Pirelli World Challenge’s GT classes double up in Canada (SPOILER)

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Writer’s Note: The following is a recap of this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge races from the streets of Toronto. NBCSN will broadcast the Toronto races on Sunday, Aug. 10, at 1:30 p.m. ET. If you don’t want to know who won until then, we suggest you find another post to read here on MotorSportsTalk…

The Pirelli World Challenge’s GT-based classes – that’s GT, GTS, and the GT-A subcategory – had their own “2inT.O.” doubleheader this past weekend on the 1.75-mile Honda Indy Toronto street course.

Saturday’s Round 9 started off inauspiciously with a multi-car incident that was triggered by contact between Bret Curtis and Brent Holden and ultimately blocked up Turn 1. The melee knocked GTS polesitter Nic Jonsson and several others out of the running; at least 10 cars came away with some sort of minor damage or issue.

On the restart at Lap 7, British sports car veteran Nick Tandy got ahead of a good battle for second in GT and overall between Canada’s own Kuno Wittmer and Johnny O’Connell. While that progressed, a race for top honors in GTS heated up between Dean Martin, Lawson Aschenbach, and Jack Roush, Jr.

A second caution on Lap 20 bunched up the field for a restart with just over five minutes left, but Tandy was able to stave off Wittmer, who applied heavy pressure before coming up half a second shy of Tandy for the GT and overall win. O’Connell earned a third-place and podium finish.

Back in GTS, Martin and Aschenbach had one final scrap for the win but it was Martin who hung on for the class victory over Aschenbach and third-place Roush.

In GT-A, Marcelo Hahn claimed the checkered flag after a Lap 20 incident took out teammate and class leader at the time Albert von Thurn und Taxis. Michael Mills and Henrik Hedman rounded out the GT-A podium.

Sunday’s Round 10 in GT/GTS/GT-A had what’s assumed to be a satisfying outcome for the home fans as a pair of Canadians scored wins.

Wittmer and Tandy continued their duel from Saturday in GT, with both men passing pole sitter Mike Skeen within the first seven laps. Their fight continued after a Lap 13 caution, but ended on Lap 23 when Wittmer and Tandy made contact in Turn 1.

Said contact sent Tandy spinning out and he was then hit by an oncoming Nick Mancuso, ending both of their races. Wittmer, a native of Montreal, would lead Anthony Lazzaro and Skeen to the checkered flag.

In GTS, Toronto’s Mark Wilkins started from the pole but had his work cut out for him as he sought to hold back a group of five drivers. Marc Udell had the best shot at Wilkins, often pulling within striking distance through the corners before putting up a last-lap attack.

Udell attempted to pass Wilkins on the outside in Turn 11 coming to the checkered flag, but Wilkins had just enough to beat him to the stripe. The margin of victory – 0.039 of a second – became the closest in GTS class history. Behind them, Roush got his second P3 finish of the weekend.

After finishing second in GT-A on Saturday, Mills went one spot better after leading wire-to-wire. Dan Knox was runner-up, and Hedman again came home third.

The Pirelli World Challenge’s next event is an “all skate” on Aug. 1-3 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. GT/GTS/GT-A will have Rounds 11 and 12, while the TC/TCB/TC-A classes return to action for Rounds 9 and 10.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.