Team News: NGT Dominates at Sebring: Two Wins, One 2nd and Four Poles for Cisneros Brothers
SEBRING, Fl. (March 18, 2011) – NGT Motorsport’s experience paid off at their first IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama event of the season, with an impressive list of successes in the team’s hand at the end of the weekend - Platinum Cup victories in both Rounds, 2nd place in Gold Cup as well as pole position in both Classes.
NGT Motorsport will field six cars in the competitive GT3 series for 2011, with drivers Carlos Kauffmann (#24), Henrique Cisneros (#26) and Ray Arthur (#28) in Platinum Cup and Andres Cisneros (#25), Ludovico Manfredi (#27) and Eduardo Cisneros (#29) in Gold Cup class.
The two races at Sebring, part of the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, were near opposites: the first was 21 laps of caution-free racing while the second was 17 laps of mayhem.
The weekend got off to a flying start in qualifying on Thursday, with Henrique Cisneros, moving up to Platinum Cup class in a 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, put his car on the Platinum pole as brother Eduardo put his #29 entry on the Gold Cup class pole position.
“I knew I had to make it count on the first lap,” said Cisneros, “so I didn’t have to do any more laps than I had to and I could save the tires. I was able to get it done on the first lap. But right now, I’m just really happy for me and for my brother!”
Eduardo Cisneros opted to stay in Gold Cup class this season, and judging by his performance in qualifying – despite only arriving at Sebring on Wednesday afternoon – it was a good call.
“I was on vacation and I think that actually helped!” said Cisneros. “I was pretty relaxed when I got here, which was good, since I only had one practice. I just tried to remember everything I learned at the winter test. I’m thrilled that it’s both of our first pole positions ever!”
After 21 caution-free laps, Cisneros, driving the #26 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, was able to keep hard-charging rookie Cooper MacNeil behind him throughout the event. But it wasn’t easy.
"I tried to conserve the tires, but when MacNeil would catch up behind me, I had to push a little more,” said Cisneros.”But in the end, our strategy this morning of conserving the tires really helped me pull away. There were no cautions, so everyone really used up the tires. I was able to just stay calm the whole time and keep it together.”
Eduardo Cisneros driving the #29 NGT Porsche was leading the Gold Cup class for the majority of the race until a tire puncture forced him to fall back to ninth. Teammates Kauffman finished 16th and Arthur 22nd in Platinum Cup class. Manfredi finished 6th in Gold Cup, Andres Cisneros 10th.
Henrique Cisneros survived several close calls to score his second Platinum Cup victory from the pole while Eduardo Cisneros, also back on the Gold Cup pole for Round 2, avoided multiple incidents to finish second.
With three of the 17 laps run under two separate caution periods, rhythm was at a premium. Coming back from the second caution after lap 15, Platinum Cup leader Tim McKenzie lost control in turn 3, with Kauffmann and Alex Job Racing’s Michael Schein, running third and fourth at the time, getting collected in the aftermath. Somehow, Cisneros got through the melee to take his second win and take an early lead in the championship.
“It was definitely dicey, getting through the incident,” said Cisneros. “You never like to win that way, but I guess a win is a win and I avoided hitting my teammate.”
McKenzie passed Cisneros for the lead in turn 1 early in the race – a move that caught Cisneros by surprise.
“I didn’t expect it; he pulled a very late braking move on me. I was taking it easy, trying to conserve tires early on, but maybe I should have been a little more aggressive. After that, he was running very well, I was trying to catch up without pushing too much. The first few laps, the track was really slick. I couldn’t get any turn in and the car was pushing through the corners, but it cleared up and by the end, it was fine.”
Kauffman ran out of runway behind the spinning McKenzie and finished the day in 21st position.
“On the first restart, I was able to go from fifth to second,” said Kauffmann.” We were all doing very close times, but McKenzie spun in turn 3 and I was too close. I was going to hit him and I spun too and got hit pretty hard. But it was an amazing race – the competition this year is much harder.”
Eduardo Cisneros endured a difficult first race and was determined to make the podium in the second.
“I’m very happy I finished!” said Cisneros.” I had a horrible start – there was an accident right in front of me in turn two and everyone got around me, so unfortunately I lost my pole position pretty quickly. But I just kept gaining positions as people ahead of me got into trouble. I managed to weave my way through all the crashing cars at the end so I’m very excited to get my first second place!”
Arthur finished 16th in Platinum Cup, while in Gold Cup, Manfredi came in fifth spot, with Andres Cisneros 11th.
NGT Motorsport will be back in action for Rounds 3 and 4 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama on April 29 – May 1 as part of the Larry H. Miller Utah Grand Prix. To see all the results for NGT Motorsport or for more information on the team, visit http://www.ngtmotorsport.com.
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