IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Event News and Notes

(Article reprinted with permission from IMSA.com)

 IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Event News and Notes

 

CONTINENTAL TIRE ROAD RACE CHALLENGE

 

The tight confines of Lime Rock Park’s 1.47-mile, 7-turn road course became an interesting arena for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series, a mix of two classes of differing machinery in the Continental Tire Road Race Challenge. It was a battle of the modern, high-horsepower LMP3 cars versus the nimble and quick Elan DP02 MPC entries that have been in the series since its inception.

Colin Thompson and his Kelly-Moss Road and Race team grabbed the pole for today’s contest in the No. 14 Norma M30 and were never troubled by the MPC field. Thompson entered the weekend leading in championship points, notwithstanding considerable damage to his Norma on a rainy Watkins Glen International weekend a few weeks ago.

Former series champion Kenton Koch had Thompson in his sights from Lap 1, as he immediately jumped to second place at the start of the race in the No. 8 P1 Motorsports Ligier JS P3. Koch was hoping to tighten up the points contest where he is second to Thompson, despite missing the first two races at Sebring International Raceway.

Thompson set the early pace for the race with Koch in tow, eventually encountering slower traffic midway through the race. Koch stayed locked in on Thompson in an attempt to gain an advantage at some point on the tight circuit, but never got a good look around him as the two cycled through the lapped competitors. As the pair carved their way through the field toward the checkered flag, Thompson held on to his lead and took the win, his second of the season, relegating Koch to second-place.

Koch’s teammate Robby Foley, held his position throughout the race in the No. 17 Ligier, grabbing the third step on the podium in LMP3 competition, his first podium in only three races of IMSA Prototype Challenge competition since his series start at Watkins Glen International.

As has been the case most the season, Kyle Masson put up another tough fight in his older Elan DP02, MPC chassis. The driver of the No. 18 Performance Tech Motorsports/Neurospine Institute entry gave Thompson a run for his money in qualifying and all practice sessions, but was no match in today’s race.

Masson did, however, keep close watch on the pair of Thompson and Koch while all three contended with slower cars. Masson ran quick, consistent laps, creating a nearly 30-second gap on second-place finisher Kris Wright in the No. 7 of JDC Motorsports. Masson now has eight wins in nine races under his belt.

Wright was followed to the finish by fellow JDC Motorsports pilot Tazio Ottis, who took third in MPC competition in the No. 72 entry. Ottis is currently second in MPC points leading into this weekend, and his finish Saturday reinforces his position in the championship standings.

Paul Fix, in the only American-made LMP3 chassis, took another win in LMP3 Masters competition in his No. 44 Ave Motorsports/Stop Flex Ave-Riley AR2. Fix now has two wins and three podiums to his credit in the last five races as he continues to improve in the AR2 chassis.

Naj Husain, who has a comfortable lead in the LMP3 Masters championship went off track early on Lap 1, making light contact in the barriers in Turn 1 causing the only full-course caution period of the race. He resumed competition in his No. 3 entry for Extreme Speed Motorsports/Cloudistics, but ultimately finished several laps back, and in second place in class.

Stuart Rettie gained two positions during the race to take the top spot in MPC Masters in his ODU Motorsports/Lion Rampant Group No. 21 car. It was his first class win of the season to go along with his four podiums thus far.

He was joined in a tight MPC Masters battle with Robert Masson, Kyle’s father, in the No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports/Global Microsurgical Center entry and the No. 13 of Gary Gibson and Team Perfect Pedal. The three were running closely throughout the race with Gibson taking point for nearly the entire race until he went off track on the last lap, putting him out of contention.

Rettie and Masson battled throughout the event just behind Gibson. Masson had the lead between the two of them, but had a slight spin on Lap 26, giving up his position to Rettie who held it until Gibson’s demise, grabbing victory late in the game.

Masson remained in lockstep with Rettie and finished in second position with his teammate Howard Jacobs in the No. 77 Performance Tech Motorsports/CardioAccess car finishing in third place. It was Jacob’s first career podium finish.

 

Qualifying:

 

In qualifying, Thompson and Masson had a heated battle for the overall pole position, with Masson settling a blistering time on Lap 6 in the 20-minute session, holding on to his position until Thompson upped his game and laid down a time of 49.498 seconds on Lap 14, late in the session to take the Pole.

Masson claimed his class pole position, and started on the outside of row one for the race, alongside Thompson, the first time LMP3 and MPC class contenders have started side-by-side.

Husain was quickest in the LMP3 Masters category, starting in tenth position on the grid and first in class.
For more information on all IMSA competition – or to access IMSA Radio, which will have live streaming audio of both races – visit IMSA.com.
For more information about the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #IMSAPC @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.

 

Race 1 Driver Quotes:

 

Colin Thompson – No. 14, Kelly-Moss Road and Race – LMP3 Winner
“On paper, it probably looked pretty boring because I was just at the top the whole time but there was nothing boring about that race. Kenton [Koch] put on so much pressure and I got lucky with traffic a couple times and he made, I think, one mistake and it put him back a couple but it was just a battle of the tires at the end. Everybody’s tires were smoked and any chance I had I was trying to cool them. Obviously if you are trying to cool tires your pace falls off and Kenton was right back on me. It was really difficult. He had a few really nice shots at trying to overtake and we were able to defend and bring home the win.”

Paul D. Fix  – No. 44, Ave Motorsports – LMP3 Masters Winner

“It was good. This is a favorite track of mine. Minding traffic and it was a great win for the team. Tony Ave put a great car underneath me today and it’s good to celebrate at a home track.”

Kyle Masson – No. 18, Performance Tech Motorsports – MPC Winner

“The race was really exciting, but exhausting. It’s a very physical track. It’s so short that you don’t have much of a break in between laps. The straightaway is not too big to really cool ourselves off after the segment of corners we just completed. I was racing with the LMP3’s that were ahead of me. Lap time-wise they were a little quicker at the beginning of the race, taking advantage of the straightaway, but then their tires started to fall off. I ran consistent laps throughout the whole race and my fastest laps were at the end of the race when traffic started to get in my way and I got a little angry and wanted to push harder to catch back up. Everything was great about it. My Continental tires they lasted the whole race and I was able to run the same lap times. It was really impressive and that was a big advantage I had over the LMP3s. They have a big V8 motor and there is nothing I can do about that. It was a really fun race and the car was set-up great. I never really looked in my mirrors for anyone behind me. I wasn’t really focused on that. But it was great to awesome to be up front with the LMP3s and running with them.”

Stuart Rettie – No. 21, ODU Motorsports – MPC Masters Winner

“It was a great race, but interesting because I’ve never had such terrible oversteer in these cars and today it was very, very tricky in the corners. But I really just need to thank the team (ODU Motorsports) because we’ve had really a tough three weeks and we had to put a new motor in this weekend. Electronic gremlins kept me back from qualifying. So, the team did a fabulous job getting the car ready and I appreciate all the work they did.”

 

About IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda:

IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda, an International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Challenge Series, is in its 12th season in 2017. The series provides thrilling action and grooms drivers for future IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition.Action will be divided into two classes in 2017, blending new and existing IMSA machinery. The LM P3 class will feature LM P3 chassis from as many as six different constructors powered by identical V8 engines. The MPC class will use the existing Élan DP02 chassis powered by Mazda engines that previously comprised the Lites 1 class of the series.

Nine of the 13 rounds on the 2017 schedule will take place during WeatherTech Championship weekends, putting drivers and teams into the brightest sports car racing spotlight in North America. Most event weekends will include a pair of 45-minute sprint races. For more information about Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda, visit  www.imsa.com , follow hashtag #IMSAPC @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.

 

About IMSA:


The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) was originally founded in 1969 and owns a long and rich history in sports car racing. Today, IMSA is the sanctioning body of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the premier sports car racing series in North America. IMSA also sanctions the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA – a company within the NASCAR family – is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. For more information, visit www.IMSA.com , www.twitter.com/IMSA or www.facebook.com/IMSA.

 

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