Just one week after competing in the Six Hours of The Glen race at Watkins Glen in upstate New York, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) headed north across the border to race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). It was the first time that the IWSC series had raced there since before COVID in 2019, and some teams decided to forego the race due to Canadian COVID regulations that are still much stricter than the US. The BMW teams that participate in the series did go, but none of them made it to the podium in Canada.
The CTMP race counted toward the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup Championship, a championship within a championship that only awards points at the shorter races on the calendar. There were only six entries each in the GTD Pro and GTD classes, with BMW Team RLL entered in the #25 M4 GT3 in GTD Pro, and one M4 GT3 each for Turner Motorsport and Paul Miller Racing in GTD. The M4 GT3s in both classes were given a BoP adjustment after Watkins Glen, with an additional 20kg (around 44 lbs.) of weight added.
CTMP is the fastest track on the IWSC calendar, with cars setting average lap speeds that are higher even than at Daytona International Speedway where cars are on the high-speed oval for most of the lap. In qualifying, John Edwards was the fastest of the BMWs and qualified third in GTD Pro with an average lap speed of 116.6mph. Madison Snow qualified the Paul Miller #1 M4 GT3 in third in GTD, while Robby Foley was in fifth. All six of the GTD cars and four of the six GTD Pro cars were within a half-second of each other in qualifying.
BMW Team RLL came into CTMP with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, after a win at Watkins Glen was taken away due to penalties for not meeting the drivers minimum drive time requirement when the race was red-flagged and stopped for a lengthy period. Hopes for a “real” win in Canada were dashed when the right rear wheel came off the car on lap five, requiring an unplanned pit stop and taking them out of the race. They ultimately finished fifth out of six cars in GTD Pro. “It was a tough day,” said John Edwards, who shares the #25 car with Connor de Phillippi. “We need to investigate why the wheel came off. It did not appear to have been left loose. The team did a great job to get us back on the lead lap with our strategy, but it was not our day.” The GTD Pro class was won by the Canadian Pfaff Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet.
In the GTD class, Turner Motorsport finished in fourth with drivers Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley driving the #96 M4 GT3, with a second straight class win going to the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driven by Roman De Angelis and Maxime Martin. Martin is a former BMW works driver. The Paul Miller Racing #1 M4 GT3 of Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow finished in fifth, which gave them enough points to keep the lead in the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup championship.
Turner Motorsport was hoping to build some momentum in the Michelin Pilot Challenge series after Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern won in their M4 GT4 at Watkins Glen last weekend. As it turned out, the duo never even started the race, as Machavern crashed in qualifying and there wasn’t enough time to repair it in time for the race. Vin Barletta qualified the #96 Turner Motorsport M4 GT4 that he shares with Robby Foley in eleventh and they finished in eighth as Mercedes finished one-two in the GS class. The Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 of Greg Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan finished in tenth.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Michelin Pilot Challenge compete next at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on the weekend of July 15th-16th. —David Haueter
[Photos by LAT Images]