BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (May 23, 2016) – Neither Andrew Palmer (US) nor Adderly Fong (HK) had been to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park before, but the Bentley teammates put in their best performances of the Pirelli World Challenge season so far, coming away with two runner-up finishes.
The No. 87 and No. 88 Bentley Continental GT3s were well suited to the high-speed nature of the 11-turn, 2.548-mile road course. Fong topped the Friday practice times and Palmer held the provisional pole through the second half of qualifying before being bumped in the final seconds, while his teammate took the fourth spot on the grid.
Palmer and Fong held their ground and showed their mettle through Saturday’s race, finishing in their grid positions without any threat or challenge. A second-place finish for Palmer and fourth-place finish for Fong marked each driver’s best World Challenge result this season. Palmer’s runner-up finish is the first podium for Bentley Team Absolute in World Challenge competition.
Thanks to speedy race laps in Saturday’s event, Palmer and Fong once again gridded P2 and P4, respectively, for Sunday’s race. A quick rain shower passed over the track just before the start and although extra pace laps were employed to dry off the circuit and give drivers a feel for the conditions, an incident at the start collected Fong’s Bentley and ended his race.
Luckily for Palmer, the melee was behind him and he navigated the tricky conditions to his second runner-up finish of the weekend.
With two second-place trophies in tow, Bentley Team Absolute heads to Lime Rock Park, May 27 – 28. Both World Challenge races will air live on world-challenge.com.
GT race highlights from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park will air on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, May 29, at Noon ET.
“As soon as we got here, within the first couple of install laps, it just kind of clicked. I liked the track. I think it rewards bravery and a car that can handle high-speed corners and fortunately for us, that’s the Bentley. I think I knew from the end of the first practice that is was our weekend to throw away. Two seconds is really good and we’re happy to be back up on the podium where the brand belongs, where I belong and where the team belongs.
“Once I settled into a pace, race one was about traffic management. You get hopeful every time you see a car that it’ll hold the leader up and let you through. It was pretty even in terms of getting through traffic though. It wasn’t too eventful, but my focus was there and it was by no means easy.
“Race two was very sketchy! It sprinkled just before the start and I was stunned by how wet the track was when I was doing the formation lap. We got word that we’d get some laps behind the safety car before it went green, which was the right call. The back section, from Turn 4 to Turn 8, required full-wet tires. Throughout the race there were periods when it would rain again. I just kept my foot in it and had faith in the car and got another podium.”
“The Bentley was one of the quickest as we showed in practice. Unfortunately, I didn’t put a perfect lap together in qualifying, which cost me, in terms of starting position.
“The car felt really good and after Saturday’s race we got a lot of good data and I had time to get used to the track over the 50-minute race. We learned a lot in terms of driving and how the car behaved with a full tank of fuel. The car was improved on Sunday.
“There was a rain shower 15 minute before the start of the race in Turn 5. It was full-wet in one corner of the track, but all the cars were on slick tires. It was risky, because that’s one of the places to overtake at the start of the race. Track conditions weren’t ideal and it made it very high risk.
“At the start, I had a decent run and I was able to get really close to Eversley. When we were entering Turn 3, is where the track started to get damp. I had a run on the inside of Eversley and Davison had a run on the outside and we were three-wide approaching Turn 4. There was some careless driving and everyone had to take evasive action. Unfortunately, that’s where the track was wet and once the car gets unbalanced, it’s virtually impossible to regain control of the car. That was unfortunate and took me out of the race.”