Hargrove, Morad making their mark in IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Canada ranks

Morad (left) and Hargrove (center) are two Canadian stars. Photo courtesy of IMSA
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It’s easy to forget that Scott Hargrove and Daniel Morad are two of the most talented Canadians in racing, and both have added sports cars to their repertoire after going through the ladder in North American open-wheel racing (Hargrove still currently is, albeit temporarily sidelined from Indy Lights).

So it was good to get a chance to see them in person this past weekend on the streets of Exhibition Place in Toronto banging wheels, trading victories, and continuing their bout for IMSA’s Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama championship.

It’s a title Hargrove has won before (2014) and one Morad came close to winning (last year), and with just two more race weekends remaining at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec (August 12-14) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Sept. 2-4), it’s game on between the two for this year’s title after this weekend.

Morad inherited a lucky win on Saturday in the No. 17 Porsche Centre Oakville/Alegra Motorsports Porsche. He’d been running more than 10 seconds in arrear of Hargrove, before the erstwhile dominant driver of the day in his No. 28 OpenRoad Racing Porsche lost drive with just over 12 minutes left in the 45-minute race.

Hargrove, meanwhile, bounced back with a dominant win on Sunday – and closed to within three points of Morad for the championship lead.

But Morad may have saved his title hopes with an impressive pass on the final lap. He passed Zach Robichon on the final lap to salvage second place, after running wide in a turn early in the race and dropping to fifth place.

“I had one opportunity going into the hairpin,” Morad explained. “He (Zach Robichon) broke very early into Turn 3, but I wanted to pick a spot where he didn’t expect it. I did the same move to Scott (Hargrove) last year to win in the rain. I like that spot. I’m good on the brakes, and in the NASCAR race (Saturday), I was very strong there.

“So I was confident going into Turn 8, and it was from very far back. I wanted to make sure I left enough space so he didn’t defend. I sandbagged a little bit going around the carousel. I knew I was strong, keeping it flat through the kink in (Turn) 7, and I just lunged down the inside, perfectly under control. I was very surprised the car just stuck.

“All the credit to the team for giving me such an amazing car. Yesterday I didn’t have the car to win, but we got the win. But today we made an adjustment that we needed, and the car was incredible. That pass was probably the best pass of my life, and that was one of the drives of my life to come back and get those two vital points for the championship to keep the lead.”

Hargrove, meanwhile, hailed his competitor on the day even as he felt so thankful to be in the groove and back on top on Sunday.

“When Daniel (Morad) went off, I thought I was going to make up a lot of points, so hats off to him to getting back up to second,” Hargrove said. “That’s pretty impressive. In my head I thought I was going to take the points lead back, and then I found out he finished second, so that was a little disappointing. The car was phenomenal. The OpenRoad car was unreal this whole weekend. Same boat yesterday, but we made up for it today. I’m happy and ready to continue this exact same thing the rest of the year.”

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Hargrove, 21, from Tsawwassen, British Columbia, has pivoted back to Porsches in recent months after running the first half of the Indy Lights season with Team Pelfrey, through the Freedom 100.

Beyond racing in Porsche GT3 Canada, Hargrove also made his first appearance a week ago in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, following the Watkins Glen International weekend. And perhaps true to form, he won a race at the Chang International Circuit By Buriram United in Thailand.

Morad’s adventures came more in the same weekend in Toronto. The 26-year-old, racing on home soil, pulled double duty this weekend between a guest, last-minute appearance in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series with his Alegra Motorsports team, standing in for Carlos de Quesada in the team’s No. 06 Dodge (more here from RacingNorth.ca).

“I get the call Friday morning – never having sat in the car before – and they say, ‘Yeah, you’re racing in NASCAR this weekend too,'” Morad told NBC Sports. “So you have to go get the physical on site and then watch the introductory video to welcome you here and get you all the details.

“These things are unreal to drive. So much power!”

Morad was part of an epic four-way scrap from positions first through four in the NASCAR race between fellow open-wheel alums (barring the odd one-off) with Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Kevin Lacroix – all of whom, like Morad, raced at one point or another in the old Formula Atlantic division.

Tagliani won from Ranger and Lacroix with Morad falling to seventh after a late-race mistake. But to hear Morad tell it, it was one of his favorite drives of his career, and also one of his best.

“I think I was still sweating from doing the double duty yesterday!” Morad told NBC Sports Sunday after the Porsche race. “I just tried to eat, replenish my nutrients, hydrate, do everything I could. And I almost missed the diver meeting because I slept in!

“Yesterday in the NASCAR race, it was too bad I didn’t get win for the team, but it felt like a win with the way the race went. I’m sorry for making that mistake. But I wanted to make that mark. This drive today was enough to make up for it.”

Morad, who also made one IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship start this year with Alegra’s Riley BMW DP at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (de Quesada, Cameron Lawrence and Dominik Farnbacher were his co-drivers), would undoubtedly be a valuable addition for another IMSA event later this year – or, perhaps, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park later this year.

Hargrove, who hasn’t yet made his NASCAR bow, could also star in any NASCAR opportunity if he has one.

Either way, if you’d paid attention to these two in the past, their recent form and run of results in Toronto this weekend should not come as a surprise.

If you haven’t, bookmark their pages and careers now to see where they go from here.