Scott Hargrove has taken victory in the opening race of the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama in an impressive way, holding off Jake Eidson for most of the race.
While Eidson started the race from pole position it wouldn’t be too long before Hargrove would challenge for the lead. Trenton Estep looked like a challenger for the front of the pack from the start of the race as he looked to challenge heading in to the first corner; Thankfully for Eidson and Hargrove he pulled back in line and waited to pick up the pieces should something go wrong in front. Hargrove would take the lead just before the full course caution in a bold around-the-outside move through Turn 1.
A little further back Roman De Angelis was getting the business done in the Gold Class, the 16-year-old pole sitter was showing up series veterans as he worked his way through the filed in the older machinery.
The race was punctuated with two full-yellow periods that saw the field line up behind the safety car, the first period was triggered as Orey Fidani and Michael de Quesada got together as they spun out of turn 16. While the original incident was fairly low key, chaos ensued as Victor Gomez IV and Anthony Imperato got caught up in the incident.
The second of the full-yellow period came when Mark Kvamme spun heading in to turn 17 and ended in the tyre barrier, this incident itself was nothing big, it was Fred Kaimer who would cause the flags to come out as he was caught out by the slowing cars heading in to turn 17 and overshot the corner with a one way ticket deep in to the barriers.
With three minutes to go the track went green and it was a sprint to the finish, Hargrove defended well but Eidson was looking very threatening. As the seconds counted down and the white flags came out it was clear that the Pfaff Motorsports driver had everything under control and would go on to take the first victory of the season with Eidson finishing 0.541 seconds down. Trenton Estep brought his JDX Racing car home for the final podium position in Platinum.
Speaking after the race Hargrove said, “Right from the second I jumped into this new 2017 991.2 Cup car I felt like I was right at home. A bit more power, the car moves around a little bit more on you so you have to manhandle it a little bit more.
“The Pfaff Motorsports guys did a really good job on setting it up and it was really really good over the long run. Jake (Eidson) was right there, started on pole and I had a good car at the beginning and was able to put the pressure on him. I stuck my nose in and was able to get the spot in Turn 1, which I’m sure looked pretty cool from the outside. I can’t wait to see the replay.
“For the rest of the race it was smooth sailing and then the yellows made it a little interesting, especially there at the end. Two lap dash to the end. I’m just loving driving these cars and can’t wait to come back and do it again.”
Romain De Angelis dominated the Gold class as he took an impressive seventh place overall in the 2014 Porsche 991, Marco Cirone took second in class but couldn’t challenge, eventually finishing 4.919 seconds down from De Angelis with Kurt Fazekas collecting third place a further 5.744 seconds down.
De Angelis was delighted with the class win, “It was pretty busy out there, exciting.” he said. I’m happy we kept it clean throughout the whole race. The car was super good. It got to where I had a good enough gap in Gold so I could start fighting with the Platinum cars to see if I could get a good overall position. We worked our way up to seventh, so I am happy with that.”
In the Masters class Jeff Mosing topped the timesheets ahead of David Baker and Shaun McKaigue.
“The first race is always good to get behind me without virtually any damage to the car.” said Mosing. “I just want to get out there and get that first round done.
“It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, somebody dumped some radiator fluid over there in 16, but I wasn’t able to recognize it in time. Spun off and had to work my way back up to tenth overall.
“I’m really excited for the TOPP Racing team and I am really enjoying this brand new Porsche 2017 Cup car. It’s a total blast to drive. Thanks to Porsche, IMSA, Yokohama Tire, and to everyone else.”