J. WALLY NESBITT Special To The Standard
BOWMANVILLE: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship made its sole Canadian appearance last weekend, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. 37 various sports racing cars, everything from the exotic prototypes to production-based machinery, raced two hours and 40 minutes, around the four-kilometre CTMP circuit, with the outright win claimed by the No. 31 Action Express Corvette prototype, driven by Dame Cameron and Eric Curran.
Although the prototype cars are generally considered to be the crowd favourite, many in attendance, at CTMP this weekend, were focusing their attention on the red-white and blue, liveried Ford GT cars.
Coming off of a GTLM class victory, in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, these Chip Ganassi Racing-entered cars were proclaimed the Great American Conquerors, the cars that beat the best from Germany, Italy and Japan.
The only problem is, this was a Canadian project.
Conceived, designed, fabricated and refined by Markham, ON’s Multimatic Motorsports, the Ford GT was put through its formative testing, by former Uxbridge resident (and previous winner of the 24 Heures du Mans) Scott Maxwell.
Untold laps around the Canadian Tire and Calabogie Motorsports Parks tracks, with Maxwell at the wheel, filled printout after printout of data, all used to develop the car into a race ready, potential winner.
Following nearly two years of intensive development, the Ford GT cars were delivered to the Ganassi shops, where they were entrusted to team drivers Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Joey Hand and Dirk Muller.
Four cars, competing under the Ganassi Racing banner, were sent to Le Mans, where, in a dramatic show of force, the GTs finished first, third and fourth, with the No. 86 car of Hand, Muller and Sebastien Bourdais claiming the class victory.
Another class win, in the Sahlens Six Hours of the (Watkins) Glen, one week prior to the Canadian race date, prompted the IMSA sanctioning body, to adjust their Balance of Performance (BoP), adding 15 kilograms of weight and reducing the turbo boost of the Fords, while lessening the minimum weights and providing air intake allowances, for the Corvettes and Porsche entries.
Despite this handicap, the No. 67 Briscoe/ Westbrook Ford GT captured the GTLM class victory at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, finishing in front of the No. 4 Gavin/ Milner and No. 3 Garcia/ Magnussen Corvettes.
Sadly, and perhaps unjustly, Scott Maxwell’s name appears nowhere on the Ford GT driver’s roster. But while Chip Ganassi may have no more use for Maxwell’s skills, his talent is not being wasted, as he, along with teammate Billy Johnson, cruised their Multimatic-prepared No. 15 Ford Mustang to the overall victory, in the 150 minute Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
“This was the one I wanted. It’s pretty special,” remarked Maxwell. “My wife and kids are here, the only one who isn’t is my Dad (George). It’s his birthday and he’s not doing well.”
Texan, Nikko Reger and Mark Drennan, from San Jose, captured victories during the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup. Ten local race fans were able to enjoy the action-packed race weekend, with passes provided by the Mazda MX-5 Cup organizers.
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