On Friday morning (Oct. 12), PFAFF Motorsports announced at Road Atlanta that they intend to contest the inaugural IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup in 2019. The WeatherTech Sprint Cup is a new championship-within-a-championship that comprises the seven sprint races on the 2019 schedule for GT Daytona teams. In addition, the team will also contest the 2019 Motul Petit Le Mans with an eye on running the full 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The drivers for the team’s inaugural WeatherTech Championship campaign will be very familiar to the Canadian operation. Scott Hargrove, the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge GT Sprint champion, will share the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R with 2018 IMSA Ultra 94 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama champion Zacharie Robichon. A third driver for next year at Road Atlanta will be named at a later date.
“Commercially, for our dealer group, it makes a little more sense for us to be racing in front of the crowds that [attend races] at the IMSA level,” said Steve Bortolotti of PFAFF. “The competition [in IMSA] speaks for itself. We’ve had a good run as of late and we like to keep challenging ourselves. The commercial benefit is…great and we want to put these young Canadian drivers on the biggest stage possible.”
For Hargrove, he feels that his year in Pirelli World Challenge was crucial to his development as a driver.
“I think [Pirelli World Challenge] was the perfect springboard from Porsche GT3 Cup in Canada…to get that experience in a [Porsche] 911 GT3 R,” Hargrove said during the press conference. “When you’re racing in a Porsche Cup series, everyone is in the same car, but now you’re racing against other manufacturers. You work more with your own manufacturer to make sure that you’re competitive.
“It was a really great experience this year racing with Wolf Henzler,” Hargrove continued. “I learned a lot from him and PFAFF Motorsports did a really great job and we were able to go and get that championship in our rookie year.
Robichon could not attend the press conference at Road Atlanta, but there was a good reason why. It occurred during the second IMSA Porsche GT3 Challenge Cup race of the weekend. One that Robichon dominated and won by 11 seconds from pole for his 18th Porsche GT3 Cup win of the year (between the two Porsche GT3 Cup series that IMSA sanctions).
For Hargrove, Robichon is a known quantity as a teammate and a very good friend.
“Zacharie is a great guy, and since he’s leading right now, it just goes to snow that he’s fast,” Hargrove explained. “For me, to have that friendship every time I’m in the Toronto area is great. Being friends off the track and teammates on the track is a perfect way to try and go compete against the best.”
Hargrove has previously raced as a teammate to Robichon in the IMSA Ultra 94 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama. There, the two drivers cultivated their friendship while competing together.
The 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup begins May 5 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. All rounds except for Belle Isle Park are also part of the full season championship for the GT Daytona class.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.