MONTEREY, Calif. – A special text message from a friend motivated Elliott Skeer to forget about the math and clinch the Platinum Cup Drivers Championship in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama in the most powerful way possible.
Skeer led by 25 points over Jesse Lazare entering the final two rounds of the season in the International Motor Sports Ass’n (IMSA)-sanctioned single-make series this weekend during Porsche Rennsport Reunion V at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He only needed to lead by 21 points after Round 15 on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Instead, Skeer dominated the race, leading from start to finish in the No. 14 Wright Motorsports Porsche to pad his lead to 27 points over Lazare and clinch the Drivers Championship in his first year in the series.
“There were the talks of ‘Oh, just survive this,’ ‘You need to finish here,'” Skeer said. “Actually, I got a text from (Porsche factory driver) Patrick Long a couple hours ago, and he said, ‘Just go win.’ The simplicity of it all, and I said: ‘OK. I’ll just go see if I can win.’ That was the motto going into it, and it paid off.
“Wow. Just relief, happiness, excitement – just every happy, positive emotion you can really feel.”
Lazare, from Montreal, placed second after finishing 4.992 seconds behind Skeer in the No. 21 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche. Angel Benitez Jr., from Miami, completed the podium finishers in the No. 05 JDX Racing Porsche.
2014 Platinum Cup champion Colin Thompson, from Doylestown, Pa., finished fourth in his first start of the season in the series in the No. 05 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche. Lucas Catania, from Cazenovia, New York, rounded out the top five in the No. 26 NGT Motorsport Porsche.
David Ducote, from Houston, edged two-time and reigning Platinum Masters champion Kasey Kuhlman in his first start of 2015 in the class after racing this entire season in Gold Cup.
Newly crowned Gold Cup and Gold Masters champion Jeff Mosing, from Austin, Texas, continued his dominance of those classes by winning both today on the circuit in Northern California that features the iconic “Corkscrew” turn complex.
Skeer, 21, pulled away from pole at the start and avoided all of the side-by-side contact that unfolded behind him in the tight first three corners of the 11-turn, 2.238-mile track. He built a 4.977-second lead over Lazare just 13 minutes into the race when the only full-course yellow of the race was triggered when Kurt Fazekas’ car was stuck in the gravel in turn three after an incident.
Lazare, Benitez and Thompson lined up behind Skeer on the restart, hoping for an opening to drive through for the lead. Skeer never opened the door even a crack.
Skeer motored away on the restart and built a 2.552-second lead over Lazare with 20 minutes left in the 45-minute race. That lead inexorably grew over the closing laps, with Skeer in cruise control.
The victory was Skeer’s fifth of the season, tying him with Lazare and Benitez atop the Platinum Cup win list this season. But those statistics stood in the background for Skeer, who didn’t secure his drive in the championship until earning the IMSA Scholarship – an award also supported by Porsche and Yokohama – just a few weeks before the season started in March at Sebring International Raceway. Skeer’s road toward the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama started after he participated in the Porsche Young Driver Academy in October 2014.
“If you go back a year, I think it was 50 weeks ago this week, I think I still wasn’t sure what I was doing in 2015,” Skeer said. “There were still a lot of uncertainties, but it all came together.
“And if you had told me that a year later we would be at this point, I would be very, very surprised. Everything that has worked up to this point has all clicked, and I’m just so happy with it all, and there are so many people I have to thank. I’m humbled by the situation.”
Benitez faced pressure late in the race from 2014 Platinum Cup sparring partner Thompson, who raced in another Porsche GT3 Cup series this year. But he held his line and edged Thompson by .959 of a second at the finish.