Baker and Di Benedetto are victorious in SCCC season opener
21 May 2023
Canada’s SCCC series kicked off at Bowmanville’s Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with three races that were all won by new-generation Audi RS 3 LMS cars.
On a very rainy Saturday, Justin Di Benedetto and Dean Baker shared victories in Race 1 and Race 2, while the latter encored Sunday in a sunny Race 3 taking an overall victory ahead of GT4 cars and an early lead in the standings, ten points clear of Louis-Philippe Montour’s old Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Race 1 – Baker had topped a close Qualifying, with only four tenths covering the top six. However, at the start Di Benedetto was faster from P2 on the grid and passed Baker on the outside of T1 taking the lead with Montour soon moving into second. Behind the leading trio, Richard Boake defended the fourth place from the attacks of Gary Kwok and Marco Cirone, until they both managed to pass him advancing to fourth and fifth respectively. During the final stages, positions were frozen under full-yellow, and Di Benedetto took the chequered flag ahead of Montour and Baker; Cirone overtook Kwok under yellow but was then penalised and demoted back to fifth.
Race 2 – The field started behind the safety car, and Di Benedetto tried to repeat the same move as in Race 1, passing Baker on the outside. However, this time he made contact with Boake and crashed into the tyre wall, causing a full-yellow period. As racing resumed, Baker led from Montour and Kwok; the track began to dry and Baker pulled away, while Ron Tomlinson passed Connor Attrell for P4 and began chasing Kwok. Up front, Baker was even able to pass a couple of GT4 cars to finish second overall, with Montour second in TCR. The battle for third came to a dramatic end in the last lap, when Kwok tried to keep Tomlinson at bay, but went off at T5 and crashed into the tyre wall.
Race 3 – At the start, Baker led from the pole and began to build a gap ahead of Montour. Behind them, Boake and Di Benedetto quickly moved up into third and fourth after starting from P11 and P13 respectively. The top TCR cars were lapping faster than the GT4 machines and before the mid of the 40-minute race Baker and Montour passed two Mercedes AMG cars climbing to second and third overall. Baker then began to bite into the overall leader’s advantage, while Boake was chasing Montour and eventually passed him for second in TCR in lap 22. Up front, Baker had closed the gap to the overall leading Ford Mustang GT4, passed it in lap 26, with less than three minutes left, and pulled away to win overall with a margin of 5.6 seconds. Boake and Montour completed the TCR podium, finishing third and fourth overall.
The second event will be on July 14/16 within the frame of the Toronto IndyCar Grand Prix.
Bowmansville – Race 1
1. Justin Di Benedetto (Di Benedetto Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS II), 14 laps
1. D. Baker, 110 pts; 2. LP. Monotur, 100; 3. J. Di Benedetto, 64
Picture: Di Benedetto Racing
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