Toronto-area motorsport team heading to Daytona for 24-hour race

Pfaff Motorsports mechanics put the finishing touches on their plaid-painted Porsche 991.2 GT3 R race car on Saturday at an auto workshop in Vaughan, Ontario.

They refined the suspension, checked the aerodynamic settings, and adjusted the wing angle, all before loading the car into a long-haul truck for the trip to Daytona Beach, Fla. – a city synonymous with high-speed car racing.

The Greater Toronto Area motorsports team heads to the United States to compete for the fourth time in a grueling 24-hour endurance race.

The 24 Hours of Daytona, also known as Rolex 24, will begin with a green flag at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, January 28 at 1:00 PM and will end at the same time the following day. Drivers race over a 5.73 km (3.56 miles) track, stopping only for pit stops, with some cars reaching speeds of up to 280 km/h.

“The first race is our biggest race. So we start the season with our Super Bowl,” said Steve Bortolotti, general manager of Pfaff Motorsports. “It’s twice around the clock. There’s no pause in between.’

Plaid-clad racers

Pfaff Motorsports is one of only two professional motorsports teams owned and operated by Canada to compete in the International Motor Sports Association’s (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Their Canadian roots inspired the car’s paintwork, Bortolotti said, making them easy “fan favorites” among the predominantly American public.

After aborting the 2020 season amid COVID-19 lockdowns, Pfaff won the championship when he returned to racing last year for best overall performance throughout the 2021 season.

It was challenging, especially given the pandemic border and travel restrictions. Nine of their 10 races in a normal year are in the US

“We have accumulated enough time in quarantine or cross-border travel to qualify as cross-border workers,” Bortolotti said.

This year, after moving from a mixed professional amateur category to a full professional category, the Pfaff team hopes to reach the podium in front of tens of thousands of fans.

“We’ve been successful in sections of the Daytona 24 Hours. We’ve led some laps. We’ve been fast,” said Marketing Director Laurance Yap. “This is our chance to prove ourselves for 24 hours.”

The Pfaff Motorsports team poses for a photo with their Porsche race car at a racetrack in Atlanta, Georgia, after winning the GTD category of the International Motorsports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021. (Pfaff Motorsport/Instagram)

The Porsche, a factory-built 530 horsepower race car, will be powered by a rotation of three “factory drivers” each from Australia, France and Brazil. They will take turns behind the wheel, changing every three hours at pit stops.

Yap said the key is for everyone in the team of about 20 members – from the engineers to the mechanics to the drivers to the pit stop crew – to be hyper-focused on their tasks and avoid mistakes.

“When that happens, all the pieces fit together and you have a successful weekend,” Yap said.

‘Looking for that extra tenth of a second’

Technical director and chief engineer Andrew Marangoni is responsible for making sure the car is in the best possible condition because “you’re always looking for that extra tenth of a second.”

But precious time can also be saved by practicing the pit stop routine to perfection.

“To put it in perspective, you go to … a lubricant store to change your oil, get your brakes done. You’re there for an hour or two — these guys do it in 45 seconds,” Marangoni said. takes a lot of effort and choreography to get it up to that speed.”

In two weeks, they hope that all the preparations will push the checkered Porche past the finish – ahead of the competition.

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