This weekend a string of Ford Performance’s Mustang GT4 speed machines traveled to the Great White North to run in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge’s fifth race of the 10-race season. Two of those purpose-built ponies ended up on the podium with co-drivers Nate Stacy and Canadian native, Kyle Marcelli, taking the Grand Sport win in KohR Motorsports’ MGW Scudo-backed #60 racer, which catapulted the KohR team from third to first in the season points tally with 143.
It’s a pleasure racing here at home. — Kyle Marcelli, KohR Motorsports
“My stint was quite stressful. It was a miscommunication on the radio. When we got the full-course caution I was behind the safety car in Turn 8 and Dean Martin, our crew chief, asked me my opinion on if we should take fuel only. I was giving my answer through Turn 9 and as I released the radio button, he was yelling ‘Pit, pit, pit’ and I already missed the pit entry,” Kyle told IMSA. “I was kicking myself in the butt after that, and it just became a fuel conservation race for us…”
In the end, that careful fuel usage and, perhaps a bit of home-field advantage paid off as the Canadian finished out the race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park with the win but ran out of fuel on the way to the winner’s circle — it was that close.
“It’s a pleasure racing here at home,” Kyle said. “I love the weather, I love the racetrack, the people. It was a good day. It was a tough stint for me…it became a fuel conservation race for us. I went to the ‘fuel used’ page on the dash and just watched it and called out the number every single lap, so much that we were lifting early for turn one, two and eight, and basically just using the gearbox to slow the car down. It paid off. We saved about two-and-a-half laps of fuel and were able to win.”
Finishing in second were Martin Barkey and Brett Sandberg in the MBRP Performance Exhaust-backed #80 GT4, marking the first podium finish for this Ontario, Canada-based team.
“Leading up to the race today, we’d been struggling a little bit with the car and the grip,” Martin said. “I’ve often said we had the best team in the paddock and I think today, with the car we started this weekend with and the car we finished with, it’s just a testament to those guys. For myself, got out there, battled and had a great start… then Brett, can’t say enough. Just drove the wheels off the car just like he did last weekend.”
“It was definitely redemption,” Brett added. “After the pole at Watkins Glen and leading the race and feeling so confident in the car, then having the incident and having such a short turnaround between the Glen and here, it put a lot of workload on the guys, but it’s a testament to how hard they work and their preparation and the way they are able to get the car going. We were fortunate with our fuel strategy today. The whole first half I was conserving as much as I could, knowing we would be really close at the end. Fortunately, it paid off.”
Rounding out the Mustang GT4 finishes, the VOLT Lighting #7 car narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish, while the #8 Modspace machine finished fifth despite leading the race for a stretch, while the #15 Multimatic machine struggled with exhaust issues to finish in the 19th spot.
The Mustang GT4 teams hope to build on this momentum in two weeks as the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge heads to Lime Rock Park on July 20-21, 2018.