CANADIAN TIRE MOTORSPORTS PARK: REWIND
Round 5 of the 2016 Continental Tires SportsCar Challenge at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park saw CJ Wilson find the podium but once again the team from Austin missed out on the elusive top step as the #33 ONE Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche finished runner up for the second time in three races.
Despite the reduced GS field the racing was intense for the duration of the two and a half hour race around the historic 2.459 mile Ontario track. After his final stop for fuel and four tires on lap 62, Marc Miller set about reeling in and catching the Compass 360 Mustang of Pierre Kleinubing who had only taken two new Continental tires on his final stop. Over the next 22 laps Miller gradually caught the powerful V8 Ford getting by for good exiting Turn 10 on lap 83. With under 20 minutes remaining, the leading Mustang of Billy Johnson was out of reach and the Michigan driver had to settle for second place.
Race week began on Thursday with a promoter test day which should have been used to help local rookie, Danny Burkett, familiarize himself with what in theory should be his home track. Unfortunately a number of red flag stoppages meant that the Manitoba born driver’s seat time was extremely limited. This was further compounded by rain which greeted the drivers for their first of two practice sessions on Friday morning. “It was a busy day, we had our first session at 9am and obviously that was interrupted by red flags, I think I got one full lap in the wet.” explained a clearly frustrated Burkett. “We had a serious meeting of the minds to try and figure out a set up that was going to work with our limited track time. I got more comfortable with every lap I did and even the fifteen minute qualifying session was very valuable in helping me get even more settled into the car, particularly on brand new rubber.”
The late afternoon qualifying session fell into a now familiar pattern as Burkett battled with Multimatic’s Scott Maxwell for pole position. Ultimately, Burkett posted a time good enough for P2 and his fourth front row start in five races. “I’m not too disappointed with that, we did out qualify one of the Mustangs so one for two is not bad,” the Manitoba born Burkett explained.
The horsepower and torque advantage of the Mustang showed at the green flag of Saturday’s race as Paul Holton’s Compass 360 Mustang was able to pass Burkett at the drop of the green flag. For the next hour the 21 year old Burkett looked after his tires and waited for the leading Mustangs to come back to him as they used up their own Continental rubber. Burkett made his move at Turn 10 on Lap 44 just before the first full course yellow fell. This allowed him to pit for a driver change, fuel and four fresh tires.
Marc Miller picked up where Burkett left off holding down second place until the final fuel stop was made, the team’s decision to take four tires meant that the Compass 360 Mustang was able to regain P2 having saved time in the pits by only taking two tires. This set up the #33 car’s race to the finish and another runner up spot.
Burkett was generally pleased with the result and his performance in the opening stint. “We definitely had a little bit more slippery car than we thought we would have. We had a little bit more oversteer than I would have liked but I was able to adjust to it and by the end of the stint I had enough to get by the Compass 360 Mustang.”
Marc Miller had few complaints about the result and performance. “Strategy, the car, everything was pretty good. We took four tires they took two. We were able to close in and get one of the Mustangs. Ultimately all we could do was match the pace of the Multimatic car. Out of the box they were great all week. We have never tested here and to be honest it’s great to leave with a second, we lost some ground to the leaders in points but we are more solidly second in points now and we hope we can take this momentum into the next race at Lime Rock. We just need to keep doing what we are doing. We had maybe three potential wins taken from us this season, this would have been a tough one to get but the others really were in our clutches. We just have to go and win the next race and hope things sway back our way.”
Miller’s teammate had the final positive words “It was a good points day today, we definitely salvaged something from last week at Watkins Glen. It gives us some momentum heading into Lime Rock and we are looking forward to getting our first victory of the season there.”
Round 6 of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge takes place on Saturday, July 23rd at Lime Rock Park, at 10:00am EST. You can watch the race live on www.imsa.com or listen via IMSA Radio at www.radiolemans.com. You can also watch via the dedicated IMSA App. There will also be lap-by-lap updates via the Official CJ Wilson Racing Twitter feed @CJWilsonRacing.