Team News: Cisneros Clinches Platinum Cup Championship for NGT
Eduardo Cisneros takes Gold Cup endurance race victory
MONTEREY, CA (September 19, 2011) – NGT Motorsport’s Henrique Cisneros took his second championship in a row, clinching the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama’s Platinum Cup title by taking the class victory today at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. And for good measure, brother Eduardo earned the victory in the Gold Cup class in the 75-minute endurance event on Sunday, the second of two races over the Modspace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patrón weekend.
Friday’s 45-minute qualifying session
Cisneros, driving the #26 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, led Fernando Pena by 14 points in the championship as the weekend began, so qualifying was especially important. Cisneros took the pole after only four laps of qualifying - managing to conserve his tires for the race - with Pena starting sixth.
“I was able to get a quick lap in before the traffic set in,” said Cisneros. “Fortunately, it was fast enough to hold on until the end. There’s been so much rubber laid in that there was actually more grip than we’ve had all weekend. It was nice that it was cooler; the cars make a lot of power, so they’re a little bit faster. The plan for tomorrow is to keep Peña behind me - I don’t care who else passes me, I just have to keep Peña back there!”
Carlos Kauffmann, driving the #24 NGT Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car qualified in seventh position in the Platinum Cup. Meanwhile, Eduardo Cisneros, in the #29 NGT Porsche, qualified second in the Gold Cup class, behind point leader Madison Snow, while Ludovico Manfredi (#27) qualified 10th and Andres Cisneros (#25) started 12th.
Cisneros held the race pace early, only to lose the lead when he missed a shift going into turn two early in the race. Young Bryce Miller – no relation to the ALMS driver – gained the lead and didn’t give Cisneros an opportunity to get by, as the race finished with Miller in the lead and Cisneros second. But while the race win slipped away, the championship picture improved, as second and third in the championship, Fernando Pena and Tim McKenzie, spun during the race, leaving Pena in 17th position and McKenzie in sixth . At the checkered flag, Cisneros had a podium spot and a 32-point lead in the title chase.
“I missed a downshift and locked my rear tires in turn two, ended up going straight and lost two positions,” said Cisneros. “I ran third for a while, but ran into some oil on the track – Tim McKenzie spun in it, which gave me second. Bryce drove a very consistent, fast race, so I just wanted to stay behind him and keep everyone else behind me. I have a good lead now in the championship, so it’s looking good! I just need to finish the next three races.”
Carlos Kauffmann carved his way through the field to finish with Cisneros on the podium, in third position.
“I kept my pace, but the rest of the field was crazy again!” said Kauffmann. “But I ended up third behind Henrique – my third third place this year!”
Eduardo and Andres Cisneros had their share of difficulties in the race – Eduardo spun early, putting him back in the field, though he had moved up to fourth when both Cisneros brothers got caught up in an incident between two other cars in turn 11, putting both into the gravel with significant damage to Andres’s Porsche. Eduardo Cisneros finished eighth in Gold Cup and Andres 10th, with Ludovico Manfredi finishing seventh.
If Saturday’s race lacked a satisfactory conclusion, Sunday’s 75-minute “endurance” event made up for it, as Henrique Cisneros, starting second behind Tim McKenzie, took the race lead when McKenzie tangled with Carlos Kauffmann on lap 13 of the 40-lap event – clinching the Platinum Cup championship, his second straight IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama title.
For Cisneros, driving the #26 NGT Motorsport Porsche, winning the championship removed a season’s worth of pressure. His ALMS GTC experience this year helped him establish the pace that earned him the driver’s championship.
“The season has been the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” said Cisneros, taking his fourth victory of the year. “I had a fantastic race, so I couldn’t be happier. Thanks to Ramez and to my wife and daughter for letting me have so much fun! I’m so glad that I can enjoy the last two races without any pressure. From GTC, I’ve really learned how to be fast and conserve my energy, so I was calm and collected, and focused on being consistent. I couldn’t be happier!”
Eduardo Cisneros, driving the #29 NGT Motorsport Porsche in the Gold Cup class, Madison Snow and Saturday’s winner Mike Hedlund swapped the lead during the race, with Cisneros taking the race victory. To take his fourth race win on the day his brother clinched the Platinum Cup title made it that much more special.
“It was a grueling race,” said Cisneros. “I had a bad start and fell behind but started picking off guys as the race progressed. I was in fourth for a while but slowly got to the lead. I had some great passes and the yellow flags gave us some breathing room. But this day is all about Henrique, I’m thrilled that he won the championship for a second year in a row. He came in last year as a rookie in the Gold Class and has done a great job in Platinum as well and will be great in GTC next year.”
“This was my most exiting race of the Season,” said Ludovico Manfredi. “I started the race in eighth position, I had some very good fights, that's what it's all about after all, is it not? I almost went for Eduardo's third spot after he tangled with Hedulund and both of them almost lost it, but decided to avoid a possible tangle of two NGT cars...can you imagine? The last caution did not help as I knew I could get back the fourth spot from Levitas. And I did, I achieved two podium finishes and this is my second fourth place so far this season, so I’m very happy.”
Kauffmann finished 21st in Platinum Cup, with Andres Cisneros finished 10th in Gold Cup.
NGT Motorsport will be on the track again next weekend, as the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama season ends with Rounds 14 and 15 at Petit Le Mans September 28 - 30. The series will have two 45-minute races at Road Atlanta – Thursday at 1:45pm and Friday at 11:30am EDT. To see all the results for NGT Motorsport and for more information on the team, visit www.ngtmotorsport.com.