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Weekend Racing Roundup, 3.23

MX-5, GT3 and Prototype Lites kick off seasons at Sebring…

Photo: Al Merion Padron

Photo: Al Merion Padron

In the second Weekend Racing Roundup of 2015, the IMSA Development Series and Mazda MX-5 Cup kicked off their seasons at Sebring International Raceway, while the Audi R8 LMS Cup held its opening round of the season in China.

Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup

Drake Kemper and John Dean II won the opening rounds of the Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup season at Sebring, with the latter’s win coming in dramatic fashion.

Kemper, the 2014 Skip Barber class champion, started fifth in Round 1, quickly moved to the lead on Lap 5 and held off his rivals the rest of the race. Sick Sideways Racing teammate and Sebring native John Dean II drove from ninth to second, with polesitter Patrick Gallagher back on the podium in third for his first top-three result since Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last July. The race ended under caution after an accident in Turn 17, but driver Kyle Loustaunau was OK afterwards.

Round 2 came down to a one-lap shootout between Dean, Gallagher and Dean Copeland. Gallagher made a move to Dean’s inside before Copeland opted to go to the outside and make it three-wide into Turn 17. Although Gallagher gave it a final run on Dean down the front straight, he came up just 0.036 of a second short. Copeland fell to fourth behind Nathanial Sparks.

Race 1 — 1. Sick Sideways Racing (Drake Kemper), 2. Sick Sideways Racing (John Dean II), 3. Atlanta Motorsports Group (Patrick Gallagher)

Race 2 — 1. Sick Sideways Racing (John Dean II), 2. Atlanta Motorsports Group (Patrick Gallagher), 3. Sick Sideways Racing (Nathanial Sparks)

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama 

It was a big weekend for IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA, which along with Yokohama announced an extension with IMSA through 2017 and witnessed two young stars dominate the weekend.

Canadian series sophomore Jesse Lazare, who at only 17 is still very young with room to grow, swept the weekend with his new team of Kelly-Moss Motorsports. Meanwhile IMSA Scholarship winner Elliott Skeer opened his account with a pair of runner-up results, trailing Lazare by 2.175 seconds (Round 1) and 0.121 of a second (Round 2).

Wright Motorsports had a strong weekend with Skeer scoring the pair of podium results and Michael Schein and Kasey Kuhlman, the latter who is the reigning Platinum Masters champion, adding two more to their tally.

Race 1 — 1. Kelly-Moss Motorsports (Jesse Lazare), 2. Wright Motorsports (Elliott Skeer), 3. Wright Motorsports (Michael Schein)

Race 2 — 1. Kelly-Moss Motorsports (Jesse Lazare), 2. Wright Motorsports (Elliott Skeer), 3. Wright Motorsports (Kasey Kuhlman)

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites

A pair of tall, lanky open wheel veterans-turned-sports car rising stars split the two IMSA Prototype Lites races at Sebring. Last year’s Mazda MX-5 Cup champion Kenton Koch won Thursday’s Round 1 with his JDC Motorsports teammate Clark Toppe emerging ahead in Friday’s Round 2.

Koch (pictured above) enjoyed a perfect start to his debut weekend in the series, with a flag-to-flag win from pole in Round 1 over Toppe and Frenchman Nico Jamin, who will race full-time in the USF2000 open-wheel series this season. Koch had a 6.2 second lead wiped out as the race ended under caution.

In Round 2, Toppe edged Koch by just 0.624 of a second for his first win in the series. Toppe started third while Koch had a harder task on the day after starting 10th.

Race 1 — 1. JDC Motorsports (Kenton Koch), 2. JDC Motorsports (Clark Toppe), 3. ANSA Motorsports (Nico Jamin)

Race 2 — 1. JDC Motorsports (Clark Toppe), 2. JDC Motorsports (Kenton Koch), 3. Performance Tech Motorsports (Robert Alon)

Photo: Audi AG

Photo: Audi AG

Audi R8 LMS Cup

Reigning Audi R8 LMS Cup champion Alex Yoong won the opening round of the 2015 season at Zhuhai. Pole-sitter Rahel Frey ran wide, allowing Yoong to take the lead. The Malaysian pulled away immediately and held onto the lead.

Race two only lasted a couple of laps. Sawdust had been put down following in oil spill, but was sucked into the cars, blocking cooling systems and causing engines to overheat. The race was red flagged and not restarted.

Race 1 — 1. Audi TEDA Racing (Alex Yoong), 2. Castrol Racing Team (Rahel Frey), 3. Team Audi R8 LMS Cup (Aditya Patel)

Race 2 — 1. Audi TEDA Racing (Alex Yoong), 2. Team Audi R8 LMS Cup (Aditya Patel), 3. Team FM Racing (Thomas Fjordbach)

Marcel ten Caat contributed to this report

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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