- The Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR is campaigned by Montreal Motorsports Group (MMG) which is eager to leverage its race experience into IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge.
- MMG is comprised of sixteen, proud Canadian members who collectively have achieved tremendous international success in different racing series.
- The Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway was the first chance for the team and Pit+Paddock’s driver duo to drive the FL5 Civic Type R TCR.
- The team hopes to leverage its impressive resume to quickly make a statement in its inaugural IMSA campaign alongside Pit+Paddock.
The IMSA calendar begins with a bang. During what IMSA calls the “Roar Before the Rolex 24”, each Michelin Pilot Challenge team has three, short days to get acclimated to its equipment. After that grueling trio, there are happily two days of rest before those same teams, and their drivers, are shoved straight into a four-hour endurance test that pushes each man, woman, and machine to the limit.
For Montreal Motorsport Group (MMG), that three-day stint was even more important. The newly formed team would not only have to come to grips with its two-car lineup — including the Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR — but also each other and its drivers. To true motorsport newcomers, this task would be extremely daunting. But don’t let the Instagram follower count fool you; MMG’s entry into IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge is something that the rest of the paddock noticed.
That notoriety comes from MMG’s collective racing achievements outside of North America. The three co-owners embrace dual roles: Eric Côté is MMG’s Technical Director, Benjamin Distaulo, acts as Team Manager, Nick Wittmer brings in first-hand race-winning experience and technical ability, and, last but not least, Sabrina D’Amico manages the team’s logistics. Martin Guimont and Alain Blanchard are the respective Crew Chief, and Lead Mechanic for the team.
Listing each person’s resume would take hours, but the team’s roster is an all-star amalgamation that logs victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche Carrera Cup, WEC, and the 24 Hours of Daytona — the host venue of IMSA’s opener — as well as impressive management achievements with Samantha Tan Racing, Lombardi Honda, and OEMs.
Amongst other important accolades, the founding membership collective claimed series victories in the 2019 SRO GT4 America Championship and the 2021 Creventic 24H Series GT Championship while also participating in the 2022 GT World Challenge 24 Hours of Spa. “Each team member is thrilled to undertake this new project,” Distaulo, MMG Team Manager said. “The years and the level of experience of each crew member promises two competitive MMG Hondas for 2024.”
The team’s history and achievements make Pit+Paddock’s IMSA entry even more significant. Dai Yoshihara and Karl Wittmer are the two pilots behind the Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR and will look to extract the most out of it and the team’s experience. Although the Roar Before the Rolex 24 was the first chance the pair had to drive the car and interface with the team for an extended period, their impression of MMG couldn’t have been more favorable.
“The team is super professional and has brought a ton of really helpful race knowledge to the table. I’m so happy to be competing in IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge this year with MMG and Karl [Wittmer] and I’m grateful to Pit+Paddock and all of our sponsors for helping make that happen,” comments Yoshihara.
Industry titans like ARP, ENEOS, Turn 14 Distribution, Mishimoto, Whiteline, and DBA, a majority whose names you’d recognize from our single season in TC America, have migrated with us to IMSA to support us, MMG, and our two drivers battle throughout the Michelin Pilot Challenge calendar.
INTERVIEW WITH MONTREAL MOTORSPORT GROUP
While there was a break in the action during the Roar Before the Rolex 24, we sat down with Sabrina D’Amico in the team garage. There, we were able to collect a more complete story about Montreal Motorsport Group, including why it wants to race in IMSA and the formidable pilots behind the Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR.
What was the impetus for forming the Montreal Motorsport Group?
Benjamin Distaulo’s passion and knowledge of the sport, as well as his frustration at times while working with other teams, allowed him to take control of his destiny. He assembled MMG with the other co-owners: Eric Cote, Nick Wittmer, and myself. MMG is formed of all-Canadian crew members whose collective goal is to make Canada shine in IMSA.
How did MMG decide that it wanted to compete in North America’s premier series, IMSA? And specifically, the TCR class in IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge?
IMSA was an easy choice for MMG since IMSA is the leading, and most competitive, sportscar racing series in North America. We know we can compete with the best of them and are up for the challenge. Regarding TCR, we want to start here as a stepping stone into the IMSA series. The goal is to later grow towards and develop a GT3 Program.
Talk to us about the JAS Motorsport-built FL5 Type R. What do you like and what challenges do you foresee going into 2024?
The FL5 Type R TCR is very well-built and engineered. Challenges will be helping JAS and HRC R&D the car to be reliable and to win races.
Talk to us about your IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge driver lineup. What do Karl and Dai bring to the table as a collective and as individuals?
Karl’s experience, factory-supported status, and professionalism will help MMG prove to the paddock that we are an asset to any manufacturer. Dai’s raw talent can be easily molded into a champion with our experienced crew and with Karl as his mentor. Dai’s visibility and brand are also big assets to draw attention to our team and our success in the Michelin Pilot Challenge championship.
I know Dai and Karl have worked together before while Yoshihara raced in TC America. How do you feel this relationship will be valuable as the pair gel into this new working relationship in IMSA?
Karl’s ability as a coach will help Dai go to the next level in motorsport. Karl’s experience and confidence behind the wheel will round out Dai’s talent and further ascend his status as a professional driver.
Talk to us about your partnership with Pit+Paddock. What does this relationship do for your team and how has it been so far?
We are thankful for the trust and support that Pit+Paddock has for us. The agency will allow MMG to grow and get to the next level of motorsport where we eventually want to be. We strongly believe that Pit+Paddock’s marketing expertise and MMG’s motorsport experience are a formidable combination. We will achieve great things together.
What has testing taught you so far about the car, the team, and your potential for the 2024 season?
The Roar allowed MMG to learn the car, the car’s set-up, and our driver’s capabilities. We feel we will be very competitive for the first race at Daytona and throughout the season.
DON’T MISS OUT
The BMW M Endurance Challenge action starts today (Wednesday, January 24) with the first practice session at 3:05 PM ET, one more practice and qualifying tomorrow, and the final practice and full four-hour race on Friday. Be sure to tune in and support the Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR, Montreal Motorsport Group, and our two incredible drivers.
Thank you to Sabrina D’Amico from Montreal Motorsport Group (MMG) for taking the time to speak with us during the hectic Roar Before the Rolex 24 testing schedule. We are grateful to have the support of ARP, ENEOS, Turn 14 Distribution, Mishimoto, Whiteline, and DBA for this year’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge campaign.