Kenton Koch piloted a steady race through yellow-flag riddled conditions to keep the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Race 1 victory at Road Atlanta on Thursday.
Driving the No. 8 P1 Motorsports Ligier JS P3, Koch held off his teammate Robby Foley in the No. 17 entry and class points leader Colin Thompson in the No. 14 Norma M30 for Kelly-Moss Road and Race.
Koch’s victory tightened up the points gap, trailing behind Thompson by only 13 points heading into the final round of the season, giving Thompson a clear advantage as he attempts to capture his second IMSA series title.
Rounding out the top-four in the category was driver Tony Ave, who jumped into the No. 44 Ave-Riley AR2 this weekend for Ave Motorsports/Stop Flex in place of series regular Paul D. Fix to secure the LMP3 Masters class victory, for drivers 45-years and older. It is the highest finish for the team thus far this season.
Ave was followed by the LMP3 Masters champion, Naj Husain, who already secured the title at the last race in Trois-Rivieres.
Husain, in the No. 3 entry for Extreme Speed Motorsports/Cloudistics was the picture of consistency, starting and finishing the event from his sixth place starting position, and securing his second-place result in class.
Husain’s teammate and series newcomer, Lance Willsey, captured third place in just his first race in series competition in the No. 33 entry.
Despite Masson’s easy cruise to the finish line to secure his tenth victory of the season, the MPC entries that followed enjoyed a much livelier drive.
Kris Wright in the No. 7 entry for JDC Motorsports sailed under the checkers to take second place, ahead of his teammate Tazio Ottis in the No. 72 entry who was locked in a fierce battle with the No. 21 entry of Stuart Rettie for ODU Motorsports and Lion Rampant Group.
Ottis began the race with the advantage over Rettie, but the Master classman made an early jump on Lap 1 to capture third in MPC.
After two full-course caution periods that lasted three laps each, Ottis was able to tighten the gap and made a pass on Lap 9 to regain his advantage, and he never looked back thereafter, gaining one more position following the third final full-course caution of the race to finish third in class and eighth overall.
Rettie was looking ahead to an uncontested MPC Masters victory, when R. Masson also used the last caution period to his advantage, and overtook Rettie on Lap 26, relegating Rettie to a second-place finish in his category.
One Motorsports returned for their third weekend of series competition with series regular Gerhard Watzinger behind the wheel of the No. 32 Elan DP02.
The Naples, Florida resident tangled with R. Masson early on in the race, pushing for position, but ultimately encountered traffic and settled for third place in the MPC Masters class.
Friday morning’s final 45-minute sprint will determine championship winners in both the LMP3 class, as well as the MPC Masters category. The race will run at 9:25 a.m. on Friday, culminating the inaugural LMP3 season.
RESULTS: Race 1