IMSA: Braun/CORE autosport lead practice in Canada; Helio Castroneves unhurt in crash

All photos courtesy IMSA

Courtesy IMSA Wire Service

BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA – For the second consecutive week, the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA 07 Gibson machine finished Friday’spractice sessions atop the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship time charts.

Colin Braun did the honors today in practice for Sunday’sMobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, clocking a best lap of 1:06.902 in the afternoon session. Last week, it was Braun’s endurance racing teammate, Romain Dumas, who led the way at the end of practice at Watkins Glen International.

Last week’s fast times on Friday led to a Motul Pole Award on Saturday for Braun and a runner-up race result for Braun, Dumas and team owner/driver Jon Bennett. Braun and Bennett have three American Le Mans Series/WeatherTech Championship Prototype Challenge (PC) class victories at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, but this weekend marks their first run in Prototype at the track formerly known as “Mosport.”

“I think it was, for us, a good day,” Braun said. “Obviously, we’ve never been to Mosport before [with this car], so we’re just trying to understand what this track needs. We didn’t get a chance to test here. Yeah, for us and the first time here, and it’s one of my favorite racetracks. I really like this place. I liked it back in the PC days.

“The guys worked hard between Watkins Glen and Mosport to get our car ready. Just business as usual. Jon did a really nice job in the last practice, so yeah, I’m feeling good about it.”

The two-hour, 40-minute Mobil 1 Sports Car Grand Prix begins at 2:05 p.m. EDT and will be televised on FS1 on a delayed basis beginning at 4 p.m. ET. It will be carried live by IMSA Radio on, and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 138/XM 202/App 972, including all of Canada).

Castroneves OK After Crash in Friday Afternoon Practice

The good news on Friday for driver Helio Castroneves was that he posted the third-quickest time of the afternoon practice session in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi at 1:07.881 (130.410 mph). The bad news is that the session came to an early end for the Brazilian driver when he spun and crashed into the tire barrier at Turn 5.

He was treated and released in the infield care center. And although he wasn’t seriously injured in the incident, adding insult to injury was the fact that Castroneves’ beloved Brazilian soccer team was eliminated from the World Cup in its quarterfinals match against Belgium.

“Bad day for Brazil,” Castroneves said. “I had spun before a little bit in Turn 5. I’m not sure, we kept on locking the power steering wheel, but the Acura car was really good. I was just learning and pushing and obviously, as the tires go a little bit away, I should understand a little bit more.

“I was just trying to push it as much as I could, and as soon as I hit the bottom before (Turn) 5, the rear just snapped before even going into the corner. It was a big one. I’m very happy that everything’s safe.

“Hopefully, it didn’t damage the chassis. It’s a shame to put the boys in this situation, but I’m counting on my man Ricky to put a big lap in and see what happens.”

Tandy Tops GTLM Charts in Friday Practice

The last time Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet shared a No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the weekend ended with the two of them standing atop the podium, drenched in champagne.

That was back in 2015. But if Friday practice at CTMP is any indication, there’s a reasonable chance this weekend could end the same way. Tandy ended the afternoon session with the fastest lap of the day for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, turning a 1:14.357 (119.052 mph).

It capped a good day for the two-car Porsche GT Team, as Laurens Vanthoor led the day’s opening WeatherTech Championship practice session in the No. 912 Porsche he shares with Earl Bamber.

“The track is quick today, so the cars feel really fast out there,” Tandy said. “It’s fun to drive. Turn 1 and 2, it’s a lot of fun with the high-downforce GTLM cars. It’s obviously nice to be quick, to have both cars top both sessions.”

Parente, No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura Stay Hot in GTD

Thanks to the generous support of SiriusXM Canada, the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 co-driven by Katherine Legge and Alvaro Parente once again will be on the grid for Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix.

Parente showed his appreciation for the support on Fridayby posting the fastest lap in GT Daytona (GTD) practice with a lap of 1:16.574 (115.605 mph).

“Look, [Practice] doesn’t mean anything,” Parente said. “It’d be nice if Sunday afternoon, the results were like that, but we’ll see. No, we had a really good day, tried a few things we wanted. Now the whole time is going to think what we’re going to do setup-wise for the whole race. It was a very good, positive day.”

It was another solid day in what has been a solid season so far for the No. 86 squad. Legge and the team head into Sunday’s race one point behind the class-leading No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow.

“Every race apart from Sebring, we’ve finished on the podium,” Parente said. “I think the momentum’s always been there. It’d be really nice to get a win. The team has, unfortunately I wasn’t there at Detroit (when Legge won with Mario Farnbacher as Parente was unable to compete due to a commitment elsewhere). I’m really looking forward to trying to get a win, finally, but the momentum’s always been there. We’ve been on the top all the time, so we’ll see.”

Tequila Patrón ESM Focuses on One-Car Effort

With a quick turnaround from last Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen to this weekend’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, the Tequila Patrón ESM is fielding only its No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi this weekend. Regular No. 22 driver Pipo Derani will be joined this weekend by Ryan Dalziel, as regular drivers Johannes van Overbeek (No. 22) and Scott Sharp (No. 2) sit out.

The team encountered multiple engine issues last weekend at Watkins Glen, and a shortage of parts led to the decision to run the single car at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The team expects to field both entries in the next WeatherTech Championship Prototype event, the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America on Aug. 3-5.

“Due to our spare engine availability after the weekend we have decided to focus all of our available resources and run just one car at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park,” said team owner/driver Sharp. “Ryan and Pipo will share the driving duties and we look to rebound in a seriously positive way. CTMP has always been a strong track for Tequila Patrón ESM.”

Canada Well-Represented in Continental Tire Challenge’s Lone Race North of the Border

Ahead of this weekend’s lone IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race north of the border, the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120 entry list is stacked with Canadian drivers and teams eager to perform well in front of their home crowd.

Already leading the charge is Kuno Wittmer, a Montreal native driving for Toronto-based Compass Racing, which fields three Audis in TCR and one McLaren GT4 in Grand Sport (GS). Wittmer topped his class’ time charts in Practice 1 on Friday in the No. 74 Audi RS3 LMS, and co-drives with with Rodrigo Sales who coincidentally followed his teammate’s lead in Practice 2 with a best time of the day at 1:26.446 (102.403 mph).

The duo – which also leads the TCR championship standings – is seeking its third win of the season inSaturday’s race at the Bowmanville, Ontario circuit.

“For the team, they’re carrying a lot of weight,” said Wittmer. “They want to perform. We have four cars on the team and naturally everybody wants to win. They brought their A-game right now and it’s showcased by being P1 last session. All the cars are prepped perfectly, everything is good, they really want to win both the GS and TCR categories, so this is No. 1.”

While Wittmer is one of the more experienced drivers in the Continental Tire Challenge field – his résumé includes a Rolex 24 At Daytona victory in 2015 and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans title in 2014 – there is one car entered in the GS class with two drivers that have quite the opposite.

Making their first series start this weekend at CTMP will be Danny Kok and Phil Holtrust in the Nova Scotia-based Shining Star Motorsport with Atlantic Racing Team. Kok, Chief Instructor at the Canadian Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy, has been coaching Holtrust for several years.

“When the GT4 class came out, I always said I would like to do some racing with AMG,” said Holtrust, who has numerous Driving Academy days at CTMP under his belt. “I like their products and I think the GT4 so far has been a friendly car for, what I call myself, an amateur novice.

“The plan was if we were ready, we’d like to make this our first race since I know the track and it’s in Canada and that worked out. When we started in January, we didn’t really know if it was going to work out, but here we are.”

And it might be hard to find a team in the Continental Tire Challenge paddock this weekend with as much of a Canadian background as Shining Star Motorsport.

“What’s really neat is the guys who are operating the car for us, they’re based in Nova Scotia,” Kok explained. “Phil is based between Edmonton and Calgary and I’m based just outside of Vancouver, so you have truly a national team. We represent Canada from coast to coast with this team which is really a cool deal. It’s been fun having all the fans coming around happy to see two Canadian flags on the car and just seeing all of this develop.”

The Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120, featuring a wealth of additional Canadian drivers and teams, is set for Saturday, July 7 at 3:05 p.m. ET. The race will be streamed live on and a television broadcast will air on Sunday, July 15 at 11:30 a.m. on FS1.

Performance Tech Retires After Crash in Opening WeatherTech Championship Practice

An incident late in the weekend’s opening practice session has forced the retirement of the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA LMP2. Kyle Masson made heavy contact with the barrier in Turn 1, a crushing blow to a team that scrambled to get to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park following an incident one week earlier at Watkins Glen.

“We’ve got 200 hours of work on the car since Watkins Glen and I just can’t put the guys through that again,” said team owner Brent O’Neill. “They did a great job last weekend after The Glen so we’re just going to switch our focus to the MPC guys [in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series] and work on some podiums there. We hate to see the weekend end like this, but after such a hard hit it’s the right choice for everyone.”

One of those IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda entries is that of Dr. Robert Masson, who leads the MPC standings in the Mazda-powered No. 11 Masson Spine Institute Elan DP02. Dr. Masson will be joined by his son Kyle for the remainder of the season beginning with this weekend’s race.

Zellers Embracing IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Debut

The opening day of on-track activity at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park has been an eye-opening one for Hanna Zellers. The 21-year-old old comes from Formula Atlantic, but has dabbled in other series as well, including testing in Lamborghini Super Trofeo and even making a start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

This weekend she makes her debut in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda – her first career IMSA start – where she will co-drive alongside IndyCar veteran and former Indy Lights champion Jay Howard in the No. 87 Five Miles Out Racing Norma M30.

“I’m new to the series, I’m new to this car, so it’s been somewhat of a difficult transition,” she said. “I come from racing Formula Atlantic, so it’s kind of similar, but the car is a lot heavier. I have Memo (Gidley) and Jay (Howard) that I can rely on to help. Both of them are really fast drivers. They’re really good at helping someone like me develop. Jay has his own F4 teams and driver development program, and Memo is smart, has been around for a long time and knows how to go quick.

“Right now, I’m just working on getting more time in the car. I think we’ll do really well this weekend though.”

If Friday’s lone IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda practice is any indication, Zellers may be right. The No. 87 car was second fastest, behind only the series points leader and defending race-winning No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 of Kris Wright and Yann Clairay.

But regardless of the outcome, Zellers has enjoyed being a part of her first IMSA race weekend.

“It’s cool to be alongside all of the big teams and have all of these well-known drivers walking around the paddock,” she added. “I get to do the same thing and walk around with a race suit at the same time. There’s so many people here, Canada really loves racing. I’ve gotten to meet so many people this weekend. It’s been awesome.”

Jett Lawrence wins Pro Motocross opener, remains perfect at Fox Raceway; Hunter wins in 250s

How they finished in the 450 Overall at Fox Raceway
Align Media

PALA, California – In his 450 bike debut, Jett Lawrence scored a perfect round at Fox Raceway in Pala, California to win Pro Motocross Round 1. He posted the fastest time in both qualification sessions, won the holeshot in both motos, and scored a pair of wins to take the overall victory and the early points’ lead.

Chase Sexton stalked Jett Lawrence throughout Moto 2, but could not find his way past. – Align Media

No one seriously questioned Lawrence’s opportunity to make noise in the 450 class. Few would have been surprised to see him podium in his Pro Motocross National, but Lawrence outperformed all expectations by dominating Moto 1. He entered the weekend with zero points and his eye on 20th in the standings so he would receive an automatic invitation to the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

He well surpassed expectations.

“It’s awesome,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “I can finally smile. I’ve been trying to stay serious and not get too excited with emotions coming up – and now I can finally let loose. The second one was a little harder, I couldn’t hear him but I’d look back and I’d still see the red bike. It was like a chess match.”

By the end of the race, Lawrence made up 30 percent of the points he needed to claim 20th and served notice that he will be one of the favorites to win the championship. He closed the gap even further in Moto 2, but the two races had entirely different storylines.

While Lawrence was able to run away from the field in the first race and win with a 10-second advantage, Honda teammate and defending Monster Energy Supercross champion Chase Sexton pressured him for the entire 30 minutes plus two laps that made up Moto 2.

Lawrence is the 16th rider to win in his first Pro Motocross race, the 10th to do so in an opener and second youngest, (behind Rick Johnson, 17 when he won at Hangtown in 1982).

Sexton was within two seconds of Lawrence for the entire moto. He rode a patient race with the realistic expectation that the 450 rookie Lawrence might make a mistake. Lawrence bounced from rut to rut in this race, but would not be forced into losing his focus.

“Toward the finish line area I had some decent lines, I thought maybe, if I could get close enough, I could make a move,” Sexton said. “I tried my hardest; I got close. I made a bit of an attempt with maybe 10 minutes to go and messed up. Jett was obviously riding really good. We were pushing the pace and it was a fun moto. It felt a little like last year.”

With his 1-1 finish and the overall victory, Lawrence remains perfect at Fox Raceway after sweeping Victory Lane in five rounds his 250 career.

Dylan Ferrandis returned to the track after suffering a concussion in the Supercross season in Round 4 in Houston. He attempted to return for the Daytona Supercross race, but another hard crash on Media Day set him on the sideline.

“Earlier this week I was pretty far from a podium position, so got together with the team and we made it happen,” Ferrandis said. “It was very hard. [Aaron Plessinger] was pushing me and I had to dig very deep.”

RESULTS: How they finished in the 450 Overall at Fox Raceway

In a pre-race news conference, he indicated that the best course of action was to get up to speed before he fully sent his bike into the turns. But adrenalin is a wonderful factor and once he got into the pace of the race, he held off charges from Cooper Webb in Moto 1 and Plessinger in Moto 2. Ferrandis’ 3-3 finishes in the two races earned 40 points and puts him back in the conversation to be among the top 20 in the combined SuperMotocross standings.

Plessinger and Webb each ended the day with 34 points. Plessinger won the tiebreaker for fifth overall in the standings. But it was an adventurous afternoon for Plessinger who had to overcome a pair of falls in the first Moto to finish fifth.

Round 1 of the Pro Motocross season marked the return of Webb after he suffered a Supercross series ending concussion in a heat race at Nashville.

“This was a last minute decision,” Webb said. “I sat out last summer and I didn’t want to do that again. Once I got cleared from the doctor, it was game on.”

The battle between Lawrence and Sexton gave Honda a 1-2 finish in this race for the second straight year, but perhaps most importantly, it provided a glimpse of what can be expected during the opening rounds.

I think there is more to come from Chase,” Lawrence said. “He had that crash in practice so it rung his head a bit, but I know it’s going to be a war in the outdoor season. I know there’s going to be times when I’m behind Chase and can’t get around him. It’s going to be an awesome season and I can’t wait to race my teammate.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jett wasn’t the only Lawrence to win Fox Raceway Motocross. Hunter’s win in the 250 class marked the first time in history that brothers won a Motocross National on the same day.

The reigning 250 East Supercross champion scored the overall victory with a third in Moto 1 and a victory in Moto 2. A poor start in the first race forced Lawrence to mount a charge from behind. Riding with discomfort, Lawrence was out of his rhythm early. A spirited battle with Jo Shimoda and Justin Cooper for third through fifth forced him to push through the pain of an injury suffered at the start of the week.

“The start was crucial,” Lawrence said. “I had a massive crash Monday and could barely ride press day for three laps, I was in so much pain. This one goes out to Dr. [Rey Gubernick]. He has magic hands.”

Lawrence’s strong start to Moto 2 put him in a better zone and he pulled an eight-second advantage over the second-place rider.

Haiden Deegan got a taste of the Motocross series last year, but that was all it was: a nibble.

Deegan failed to crack the top 10 in either of two starts and had some questions for himself before the race began. Deegan did not believe there were high expectations placed on him for this race, which is precisely how he described his first Supercross attempt. In that inaugural SX race, he finished fourth and was as surprised as anyone in the field.

Again: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Deegan surprised himself again by finishing second in only his third Motocross National. He finished sixth in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2, giving him a second-place finish overall.

“I’m actually a little surprised,” Deegan said. “A lot of people said I wouldn’t even be close to this. I guess we’re proving people wrong and that’s what we’ve got to do Second place in my first full season. I’m hyped.”

Deegan is closing in on his first 250 win.

Click here for 250 overall results

RJ Hampshire had to overcome a pair of falls in Moto 2 to score the final podium position in the overall standings. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire made a statement in Moto 1. An entirely new discipline allowed Hampshire to grab an early advantage. But then a poor start to Moto 2 provided an entirely different challenge. Two falls on Lap 1 dropped Hampshire to 39th in the running order.

“I didn’t have a great start and got mayhem in that second corner and went down,” Hampshire said. “Picked [myself] up in last and made some really good passes and then going uphill on the [backstretch], someone got out of whack – took me out and I was dead last again. I didn’t really know if I had a shot at the podium, but I was digging really deep.”

It took half of the race to get back into the points in 20th, but Hampshire kept digging. Passing riders one at a time, he climbed to 11th in Moto 2 and salvaged enough points to give him the third position overall.

Maximus Vohland made a statement of his own by holding off a determined Lawrence on the last two laps. Lawrence was able to pressure Vohland when they were slowed by a lapped rider who fell in front of the battle.

Tom Vialle was in a position to take the final overall podium spot with a solid third-place finish in the second moto. He did everything he could, but Hampshire’s determined charge from the back of the pack was capped off with a two-position advance on the final lap to slide onto the final step of the box.

2023 Supercross Race Recaps

Salt Lake City: Chase Sexton ends the season with win
Denver: Chase Sexton wins, takes points’ lead with Eli Tomac injury
Nashville: Chase Sexton keeps hope alive; Cooper Webb out
New Jersey: Justin Barcia wins muddy race; first in two years
Atlanta: Chase Sexton is back in the championship picture
Glendale: Eli Tomac wins 51st, breaks tie with James Stewart
Seattle: Eli Tomac wins and ties Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Cooper Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Eli Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Eli Tomac wins opener for the first time

More SuperMotocross coverage

Record Supercross attendance reported in 2023
450 Champion Chase Sexton takes back what he gave away
250 West Supercross champion Jett Lawrence ends dream career
250 East Supercross champion Hunter Lawrence overcomes doubt and injury
Cooper Webb returns to action at Pala
Caden Braswell joins Troy Lee Design
SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Supercross finale