The Canadian auto racing landscape is about to get a little more serious with the recent announcement from Porsche Canada that the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge will begin tearing up the tarmac on Canadian soil starting May 14 at Calabogie Motorsports Park, 100 clicks northwest of downtown Ottawa. That race will be followed by events at Circuit ICAR in Québec and Mosport in Bowmanville, ON as part of that circuit’s round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
Sponsored in part by The International Motorsports Association (IMSA) and Porsche and made up entirely of the Porsche GT3 Cup model, Porsche says the series is to be a breeding ground for racers preparing to make their way to the ALMS, which is the premier road-racing series that takes place on North American soil.
The GT3 Cup model is an interesting animal as it is produced on the same line as Porsche’s road going cars, not in some skunkworks where you need level 5 clearance just to walk in the doors. Power from the flat-6 (450 HP) is the same as the production version of the GT3 RS. Where the similarities end are the bare-bones interior fixed with a roll cage instead of a rear bench seat, no passenger seat and various other aerodynamic addenda like a big, adjustable rear wing and different suspension.
One make challenge series involving Porsche and other manufacturers ranging from Ferrari to Mazda have been around in various forms throughout Europe, the United Arab Emirates and USA for quite sometime now (usually in a supporting role of bigger-name series like Formula 1 or Deutsche Touringwagen Meisterschaft), but absent from Canada. Its re-emergence in our fair country (a Porsche one make-series was hosted in Canada for a brief time in the 1980s), while obviously a marketing manoeuvre by Porsche, speaks volumes about what the manufacturer thinks about the Canadian racing landscape, as well as the greater automotive landscape in which it operates.
And before you start writing this one off because of the lack of model variety across the grid, know that one-makes series like this are tightly regluated. That means a team can’t just go out and drop in a 620 HP twin-turbo motor from a GT2 RS and go; there are strict rules as to what can and can’t be done to the cars, meaning the owness is on the drivers and their crews to really push it to win, making for some tight and exciting racing.
In a statement, Joe Lawrence, President and CEO of Porsche Canada said that “Canada has always been a part of the Porsche motorsport family…It’s great to once again have a Canadian series and Porsche Canada looks forward to playing a more active role in the worldwide Porsche motorsport community.”
Perhaps even more illuminating are the words of Jens Walther, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, who said that “(t)he fact that there is enough interest (from Porsche Canada) to start their own Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge is not only a testament to the reputation of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, but of Porsche Canada’s commitment and IMSA’s willingness to meet the demand of the Canadian motorsports market.”