Cisneros and McKenzie Split Platinum Cup; Snow Takes Both Gold Cup Wins at Lime Rock
LAKEVILLE, CT (July 9, 2011) – Rounds 6 and 7 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge were action-packed contests, as both events saw close racing, multiple spins and lots of passing, giving the large crowd at Lime Rock Park something to cheer about before and after the afternoon’s American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix.
In a race filled with spins, tight racing and an ending under yellow, Henrique Cisneros increased his Platinum Cup championship lead with decisive victory from the pole position, while young Madison Snow played the smart game to lead the Gold Cup class wire-to-wire in Round 6 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama.
Cisneros came into the weekend with a 30-point lead over Tim McKenzie in the Platinum Cup championship and qualified his #26 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car on the pole, just ahead of McKenzie’s #92 Kelly Moss Motorsports entry. But McKenzie spun in turn one early in the race, leaving Cisneros’ NGT teammate Carlos Kauffmann to fill his rear view mirror for the remainder of the race. McKenzie came all the way back into a fight for third spot until a late race clip of the turn five tires left him in 13th position.
“I was keeping McKenzie behind me,” explained Cisneros. “He made a couple of aggressive moves but he spun twice, which left Carlos behind me. He got really close to me in turn one and I would gap him in some of the other turns, but he was in my rear view mirror the whole time. I’ve always said that Carlos is my biggest competition; he’s a very fast driver.”
Fernando Pena (#38 Autometrics Motorsports/Colours Inc.) rounded out the Platinum Cup podium.
15-year-old Madison Snow also increased his lead in the Gold Cup championship with an impressive run through the field which saw him get up to fourth position overall early in the race. The driver of the #62 Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car had that exact plan in mind before the green flag.
“I wanted to get as many positions between me and the fast Gold Cup guys as I could and the start was the best option for that,” said Snow. “Several guys tried to get by me on the inside in turn one – I let them go and they’d lock their tires up and go by me. I think that staying on the track and not making any mistakes was the best bet today!”
Angel Benitez (#54 ANSA Motorsports) finished second, with Michael Levitas (#36 TPC Racing) was third. John Baker (Alex Job Racing) earned the Yokohama Hard Charger award for his drive from 18th to 8th.
For Tim McKenzie, driving the #92 Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the Platinum Cup class, it was all or nothing today. He crashed out of the first race, then led the second from the pole position, never allowing Chris Cumming close enough to get a look. He also dented the stranglehold Henrique Cisneros (#26 NGT Motorsport) had on the championship, as Cisneros’ day ended on lap one with a broken radiator.
“My first race was ridiculous,” said McKenzie. “It was like I’d never raced before! The first race, I went from second to last to fourth to last. I know I had the car to win, so that was frustrating. The second race was pretty comfortable – it seemed that every time someone made a charge on me, something would happen to them. So it was relatively uneventful, which was a nice way to balance out the race from this morning!”
Cumming (#16 World Speed Motorsports/Innovative Fitness) was an early favorite for the championship but each race seemed to present a new set of challenges. He enjoyed his first podium finish of the year.
“I lost third place early on, but I put my head down and tried to turn consistent laps, just putting corner after corner together,” explained Cumming. “My team did a great job, the car was great the whole run. I’m so glad to get back to the podium where I think we belong.”
David Heinemeier Hansson (#37 Porsche Napleton Racing/37 Signals) finished third.
Madison Snow made it five out of seven victories in the Gold Cup class in 2011, an amazing feat for a 15-year-old in his first season in the series. Also amazing considering his biggest battle of the afternoon was with his mother Melanie, driving in the Platinum Cup class, who started just ahead of him on the grid. Son passed Mom on the first lap, but she got back by him later in the race.
“We figured that if I got a good start, she’d let me go, since we’re in different classes, but she got as good a start as I did,” said Snow, driving the #62 Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the Gold Cup class. “But I passed her in turn two and was able to keep up with the Platinum Cup cars. I was trying to maintain faster times than the guys in my class – it’s easier for me if I can get a jump on them at the start and try to keep them behind.”
Andre Cisneros (#25 NGT Motorsport) earned the Yokohama Hard Charger for his move from 25th starting position to 20th overall.
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.
The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama will be back on the track in two weeks as part of the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport July 23 and 24. Rounds 8 and 9 are scheduled for 11:35am Saturday and Sunday at 12:55pm, just before the American Le Mans Series race. Live timing, news and schedule information is at http://www.imsachallenge.com/.