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.
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.
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