High-speed, demanding and unforgiving, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park can be one of the most ferocious tracks in North America. On the Castrol Victoria Day Speedfest Weekend it bit even those who conquered it during Round 3 of the Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup North America, May 18-20. Jeff Green came away with two wins in the 1500 class, as did Comeau in the 1340 class. Gustavo Rafols and Greg Gorski won in the wet, and Terry Olson took a clean sweep in the Masters class.
A sea of motorhomes, grills, flags and fans surrounded Canada’s original Formula 1 venue for an action-packed weekend which billed Radical alongside NASCAR, Pirelli World Challenge and the Canadian Touring Car Championship.
With the 19 Radical drivers representing both sides of the boarder, the great sporting rivalry that is CAN-AM competition drew out plenty of big performances.
During practice American and Radical guru Jeff Green (Team Stradale) lapped the 2.459-mile circuit in 1:18.994 to decimate the previous unofficial 1500 class lap record of 1:19.597 set by Richard Thomas in qualifying during the 2016 Radical Cup event. The performance no doubt aided by the switch to Hankook tires for the 2018 season.
Green continued his pace in qualifying to take the outright pole position with a 1:19.395, impressively beating the V8 powered SR8 of Canadian Bruce McIntyre (Radical Canada, Masters) who would share the front row for Race 1. The pair were two of four drivers to go under 1 minute and 20 seconds, and remarkably the top seven drivers in qualifying were covered by less than a second.
Completing Friday in text book fashion, Green lead from start to finish to take the outright victory and set a new official 1500 class lap record of 1:19.399, eclipsing George Kurtz’s long held benchmark of 1:20.342 from 2014.
Green won the 1500 class in dominant fashion over points leader Indy Al Miller (One Motorsports), who critically finished in front of championship rival Greg Gorski (One Motorsports).
Terry Olson (WISKO Racing) finished second outright and first in the Masters class, reversing fortunes with the strong qualifying McIntyre, who fell back through the field on his way to claim second in class.The only major incident in Race 1 was a crash involving Will Lin (Radical Northwest / Cameron Racing, 1500), Louis Schriber (Team Stradale, 1340) and Dan Earle (SCC Autosport, 1340), which resulted in Lin making significant contact with the pit lane entry wall, and Earle being handed a drive through penalty.
The race featured a number of standout performances in the 1340 class. Tim Sanderson (Rilli Racing / Northwest Atlantic Motorsports) came from 14th on the grid to finish ninth overall and fifth in class, while the drive of the day went to Matt Graham (Radical Canada), who rose from the final row of the grid to finish fourth in class behind Greg Boland (SCC Autosport). Second placed Rafols was also outstanding. The young gun set a new official 1340 class lap record of 1:20.327, which must have infuriated race winner Antoine Comeau, who and held the record since 2016 with a 1:20.509.
In fact, given his pace, many were wondering what might have been if Rafols hadn’t got stuck behind the 1500s of Miller and Gorski in Race 1. Those questions were soon answered. Saturday morning saw the heavens open, and the young Puerto Rican star in extremely treacherous conditions.
Before the race had even begun, the track had claimed a number of victims including pole sitter Green, who spun on the first of three parade laps. Anir Dhir (Racing Analytics, 1340) was by far the unluckiest casualty– heavy contact with the wall ended his race and weekend prematurely– and extended the safety car period.
Once the green flag finally flew, the field got through Turn 1 and Turn 2 unscathed before Rafols was lucky to avoid a spinning Miller in Turn 3. This helped the WISKO Racing driver advance into second place behind race leader, and eventual Masters Class winner Olson.
By Lap 10 Rafols had cleared Olson and, in what was his first ever rain race in a car, began to school the field. As his father nervously looked on Rafols never put a foot wrong, even once he came under pressure of the hard charging Comeau. In fact, it was the reigning champ who eventually cracked, spinning though Turn 9 in a final act of desperation to try and deny the Puerto Rican of his first ever Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup win.
Having taken the outright victory against much faster machinery, as well as the 1340 class win, Rafols impressed the Pirelli World Challenge paddock as did Matt Graham who clinched second in class after capitalizing on Comeau’s demise to third.
Sanderson again had a strong run from the back of the grid to set a time good enough for Race 3’s second row on his way to fourth in class, while Alan Shaw (Rilli Racing) completed the top five in the 1340 class.
Gorski and Miller thrilled the fans with an amazing dual. The pair entered Turn 1 side by side on a number of laps, traded places at Turn 5 and both survived spins. In the end Miller’s late race 360 at Turn 8 cost him the win, but he gave it his all until the final corner, with an attempt around the outside of Gorski seeing Miller on the grass as the pair approached the line in a photo finish. It wasn’t enough, and Gorski claimed a well-earned win over his championship rival. Green recovered to take third in the 1500 class, with Lin finishing fourth. McIntyre survived to take second in the Masters Class.
Elation from the previous day’s win quickly turned to heartache for Rafols come Sunday morning, just as had happened to Green 24 hours prior. A fuel leak was spotted from his machine as it was being warmed-up on the grid, forcing Rafols to retire.
Chris Souliotis (1340) then added to WISKO Racing’s woes, spinning in Turn 2 to bring out a brief safety car on Lap 4. Pole-sitter Miller continued command of the field as racing resumed and the mandatory pit stop window opened.
Green perfected the pit stop to leapfrog Miller to take his second 1500 class win of the weekend. Gorski finished third. Fourth placed Lin (1500) was again in the wars, this time on the receiving end of a tap from Boland (1340), while SCC Autosport teammate Earle made up for Boland’s demise, finishing fourth in the 1340 class.
Comeau gave Team Stradale their second win for the day, with Graham (2nd) and Shaw (3rd) making it an all Canadian 1340 podium much to the delight of the fans.
Olson put his SR8 in its rightful place, to claim the outright win and the Masters class win– his third for the weekend– while McIntyre worked his way up to fourth outright and second in class.
The Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup now heads west to Utah Motorsports Campus with Pirelli World Challenge for Round 4, August 10-12.
Click for complete race results.