The eighth round of the Prototype and GT Challenge series is at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (aka Mosport) in Ontario, Canada.  The 10 turn, 2.459 mile (3.957 km) circuit marks the series’ second visit to Canada, and the second week in a row we test the driver’s skills at a fast and skinny circuit. Just like Laguna Seca last week, nearly all of the racing at Mosport is decided by how well you get through traffic. Going into the week, drivers Paul Ilbrink, William Levesque and Roope Turkkila led the championship in the HPD, Corvette and Ford GT classes and hoped to maintain their championship leads after Mosport.

Big fields and heavy traffic was the storyline all week at Mosport.

The prototype main race for the week was hectic, to say the least.  Csaba Volyka Jr started on pole followed by Mack Bakkum and Vincenzo Amico.  After the first lap Amico had already made his way by Bakkum for the second spot, dropping Bakkum down to third.  Volyka would try and shoot out to an early lead before traffic.  The one second margin was not enough, and on Lap Five the HPD field was already knocking on the back of the Ford GT class. Not coincidentally, Lap Five also saw a lead change as Amico grabbed the top spot from Volyka.  The very next lap the two swapped the lead again but on Lap Seven Volyka made a mistake and found himself third behind leader Amico and Bakkum.

The three sim-racers continued nose-to-tail until Lap 14 when Volyka retired, elevating Shamar Bennet to third. Eleven laps later, Amico went off-track, relinquishing first place to Bakkum who had been stalking the leader for many laps.  In fact, Amico dropped to third position as a result of his Lap 25 “off,” and on the very next lap he lost control and went off again, dropping down the field even further.

Amico’s misadventures left Bakkum leading from Bennet and Daniel Lee to the finish, bringing home good points toward their run in the HPD championship.

Ilbrink has nearly a 300 point lead over Dominik E Batz after the eighth round, and Stephane Schodduyn is not far behind Batz with one less week counted.  While these three seem to be the future championship podium, there doesn’t seem to be a definite order yet, so in the end, anything can happen.

Ilbrink and Batz still looking good after Mosport.

The Corvette field had a very strong main race with some new faces at the top.  The grid was set with Kay Kaschube on pole followed by Joni Hagner and Marcel Wiemers.  Kaschube and Hagner proved early they were the class of the field as they both set sail away from the rest of the pack, while Wiemers also showed strength as he pulled away from the pack in an effort to secure a podium finish.  Lap 12 saw Hagner getting caught in traffic, allowing Kaschube to pull a gap. However, the next seven laps witnessed a strong and successful attempt by Hagner to reel-in Kaschube, then ride along directly behind waiting for the leader to to make a mistake.

Hagner mirroring Kaschube lap after lap.

Kaschube’s mistake would come, but not in the sense some would think.  The two leaders raced nose-to-tail until the very last lap when, along the back straight, only three corners from the finish, Kaschube’s C6R started sputtering.  Kaschube had no choice but to let Hagner past as he ran out of fuel entering Turn Eight.  While Hagner successfully negotiated the final two turns to take the win, Kaschube held-on to second over a fast-closing Wiemers.

Departing Canada, the Corvette championship still has Levesque on top followed by Timo Verhoest with a new face in the mix — Felipe Persona — currently sitting third in the championship.

Hagner passes a sputtering Kaschube on the final pull up the Mario Andretti Straightaway.

Ford GT would also boast a strong grid as Phil Diaz sat on pole over Sebastian Job with Jonathan Fuller and Ermanno I Palumbo rounding out the top four.  The green flag waved and the four set a torrid pace early, running nose-to-tail and building a gap over the rest of the field.  Lap Three saw Diaz and Job go side-by-side through Turns Eight and Nine before door-to-door contact in Nine sent Diaz sliding off with a slightly damaged car.  This left the top three of Job, Fuller and Palumbo vying for the victory.  While all three raced their away from the rest of the field, Job and Fuller were able to build a healthy gap between themselves and Palumbo.

The Ford GTs put on quite a show at Mosport.

While Job continued to lead, Fuller followed along roughly a second in the distance, with traffic playing a large role in the separation.  On lap 17, Job got the short end of the stick in traffic, allowing Fuller to get all the way to his rear bumper.  The two remain nose-to-tail, trading the faster lap time each and every lap.  Eventually, Fuller got a great run out of Moss (Turn Five) on Lap 27 as he tried to set-up Job for an outside pass entering Turn Eight.  While this attempt didn’t work, Fuller knew he could utilize his stronger exit out of Moss for the future.

The 25th and final lap began with Fuller no more than three car lengths behind Job as they plunged into Turn One.  The two would have clean track until the end of the Andretti straight and Turn Eight.  Fuller got another great launch out of Moss but that wasn’t the decisive factor.  Rather, a lapping Corvette got on the inside of Job entering Turn Eight, and when Job ran wide, Fuller followed the Corvette through to draw even with Job.  Fuller and Job remained side by side through turn nine and into the final corner where, with the inside line, Fuller had the clear advantage and pulled ahead of Job to take the victory. For his part, Palumbo had a quiet but strong run to the third position, less than three seconds back.  The Ford GT championship is still close as Roope Turkkila continues to lead, followed by Jason Mizzi and Diaz.

Fuller and Job side-by-side into the final corner . . .

[6, Fuller and Job side by side into the final corner of the race] The final checkered flag fell on the eighth round of the Prototype and GT Challenge season with Paul Ilbrink, William Levesque and Roope Turkkila leading the championships for HPD, Corvette and Ford GT respectively.  Levesque’s title chances are pretty much confirmed as he has a 400 point lead over second place in the standings.  Ilbrink’s chances in HPD are getting better as he extended his lead to 280 points.  On the other hand, Turkilla currently leads the Ford GT standings by only 101 points, so that championship is far from over.

Next week the HPDs, Corvettes and Ford GTs journey to the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the ninth round of the season, which promises to be one of the best rounds of the season.

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