BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA – JCR Motorsports had a bit of sunshine on a cloudy day as Jeff Courtney scored a Top 5 finish to cap a challenge-filled but successful weekend for the team in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS races as part of Victoria Day Speedfest, May 19-21 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Driving the #99 Kenda/RecStuff.com/JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4, Courtney had a strong run during Sunday’s overcast race, finishing in fifth place – and challenging for fourth into the final turn – to compliment his sixth-place finish in the event’s first GTS race on Saturday.
The team was further boosted by local Canadian Fred Roberts, who made his 2017 debut with JCR Motorsports. Driving the #89 RPM Canada/Enercare Maserati GT4, Roberts blasted from a starting position of 17 at the start on Sunday to be in a race-long battle for 12th, where he finished the day. He was 13th in Saturday’s race, having made his way up from the 17th starting position.
“Although we had a bit of a tough time adjusting to the new BOP (weight and height restrictions imposed for this race) on our Maserati GT4s, we put out a great effort as a team,” Courtney said.
A very excited Roberts said afterward, “it was great to be back in the driver’s seat! With virtually no testing in the Maserati, this weekend was about seat time and running clean so we can build on this going forward. I am excited about Road America where I can learn a lot from Jeff at his home track.”
“Fred did a great job in his first event and I would expect he will just continue to get better at each event as he gets comfortable with the car and the team,” Courtney said.
For both drivers and the team, it was an impressive showing in just the team’s second race of the PWC season.
Race 1 Recap: Jeff Courtney 6th, Fred Roberts 13th
On a clear but cool Saturday, Courtney and Roberts both made late runs, passing several cars in the final laps before the checkered flag fell to give the team its impressive sixth and 13th-place finishes.
Courtney started eighth, made an early run for seventh, was hit and spun which put him back to 13th with just 14 minutes remaining in the race. He closed to 12th a few laps later and made another pass to move up to 11th, while Roberts was running a steady 17th after starting 18th.
With a little more than five minutes remaining, two of the race leaders tangled, which enabled both JCR Motorsports cars to move up two spots to ninth and 15th, respectively. That seemed to ignite both drivers, as they each suddenly launched forward as if being shot out of a cannon. Both drivers made several passes, and by the finish, Courtney was up to his sixth-place finish with Roberts all the way up to 13th.
“Unlike our first race at VIR where things just seemed to fall into place, here we struggled with qualifying and in turn things just kind of snowballed,” Courtney explained. “In the race, I was hit and spun by one of the other cars. I was then lacking some straight-line speed and made the best of things for the rest of the race.”
Race 2 Recap: Jeff Courtney 5th, Fred Roberts 12th
A cool and cloudy day did not stop Courtney and Roberts from being hot, as both drivers made big moves throughout the race.
After starting eighth, Courtney lost three positions immediately when he was forced off the track after a car stalled on the starting grid after the standing start. He worked his way back up through the field and was fifth with 15 minutes remaining. For the rest of the way he was all over the tailpipe of Ian James for fourth. He made a final attempt to pass James on the final turn but just couldn’t quite pull it off and crossed the finish line in fifth place.
Roberts, meanwhile, got off to a spectacular start. He bolted from 18th to 13th position in a single lap and was in a battle that had him in and out of the 12th and 13th spots for most of the race.
“One of the other cars had a problem at the start and stalled on the track,” Courtney said of his day. “I had to run into the grass to avoid it, and lost a few spots as a result. Then I was locked into a battle with Ian and if I could have gotten past him, I am certain we could have made a run at the podium.”
Courtney’s World Challenge effort is propelled by Kenda Tires along with RecStuff.com, the authority in trailer parts, an online retailer that specializes in trailer tires and wheels along with other components for trailers.
The #89 car has support from RPM Canada and Enercare, one of Canada’s largest home and commercial services and energy solutions companies.
Next up: The team will be at the Grand Prix of Road America with both Courtney and Roberts, June 23-25.