While the first race of the Rolex 24 weekend is the Ferrari Challenge, the REAL first event of the weekend is the BMW Performance 200 for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. Based on cars that most of us might actually buy in a new car dealership, the series offers hard core door to door racing action that the fans can relate to.
Qualifying for the two and a half hour race took place in the rain yesterday, where the superior wet handling of the Rum Bum Porsche landed it on the pole. In the dry today however, the Ford Shelby GT350 RC potentially might have had an edge.
From the green flag at about 1:45 until 3:56, the Porsche was to be the car to beat, until Billy Johnson made a pass attempt that stuck in the Multimatic #15 Shelby. While that pass didn’t win the race, it showed that the machine, which was developed in Markham, Ontario, had the pace to truly challenge Hugh Plumb in the Porsche.
While those two battled for the lead, the #76 Shelby of Pierre Kleinubing and Paul Holton was never more than a few seconds behind.
Between on track battling and pit stop strategy, the trio were the class of the field, until the last 20 minutes or so of the race, when Plumb suddenly disappeared into the pits. A faulty fuel pump was reported to be the problem, leaving the Ford/Multimatic entry and the Compass 360 entry (which is the first GT350RC customer car) to duke it out. While traffic brought the two cars closer together, the #76 was never in a position to attack for a win.
When the checkers flew, it was the Comstock Racing liveried factory car of Torontonian Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson that took the win. The Toronto based Compass 360 #76 was in second spot, while the CJ Wilson Racing #33 Porsche Cayman GT4 piloted by Marc Miller and Winnipeg driver Daniel Burkett took third spot.
A great day for Canadian racers and a good start to the season for a couple of Canadian teams!