to be able to spend Canada Day with family rather than racing that weekend, and there are quite a few Canadian drivers in the field. Notable among those is defending GTD champion and CTMP race winner Roman De Angelis, currently third in the GTD standings with his Heart of Racing teammate Marco Sorensen. Other Canadians in the field include GTD competitor Misha Goikhberg, LMP3 drivers Garrett Grist – who holds the LMP3 track record – Orey Fidani, Anthony Mantella, and one-offs Antoine Comeau and George Staikos in an Ave Motorsports Ligier. Then there’s the Canadian team wearing lumberjack plaid, Pfaff Motorsports. Based on the outskirts of nearby Toronto, the Porsche GTD PRO team and defending winners will have a huge number of friends, family and fans on hand.
Of course, one of the more famous Canadians to have raced in IMSA competition is Ron Fellows, now part-owner of the circuit. Fellows had a long tenure with Corvette Racing, which has won 11 times at the circuit, although the last time Corvette won at CTMP – where, ironically, Chevrolet is the title sponsor – is 2014. A driver who has several wins here is Colin Braun, who will be looking for the first real victory of the season for he and Tom Blomqvist in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06 (they won, with Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but later received big points penalties because the team was manipulating tire pressure data). Bill Auberlen is the only driver in the field besides Braun to have won more than one time at CTMP.
The overall points leaders going into the CTMP round, a 2h40m sprint race, are Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims for Action Express Racing in GTP; Gar Robinson and Felipe Fraga for Riley Motorsports in LMP3; Ben Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth for Vasser Sullivan Lexus in GTD PRO; and Paul Miller Racing drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow in GTD.