Mike Skeen closed out a Pirelli World Challenge GT weekend sweep Sunday with a flag-to-flag win at the Motul Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Grand Prix Presented by Optima Batteries. Skeen dominated the doubleheader weekend in his No. 02 Hawk Performance Chevrolet Corvette.
In GTS competition, Mark Wilkins (ABOVE) earned his first-career series win, providing Kia with its second series win and the weekend sweep.
Skeen started from the pole and took the lead from the standing start while chaos ensued behind on the GTS grid. Starting third in GTS, Toronto's Aaron Povoledo tried to shoot the gap between the front row Kias of Wilkins and Michael Galati, but ended up with his No. 26 Total Lubricants/Dell Cherries Ford Mustang Boss 302S across Galati's nose and hard into the left-side wall. Povoledo was treated and released from track medical.
Following six laps of clean-up, Skeen got away cleanly and sped away to a 12.284-second victory over Lawson Aschenbach's No. 1 TruSpeed/Privacy Star/EnTrust Porsche 911 GT3, averaging 93.231mph over the 31-lap, 76.229-mile race.
“That was a great race,” Skeen said. “We got that early caution, but other than that, the race went green the whole time. [Alex] Figge gave me a good little run there in Turn One. He got a good start, which we knew he would. Fortunately, we raced nice and clean two-wide through Turn One and we came out on top. From there, we were just biding our time and setting our pace. We had a good pace in the car so we could work at our own pace through traffic, manage the GTS guys. We got through clean without any scratches.”
Skeen set a new Canadian Tire Motorsport Park track record, turning a 1:20.425 (110.070mph).
Aschenbach started fifth but moved to fourth at the start. Alex Figge also advanced one spot in his No. 9 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60, around point leader Johnny O'Connell's No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R into second. At the end of lap six, O'Connell jumped inside Figge in Turn 10 for second, a move that earned him the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race.
O'Connell opened a gap on Figge, who had to fend off Aschenbach, Steve Ott's No. 85 Racing For Our Heroes/Loctite Porsche 911 GT3 and the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R of Andy Pilgrim over the next 10 laps.
On lap 16, Aschenbach moved to third around Figge. A dozen laps later, third became second, when O'Connell had to pit with a flat tire.
“I'm not going to lie – I was a little bit happy when I saw O'Connell slow down, because I don't want him to run away with this championship,” Aschenbach said. “I feel like we are going to give it our all the whole time and hopefully we can get it at the end.
“We kind of knew coming in that this was not the best track for us so we were a little bit worried. Obviously missing the test day Friday hurt us. We were about a day behind. But, I've got to say hats off to TruSpeed and all of our sponsors Privacy Star and Entrust. We had a good car. I think it was about as good as it could be.”
Figge sliced through traffic and held off Ott and Pilgrim to finish third in the lone K-PAX Volvo racing Sunday. Teammate Randy Pobst cheered from the sidelines after surviving a major fire in his team car on Saturday.
Ott finished the weekend with a third on Saturday and a fourth Sunday for his career-best weekend. Pilgrim's fifth place finish was some redemption after he had a flat left-front tire, like teammate O'Connell, on Saturday.
O'Connell maintained the provisional point leader in GT, with 1083, 177 ahead of teammate Pilgrim (906). Aschenbach is third, with 873, followed by Figge (742) and Skeen (711), who entered the weekend 10th in points. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Cadillac holds a six-point lead over Porsche, 65 to 59, followed by Volvo (39) and a resurgent Chevrolet (28).