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Koch Optimistic Despite Being on Sidelines

Rolex 24 PC class winner searching for ride in WeatherTech Championship…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Kenton Koch made the most out of his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut, having dominated January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona to take an emotional class victory in his first race in a Prototype Challenge car.

He also helped the JDC-Miller Motorsports team recover to a fourth place class finish at Sebring after an up and down day that included a few spins and accidents.

Despite being the star of the show in PC at Daytona, Koch does not currently have a full-time ride in the WeatherTech Championship.

JDC-Miller Motorsports is set with its full-time drivers Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson heading into this weekend’s third round of the season at Long Beach.

While Koch said he may return to the Minnesota-based team for the remaining rounds of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, nothing is definite yet. The team is also exploring the purchase of a second Oreca FLM09, which could open up a seat.

For now, it’s left the 21-year-old, a standout in last year’s IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites championship, still exploring his options.

“I would love to run with them because they have treated me very well since I ran with them in IMSA Lites,” Koch told Sportscar365.

“I’m definitely open to run with any other team in PC. I’m not sure about GTD, if there are any opportunities there currently. I’m still slowly speaking to teams and drivers, but have been pretty efficient since the Roar.”

Koch’s main goal right now is trying to find funding in order to aid with his search for a ride.

“Everyone’s looking for money and if you have a little bit, it helps your value go up a little bit more,” he said.

“It’s frustrating because I came up through a ladder system with all of the scholarship money being able to win and get up to the next level. Now you win the Daytona 24 and you get a watch but not much else.

“You would think there more opportunities would open from this, and there has been, but not necessarily the phone ringing off the hook.”

Koch’s quick rise to the top was on the heels of scholarship money from Mazda as part of their Road to 24 ladder program.

He won four straight championships starting with the Skip Barber MazdaSpeed Pro Challenge in 2012-13 followed by the 2014 Battery Tender MX-5 Championship before taking the 2015 Prototype Lites title in 2015 with JDC-Miller.

He is also working with Mazda, testing cars for its new Global MX-5 Cup Program and serving as a driver coach.

Koch’s strong connection with Mazda also poses a potential opportunity to race in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge if a seat becomes available, as well as any other opportunities for the manufacturer.

“It’s more of a wait and see kind of thing,” he said. “If a seat is available, something will come up. I’m wanting to do anything and everything that I possibly can and I want to do it with Mazda because they have helped me so much in the past.

“I want to be able to run what they have and give them some support and help them out as much as possible.”

Despite the setback, Koch has kept a high level of optimism given how things have been for them.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be on the program that I’ve been on,” he said. “Yes, I’m frustrated, but I’m very grateful for having the opportunities that I have had.

“It’s difficult to be mad with the success that I’ve had and looking forward I definitely want to have more of these opportunities and to have more memories that are long lasting.”

Josh Farmer (@jfarmer7710) is a motorsport journalist who has covered sports car racing and other forms of motorsport since 2012. He also contributes to Tribute Racing and other motorsports outlets.

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