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Koch Dominates in Prototype Challenge Series Return at Barber

Koch dominates in return to new-look Prototype Challenge series…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Kenton Koch won overall from pole in the No. 8 P1 Motorsports Ligier JS P3, fending off Andres Gutierrez by 0.875 seconds after a late race restart in the first IMSA Prototype Challenge Powered by Mazda race of the weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

Koch, the 2015 champion of the series then known as IMSA Lites, led by over seven seconds midway through the race before his advantage was erased by the second full-course caution period with 19 minutes of the 45-minute race remaining.

After withstanding a charge by Gutierrez on the subsequent restart, Koch was once again forced to defend the race lead when the safety car was deployed for the third and final time with 10 minutes to go after Brian Alder’s MPC class Elan DP02 became stranded in the gravel trap.

The race restarted with just three minutes remaining, and Koch pulled away from Gutierrez on the two-lap dash to the checkered flag to pick up the overall win.

Gutierez was followed by Robert La Rocca and the Norma M30 of Colin Thompson, with the MPC class-winner Kyle Masson in fifth overall.

Although the race was slowed by full course cautions three times, there were no major incidents.

The first caution came due to a spin in Turn 1 of the first lap when Stephen Dawes’ MPC entry and Matthew Dicken’s Ligier spun, but both cars continued on.

The second caution was for debris which came off of the rear of Colin Thompson’s Norma chassis.

Race 2 for the series is scheduled for Saturday at 12 p.m. CT.

RESULTS: Race 1

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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