Johnny O'Connell led from the drop of the flag in his #3 Cadillac Racing ATS-VR GT3 to take yesterday’s GT Round 8 win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). Bryan Heitkotter, took the GTA win, with Colin Thompson claiming another victory in the GT Cup presented by MOMO class.
O’Connell also had the fastest lap in yesterday’s race, putting him on the pole today. Kevin Estre (#9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3), winner of Rounds 6 and 7 at Barber, started on the outside of Row 1, with Olivier Beretta (#61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) and Chris Dyson (#16 Bentley Racing Continental GT3) making up Row 2. Heitkotter was the top GTA qualifier, with Thompson topping GT Cup.
JD Davison (#33 AE/Replay XD Nissan GT-R GT3) took P4 from Dyson through the first series of turns, the Top 3 holding their positions. Five minutes into the 50-min race Estre began pressuring O’Connell. The yellow flag flew a few minutes later, with Heitkotter still out front in GTA and Thompson in GT Cup.
Beretta passed Estre on the restart. Estre fought back with Davison in tow. Estre and Beretta made contact. Both dropped through the field, moving Davison to P2, Dyson to P4, and the sister Bentley driven by Butch Leitzinger in P3. Davison also started to fall, however, pulling to the side of the track with damage suffered during the three-car scrum. Mike Skeen (#2 DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra moved into fourth.
At this point, the race began an extended green-flag run. By lap 18 Leitzinger and his Bentley were in a good rhythm and pressuring O'Connell and his Cadillac. This duel remained in place for the balance of the race, O’Connell taking the victory by 0.539 sec. Behind Leitzinger were Dyson, Skeen, and Heitkotter.
"I’m physically exhausted,” said O’Connell. “It was a really tough race. This track is physical, you hold the g loads so long and the cockpit of that car is pretty darn hot. I got a really good start then on the restart I could see Kevin Estre was getting pretty cagy. I out-caged him and as he and Beretta got involved I knew we had two really good drivers with pretty big egos battling and it was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t have a radio so when I saw them gone and there were only Bentleys I figured it was Butch and I knew he would be coming. I said to myself just hit your marks. When you can race that hard with somebody of his caliber we were both really pleased."
Heitkotter also repeated, taking the GTA win. “What can I say Canada has been good to me,” he remarked. “It’s my first time here and I thought I’d like this place, and I was right.”
Lorenzo Trefethen (#13 ANSA Motorsports) won GT Cup, his first career victory. "I would like to dedicate this win, my first in professional racing, to Dan Fredinburg,” said Trefethen. “He had a great spirit and I know he would have loved to see this today. If you would like to donate to the relief efforts after the earthquake in Nepal go to www.crowdrise.com/celebratingdan.”