Kenton Koch managed treacherous track conditions and pulled away to win Race 1 of IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda weekend at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
While the race ran under sunny, clear skies, overnight thunderstorms drenched the 1.52-mile, 10-turn street circuit, forcing IMSA officials to declare the first race to be a Wet Session, mandating all teams start on Continental rain tires.
The clearing skies presented a challenging situation for competitors. As the 45-minute sprint progressed, the track surface began to dry, causing teams to gamble on their tires and decide whether or not to come into the pits and change to slick tires.
Koch and the P1 Motorsports team made the decision to keep the No. 8 Ligier JS P3 on track, and make the most of his rain tires on the drying race line. It proved to be a positive move, as the Glendora, California resident checked out shortly after the green flag and sailed clean and clear to the checkered flag and the LMP3 victory.
Colin Thompson, who qualified third in his No. 14 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Norma M30 was shuffled back on the start and relegated to fifth position, but proceeded to put on the speed and pressure, making his way back up to the leaders to challenge series-newcomer Stefan Rzadzinski who jumped into the No. 17 Ligier JS P3 entry for P1 Motorsports this weekend.
Rzadzinski made the most of the start, moving up from fifth to second on the first lap, and held his ground for several laps until he saw Thompson in his mirrors. He ultimately conceded position to Thompson on Lap 8, and Thompson pushed on, taking second place in class with Rzadzinski collecting his first series podium in third.
While the youngsters were battling it out in LMP3, the Masters division, for drivers 45 years of age and over, saw its fair share of action as well.
The No. 47 entry of Garrett Kletjian for Forty 7 Motorsports blasted through the start and took advantage of a first-lap kerfuffle to jump from his starting position of 13th all the way to sixth before the first lap concluded.
The only full-course caution period of the race was issued to retrieve the No. 72 of MPC entry Tazio Ottis with JDC Motorsports, but when the field went green just two laps later, Kletjian was firmly in position and holding.
Meanwhile, class points leader Naj Husain in the No. 3 Ligier JS P3 for Extreme Speed Motorsports kept an eye on the No. 47 from his eighth-place starting position.
Ensnared the first-lap tangle, Husain was pushed back to 10th when he chose to pit and change to slick tires, but as the field went back to green, he began his hunt for Kletjian, gaining ground until he tucked into Kletjian’s mirrors by Lap 13.
From there, the two deftly wove through traffic in lockstep until Husain saw an advantage on Lap 20 and made his move to take the top step of the podium in class, with Kletjian following, taking a well-earned second-place finish.
Gary Gibson, who started in sixth position in the No. 13 Team Perfect Pedal Elan DP02, blazed his way through the field to capture second place overall, as well as the MPC and MPC Masters victories.
Kyle Masson started from the overall as well as class pole position in his No. 18 MPC entry for Performance Tech Motorsports but was collected in the first-lap incident and forced to pit for inspection and repair.
Race 2 is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET with coverage available at IMSA.tv.
Results: Race 1