IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Saturday, July 2, 2022
After a difficult weekend at Watkins Glen, NY, the Racing to End Alzheimer’s/Hardpoint team hoped a change of scenery would set them back on track in the Michelin Pilot Challenge. Luckily, for the first time since 2019, the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park opened its gates to IMSA for the sixth race of the 2022 season. Excited to head north, the squad packed their passports and headed to Ontario for another dramatic installment in what has been a rollercoaster series.
From the Drop of the Puck
Right away, it seemed the team’s luck had followed them across the border. During Friday’s first practice, on the first turn, the No. 22 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport collided hard with a concrete barrier. The crash resulted in damage to the suspension, transmission and exhaust, a maelstrom of challenges that would take a monumental effort to overcome before race day. After 12 hours of non-stop work in the shop by one of the best crews in the business, the car rolled out onto the track, just in time for the green flag.
Galante in the Groove
As with most of the tracks in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Nick Galante has history at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. In his last appearance at the Ontario track in 2018, Galante took home the victory, pacing the ST field by over five seconds. A couple of years before that, Nick was part of a team that worked its Porsche Cayman all the way up from 13th for a thrilling second-place finish. Indeed, the podium at CTMP is familiar with the tread of Nick Galante’s race-day soles.
On the heels of the herculean effort by the crew to get the car race ready, Galante was determined to bring every bit of his experience out onto the track, along with “a little extra fire to not let them down.” Starting from the back of the pack, he took off fast, picking off three positions within the first two laps. With the No.22 in 13th place at about 20 minutes in, a full course caution was called. In a savvy decision by engineer Charles Hamm, the Porsche remained on the track while most of the field pitted during the caution. It paid off, elevating the purple and white car to eighth on the restart and proving, yet again, that strategy is at least as important as speed.
Coming to Grips
Toward the end of his run, Galante steered the No.22 all the way to fourth place on the grid, a welcome and exhilarating achievement for the whole team. With 55 minutes to go, Nick used the last of his fuel to tear into the pits under a green flag. Sean McAlister jumped in, eager to keep up the pace and put his first Canadian race under his belt.
Restarting from 13th, McAlister waged a fierce fight to keep position. Compared to the first leg, the second half of this race was a grind. Lots of traffic and high-speed jockeying kept the No.22 busy, making for high-stress, high-stakes racing. With about 20 minutes to go, McAlister tripped up, and his thus far clean race faced potential disaster. Keeping his cool, Sean was able to keep the car out of the tires on a very difficult turn and only relent one position for a respectable 14th place finish.
We went into this weekend hoping for redemption. What we found was a master course on the power of hard work, grit and determination. That bodes well for the next race at Lime Rock Park on July 15-16 in Lakeville, CT. Stay tuned!