Mission Complete: SERKET Racing CTMP Weekend Recap
July 25th, 2013
SERKET Racing set up camp at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) this past weekend. The 2.459-mile track played host to Rounds Seven and Eight of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series. SERKET Racing driver, Mark Llano, spent the weekend withstanding inclement weather and high speeds during his hunt for a podium finish.
After a hot and humid Friday, SERKET Racing and the field attempted to qualify late in the afternoon at CTMP, however, weather conditions quickly turned and the session was ultimately abandoned due to severe thunderstorms that rolled in to the park as qualifications began.
The radically changing track conditions ranged from temperatures upwards of 90 degrees, to late blowing wind, hard rain and lightning as a band of storms swept over the area. The former Marine is no stranger to adverse weather and kept his focus on improving lap times and his racecraft throughout the ever-changing conditions.
“Being a former Marine it was difficult for me to be told to not accept the mission of qualifications,” Llano said. “But after talking with Ramez [Wahab, NGT team owner] we decided the best decision for me was to not risk the car in the rain. We decided it would be best for me to just put my head
down, focus and fight to the front.”
Due to the session abandonment, IMSA set the grid for the weekend’s double-header event by combining the times from both practice sessions and using the fastest lap time to set the grid for Race One of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix and the second fastest lap time to establish the field for the second race feature. Llano’s fastest lap average of 1:26.398 put him in 20th for the start of Saturday’s race.
Saturday began with an autograph session for fans in attendance. Llano gave fans SERKET Racing, “Warriors Live by a Code…,” wristbands along with his autographed hero card. The wristband is one way race fans can carry home with them SERKET Racing’s mission, which is to support our Veterans, our warfighters, and their families. Stop by the NGT Motorsport paddock at any of the upcoming races and become a part of SERKET Racing’s mission, too.
The Saturday feature race was a 45-minute sprint with more preferable sunny weather conditions. At the drop of the green flag Llano and his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup were immediately able to jump a position to 19th. Llano then attempted to break down the wall of tough competition that stood before him. With persistence Llano was able to reach the 18th position and turn his fastest lap time of 1:24.765 during the race.
Determination became key when the former Marine came out of the famed Turn 2 and spun in Turn 3 with two laps to go. The spin left Llano unharmed, however, his GT3 Cup car came out of the incident with four flat tires. The driver pushed on to finish Race One with a standing ovation from fans watching from outside Turn 3, an award for his persistent spirit. Llano finished the day in the 21st position.
“The track was amazing, it was incredibly fast,” Llano said. “We hit our fastest lap time Saturday at 1:24.765 and I was very happy with that as it was our first time being on that track. I was able to gain a few positions; I was pushing a little bit more every lap trying to lower my time. I pushed a little too hard into Turn 3 with two laps to go. I took a spin and flat spotted all four tires. But I pushed on, I was determined to finish that race, and I crossed the finish line with my four flat tires.”
The weekend wrapped up late Sunday afternoon with Llano starting again in the 20th position for Race Two. The driver found himself in an on-track incident at the start of Lap 1 that sent him into the pits early, and placed him one lap down. After the pit crew confirmed the car had not been damaged, Llano charged back and continued his mission to fight for field position.
“The beginning of Sunday was a little intense, going into Turn 5A and 5B. I was on the outside of the turn, when a car hit the passenger’s side of my car and pushed me perpendicular to the track,” Llano explained. “The team had me come into the pits to make sure there was no damage to the car. With only some minor damage to the passenger side of my car, I was cleared and able to enter back into the race. From there it was just focus and one target at a time.”
The former Marine was able to pick off a few positions, battling at the end with NGT Motorsport teammate, Eduardo Cisneros, for the 16th overall position. Llano was able to set a fast lap time of 1:24.933.
SERKET Racing will travel back to U.S. soil for their next race. August 9-11 the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Series will compete at Road America during the Road Race Showcase in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.