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Qualifying action today from Silverstone got underway under rainy conditions. After an impressive showing in free practice Jake Gagne was enthusiastic about his prospects for grabbing a solid starting position. Tomas Puerta was confident that his crew had solved the problems that were plaguing during the free practice sessions. The rain wasn't too much of an issue for the riders as Jake has won races and claimed the 2014 AMA Daytona Sportbike Championship in the rain and Tomas is known for his wet weather skills.
Qualifying proceeded in wet conditions and Jake Gagne had been circulating up in P2 as the session was red flagged and halted. Tomas Puerta was fighting rear grip issues but was able to progress through the pack.
Upon the restart of qualifying Jake had a moment on his second lap out. Unfortunately he re-injured his shoulder. The initial injury occurred during his final race in the AMA season at New Jersey Motorsports Park. After completing the sighting and warm-up laps, the injury was too severe and Jake had to sit out the race and he will his reevaluate his shoulder in the morning.
Tomas Puerta gridded up for the sprint race and was able to ride strong all race long. His apparent struggles behind him, he was able to turn faster and faster laps as the race progressed, eventually crossing the line in P20.
|Tomas Puerta during the afternoon Sprint Race|
Performance Tech Motorsport's season ended early despite the team's resilient efforts at Road Atlanta for the 17th Annual Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda.
The season ended when driver Jerome Mee was pushing hard to pass a GTLM car coming into Turn 12. The No. 38 Dash Neighborhood/ Phillips 66 Prototype Challenge car went wide and hit the wall. Mee was able to continue and brought the car into the pits.
Once in the pits, Team Principal Brent O'Neill and his crew decided they would try to repair the car. This would be the third repair of the race. But once back at the paddock, it was determined that the damage was greater than expected, and the team was forced to retire shortly after the five-hour mark of the 10-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship endurance classic.
"On the restart, Jerry just made a little mistake," O'Neill said. "He got wide in 12 and got in the dirt, then bounced it off the wall to the inside. Atlanta hasn't been kind to us the last two years. We'll go home and lick our wounds and get ready for next year."
Performance Tech put up quite the fight throughout the race. Driver David Ostella took the car from ninth to fifth at the start of the race. He climbed to fourth before the car's wire to the compressor broke, making it impossible for Ostella to shift. The car slowed suddenly and was struck from behind by a passing car. The team brought the Prototype Challenge car to the paddock and found and repaired the problem in 15 minutes. The team re-entered the race 19 laps down from the PC field leader.
"The team hustled all weekend," Ostella said. "They got the car fixed quickly and back out there to give us a fighting chance. I have to thank them for that. It's sad that it had to end this way, but things happen you can't plan for, and we will all move on."
James French's stint went on without drama as he made progress around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile course. The car's mechanical woes were behind it, and French turned consistent laps.
"It went excellent out there for me," French said. "It went as good as it could. The guys had done a great job fixing the car right before my stint. They did a great job of fixing it quickly while we completed the driver change. The car ran well for the entire stint. I just tried to keep my nose clean and go as quickly as I could and stay out of harm's way. Definitely thanks to everyone who made this happen, everyone on the team and my dad and mom."
Mee was behind the wheel of the PC for two stints, both of which featured many of the 11 yellow flags Performance Tech encountered before it retired. Mee showedconsistent speed and a talent for restarts.
His second stint ended early due to the Turn 12 incident.
"I felt comfortable in the car," Mee said. "The race environment was chaotic, but once I got my pace going and got around a lot of GTD cars, I acclimated. JJ (driver coach Jonatan Jorge) did a great job letting me know where all the cars were coming from. I felt good. It's just unfortunate on the second stint I passed a GTLM car coming over the bridge and went wide. That just killed me, a rough way to end."
Performance Tech Motorsports soon will focus on 2015. The team's test schedule and driver development program begins in early November.
The Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta wrapped up the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on Saturday night. While the headliner was the 10-Hour TUDOR race, the weekend also featured the season finale for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and season ending double-headers for both the Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires and the Cooper Tires IMSA Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda. These four series are among a wide variety of roadracing series featuring Mazda cars and teams. The Mazda Road to Indy seasons wrapped up in late August, while there are still a few more weekends of major club racing events between now and year end.
John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations noted: “In a traditional ‘racing sense’ the highlight of the season was the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race where we scored our best finish of the season. But the true highlight of the season is the ‘miracle’ that was achieved in this Mazda program...and the progress that was made each step of the way. What we did by putting a production diesel engine in an endurance racing prototype has never been done before and we believe it is the best way to showcase SKYACTIV Technology and Mazda’s overall brand strength. In the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge we enjoyed three great wins. Both our MX-5 Cup and the IMSA Prototype Lites saw large grids and amazing racing. Congratulations to our latest Mazda SportsCar Racing Academy champions.”
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – Using the smallest engine, one that is 51 percent stock, meant that the Mazda SKYACTIV team had a huge engineering task in front of them. The team worked tirelessly all year long and their efforts were applauded by competitors and fans alike. The SpeedSource teams finished the season ranked ninth and eleventh in points.
Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – Thanks to three race wins and a dozen podium finishes from Freedom Autosport and CJ Wilson Racing, Mazda finished third in the ST Manufacturers Championship, just one point behind second place. Andrew Carbonell and Randy Pobst scored two of the wins while Tom Long teamed up with U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer for their memorable Memorial Day weekend win.
Mazda would like to congratulate three successful alums who claimed championships this weekend. 2008 MX-5 Cup Champion Eric Foss won the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST Drivers Championship, 2010 Mazda/Skip Barber Karting Shootout winner Trent Hindman won the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS Drivers Championship, and 2007 Star Mazda Champion Dane Cameron won the TUDOR GT Daytona Drivers Championship.
Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires – Sebastian Landy was the star of the weekend scoring his first two race wins. Kenton Koch finished fourth and second, which added to his six previous wins, earning him the championship. Drake Kemper won the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge class championship. Lucas Catania was the Rookie-of-the-Year, while his father, Joseph Catania, was awarded the Masters Championship. ALARA Racing was awarded Team-of-the-Year, while Ken Murillo won the Spirit of Mazda award.
Cooper Tires IMSA Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda – Mikhail Goikhberg ended the season the same way he started it – with a win. Goikhberg won nine of the 14 races to easily take the championship. Matt McMurry won the other Lites race at Road Atlanta.
While the Petit weekend closes out the professional road racing season, the action is not completely done for the year. October 10-12 will see the 51st Annual SCCA National Championship Runoffs take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This is the largest club road racing event in the country and more than 500 cars have entered. Among the entries are 132 Mazda and Mazda-powered racers.
Thirty-two podiums. Two championships. One team. The 2014 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season was the definition of success for Kelly Moss Motorsports.
In the hunt all season, the team entered the season finale Friday, Oct. 3 in a three-way tie for first place in the Platinum Cup Team Championship race. It was winner take all in the final race.
Through weather changes, multiple yellow flags and breathtaking racing action, Colin Thompson brought home the No. 14 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County Porsche home in first to secure the Platinum Team Championship for Kelly Moss, while earning his first Platinum Driver Championship.
"It's absolutely the ultimate," Kelly Moss Vice President Jeff Stone said. "This was absolutely fantastic racing down to the last lap. I had to hold my breath for 45 minutes. For the Team Championship to come down right to the very end just shows how great the season was."
Thompson started Rounds 15 and 16 in pole position. In the first race Thursday, Thompson knew he had a fast car but just couldn't put it all together, finishing third. He dropped to second in the championship, just one point behind Michael Lewis, setting up for a dramatic last race.
On Friday, weather conditions took a turn for the worse. Heavy clouds opened up before the 45-minute race, guaranteeing a wet start.
Pole sitter Thompson took the field to the green flag with smooth precision in the treacherous conditions. Lewis and Sloan Urry, who started second and third, respectively, spun in the slick conditions exiting Turn 12 behind Thompson before crossing the start-finish line to begin the race. Both were eliminated from the race.
Once the race restarted, Thompson battled title rival Angel Benitez Jr., pulling away to as much as a seven-second lead before a caution bunched the field. After the restart, Benitez closed in on Thompson, but Thompson was able to stay in first, securing his title.
"It was killer," Thompson said. "Porsche of Bucks County set me up with a car, and they're the reason I'm here. And Kelly-Moss Motorsports, we pulled it together. What a race!"
In addition to Thompson's magnificent title drive, there was no shortage of highlights for the entire Kelly Moss lineup. Driver Dan Weyland finished in third place in Platinum Masters for Round 16. It was his first career podium finish and a big highlight for the entire Kelly Moss team.
"This was the most fun I've ever had on a racetrack," Weyland said. "I love the rain. The rain at the start was, of course, almost undriveable. I haven't been on a podium ever, so this is a great day. To have had my team up there cheering for me - it feels great."
In the Gold Class, David Ducote continued his podium trend, picking up four total podiums throughout the two days of racing. In Round 15, he finished third in Gold and second in Gold Masters. In Round 16, Ducote picked up two additional second-place finishes in Gold and Gold Masters.
"Lots of excitement, lots of action, lots of exciting things happening on the track," Ducote said. "Kelly Moss gave me a good setup all weekend, and the car felt as good as you could expect under the conditions we had today."
Ducote finished on the podium in five of his six starts in the Gold class this season. His father, Wayne Ducote, finished the race weekend with fifth- and 10th-place finishes, respectively.
"The weekend was great," Wayne Ducote said. "The racing was terrific. I had a good battle yesterday with (Fred) Poordad. We passed each other twice and were head-to-tail for 45 minutes, and I prevailed to finish sixth, which made me very happy. Today (Friday) I was doing fine until I ran out of transmission. But it was a great time. The team was great. Kelly Moss really is the best."
William Peluchiwski also picked up a top-five finish in Round 16 after finishing eighth in Gold Masters in Round 15. Peluchiwski also was awarded the Yokohama Hard Charger award for Round 16, presented to the driver who advances the most places from start to finish.
"It was great to win the Hard Charger Award," Peluchiwski said. "I had been struggling over the weekend, and to win that at the end was a great result. Thank you to Kelly Moss."
Kelly Moss ended the season with 32 podiums between its drivers, and the Road Atlanta event was the perfect exclamation point.
"It's been a phenomenal season," Stone said. "I can't say enough about our Kelly Moss crew. All of our guys are just awesome. All of our drivers are absolutely amazing and like family.
"I really wish Paul Barnhart and Seth Davidow could have been here this weekend. We missed them both. But it was really great to see Bill get the Hard Charger and see Dan Weyland get on the podium.
"To see Colin win it the way he did was just fantastic. A special thanks to Jens Walther and all the help from Porsche Motorsport and the guys at Porsche and IMSA. I also have to thank all the folks back at Kelly Moss - the guys back home, and to my brother, I couldn't do any of this without him. I also want to give a special thanks to our sponsor and friends at Brey-Krause, specifically Dodge and Vicky Whipple and the "Walrus." And to my wife, Ekram, thank for continuing to be my biggest supporter through this all, it means so much to me. I couldn't be happier."
Randy Pobst and Andrew Carbonell gave Freedom Autosport a great season finale by finishing second in the ST class during Friday’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Road Atlanta. Their No. 26 Mazda MX-5 was the highest-finishing Mazda in the class.
The race marked the fifth trip to the podium for Pobst and Carbonell this season. They ended 2014 with two wins, one second and two thirds. In all, Freedom Autosport amassed three wins, one second and three thirds during the season.
Pobst started the race from the 16th spot on the grid, which gave him the tough job of trying to move the No. 26 MX-5 through the middle of the pack. A great pit stop by the Freedom Autosport crew during the first full-course caution meant that Carbonell took up the chase in seventh place. From there, he continued to surge forward, crossing the finish line less than one second behind the winner.
“This was a fabulous end to a great season,” said Pobst. “Andrew and the whole Freedom Autosport team did such a good job. It was a big comeback, really. We started further back, and the longer we ran, the better the Mazda ran. Special thanks to Glenn Long for running this team, and to Derek Whitis, Rhett O’Doski and Mazda Motorsports for the opportunity.”
“That Mazda MX-5 can really keep its Continental tires under it for a long time, so the longer we’re under green, the better, but we had a lot of cautions today,” said Carbonell. “This car has been so competitive all year. Freedom Autosport has always done a great job preparing the MX-5, and racing with Randy all year has been a real honor for me.”
Mark Pombo put in a solid qualifying effort in the No. 25 Mazda MX-5, securing the fifth spot on the grid. He and Mat Pombo were optimistic after finishing third at Circuit of the Americas last month. As the first hour of the race progressed, Mark moved into third place. Unfortunately, a crash exiting turn 12 took the No. 25 out of contention.
Britt Casey, Jr., returned for his third race with Freedom Autosport in the No. 27 Mazda MX-5. The 16-year-old had never raced at Road Atlanta before, but he set a qualifying time that put him at 18th for the start. Casey and co-driver Christian Szymczak, who was making his Freedom Autosport debut, ran a steady race to finish 16th.
The season finale and Freedom Autosport’s podium finish will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 at noon on October 12.
“This has been a memorable season for Freedom Autosport: we’ve had a lot of success on the track, and we were able to have veterans driving for us,” said team co-owner Derek Whitis. “Mark Pombo drove with the team all season, and it was an honor to have U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Liam Dwyer join us for three rounds. We look forward to continuing to foster driving opportunities for military veterans in our 2015 season.”
Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher claimed the No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) will also lead their respective categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the fourth of six playoff events during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
Schumacher, who won the opening two events of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, posted a career-best 3.733-second pass at 327.51 mph in his U.S. Army dragster to lead the field into eliminations. It was the seven-time world champ’s 76th career No. 1 qualifier, fourth of the season and seventh at Reading. Schumacher, who has a Top Fuel best 76 career victories, will open eliminations against Bob Vandergriff.
Schumacher’s seventh No. 1 qualifier at Maple Grove Raceway was a Top Fuel qualifying record. No other driver has ever had more than six No. 1s at a single track.
Brittany Force qualified second with a 3.737 at 328.78 in the Castrol EDGE dragster. She will face Terry McMillen to start. Kalitta Motorsports teammates J.R. Todd and Doug Kalitta drove their dragsters to the third and fourth starting spots with Todd running a 3.738 at 325.77 in the Optima Batteries dragster while Kalitta posted a 3.747 at 326.95 in the Mac Tools dragster. Todd will race Dom Lagana while Kalitta opens with Clay Millican. St. Louis winner and 2012 world champ Antron Brown faces Khalid alBalooshi in the first round following a 3.762 at 323.50 in his Matco Tools dragster.
John Force qualified second with a 3.997 at a track record speed of 323.97 in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Force, a 16-time world champ and seven-time winner at Reading, opens eliminations against Bob Tasca III. Don Schumacher Racing’s Matt Hagan raced to a 4.008 at 321.50 in the Rocky Boots Dodge Charger, good enough for the No. 3 qualifier and a first round matchup with Tony Pedregon. Courtney Force, trailing her father by 30 points in the standings when the weekend began, is fourth in the Traxxas Ford Mustang following a 4.008 at 320.36. She races Jeff Arend on Sunday. Robert Hight, the 2009 world champ, faces Tim Wilkerson from the No. 5 spot after his 4.009 at 320.13 at the controls of his Auto Club Ford Mustang.
Shane Gray, the winner at Indianapolis to end the regular season, sits second after a 6.484 at 212.33 in the Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro. Gray will open eliminations against Kenny Delco. Points leader Jason Line is third in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro with a 6.500 at 213.23, earning a first round faceoff with John Gaydosh. Allen Johnson rebounded from a tough start in the Countdown with the No. 4 qualifying spot after a 6.505 at 212.79. He will drive his Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart against first-round foe Larry Morgan. Chicago winner Vincent Nobile starts fifth in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro and will race Dave Connolly after a 6.505 at 212.46 in his Charter Communications Camaro. Connolly, who has won the last two races, is currently second in points.
David Ostella qualified ninth in the Prototype Challenge class in the No. 38 Dash Neighborhood/Phillips 66 of Performance Tech Motorsports for his first Petit Le Mans start.
Ostella turned steady laps around Road Atlanta that averaged in the 1-minute, 17-second range. His top lap of 1:17.533 was just more than a second slower than pole sitter Jack Hawksworth.
Ostella wanted a quicker qualifying lap was but was willing to settle with consistency after missing the final TUDOR United SportsCar Championship practice session of the day.
The session originally was red-flagged due to lightning. The storm turned to heavy rain, and the track opened for practice. But Performance Tech Team Principal Brent O'Neill thought the possible outcome of an incident in heavy rain was too much of a gamble. The team didn't participate in the practice.
Ostella was not worried he found himself starting further back in the field than usual. Instead, rookie Ostella focused on the 10 hours of racing Saturday instead of the 15-minute qualifying session Friday.
"I think we're looking pretty good for the race," Ostella said. "We have a strong and consistent car. With 10 hours ahead of us, that's the best you can ask for. We just have to make sure we stay out there and make as few mistakes as possible during the race. I think I personally could have used that last practice, but I think it only hindered us a little bit because we we're going to throw on new tires and see how we did. We'll be good for the race."
The 17th Annual Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda begins at 11:15 a.m. (ET) tomorrow Saturday, Oct. 4. The race will be broadcast live starting at 11 a.m. on IMSA.com, with live coverage on FOX Sports 2 starting at 3 p.m. FOX Sports will air a highlight show Sunday, Oct. 5. Check local listings for details.
Colin Thompson kept his cool and his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car on track in treacherous, rainy conditions to win the season-ending Round 16 and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship on Oct. 3 at Road Atlanta.
Thompson, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, beat Angel Benitez Jr. to the finish by .685 of a second after starting from the pole in the No. 14 Kelly-Moss/Porsche of Bucks County entry. Christina Nielsen finished third in the 45-minute race in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport Porsche.
Series veteran Thompson earned his first championship by eight points, 254-246, over Benitez. Series rookie Michael Lewis, the championship leader entering this final round, spun out of the race at the start and ended up finishing 21st and third in the championship with 241 points.
|Platinum Cup podium finishers (from left): Angel Benitez Jr., Colin Thompson, Christina Nielsen|
"Porsche of Bucks County set me up with a car, and they're the reason I'm here," Thompson said. "And Kelly-Moss Motorsports, we pulled it together. What a race!"
Michael Levitas, from Baltimore, won the Gold Cup and Gold Masters classes in the No. 35 TPC Racing entry. But a third-place finish in Gold and Gold Masters was enough for Jeff Mosing, from Austin, Texas, to claim the Gold Masters championship - the only other title up for grabs today - by one point over Levitas in the No. 01 Topp Racing Porsche.
The pressure hovering over the start of the race was nearly as thick as the cloud cover. Lewis led Thompson by one point and Benitez by seven points after Benitez won Round 15 Thursday.
But the drama reached its pinnacle for the season even before the field crossed the start-finish line to start the 45-minute race.
Thompson tiptoed through puddles in Turn 12 to head down the front straightaway and take the green to start the race from the pole. But Lewis and the No. 20 JDX RacingPorsche of Sloan Urry, who started second and third, respectively, spun in the slick conditions exiting Turn 12.
Lewis and Urry both bounced on the muddy grass next to the track and made separate contact with the wall. Their respective races were over, just yards past the start-finish line on Lap 1.
Benitez, from Valencia, Venezuela, avoided the spinning cars Friday and cars making evasive maneuvers in the grass and found himself in second place in Turn 2 in his No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport Porsche, with Jesse Lazare third in the No. 31 Door Doctor/Moorespeed entry.
Thompson kept the lead in the ensuing restart and pulled away to a 7.313-second lead over Benitez. But that gap evaporated when Masters competitor Dan Weyland spun in Turn 10, triggering a full-course caution with about 18 minutes remaining in the race.
The rain started to subside when the race restarted with 13 minutes remaining, and Thompson pulled away again. Thompson led Benitez by 2.708 seconds with six minutes left.
But Thompson made a small mistake with three minutes remaining, letting Benitez pull to within .395 of a second with less than two minutes left. Benitez pulled to within a car length of Thompson over the last two laps but couldn't find a way past.
Thompson could have surrendered the lead and still won the championship, but he sealed the deal in powerful style with a victory.
The situation on the opening-lap incident was the opposite for Thompson of Round 15 in dry conditions Thursday. Thompson started from the pole but lost the lead to Lewis in Turn 2 on the first lap, eventually finishing third and losing the points lead to Lewis.
"It took us long enough in the season to get on pole, and it paid off," Thompson said. "In Race 1, I had no idea what to do from pole. I hadn't started from pole since Skip Barber and quarter-midget days. It was different and I had to adapt. I left a gap open, and Lewis got by yesterday, and it made me a little bit worried going into today. But I knew as long as I was in front of him it didn't matter.
"But Angel was right there. It was in the rain, and it got pretty tight at the end there when Angel really closed up. But we pulled it together. It was killer."
Kelly-Moss Motorsports/Porsche of Bucks County won the Team Championship, 257-255, over Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport.
|Platinum Masters podium finishers (from left): David Williams, David Calvert-Jones, Dan Weyland|
But the victory didn't come without drama for Calvert-Jones, from Los Angeles. He was involved in the opening-lap melee triggered by the spins of Lewis and Urry, spinning and collecting the No. 15 Wright Motorsports Porsche of 2014 Platinum Masters champion Kasey Kuhlman.
Kuhlman's race ended against the wall, but Calvert-Jones was able to resume with a damaged rear bumper and drive to victory.
"The start was just crazy," Calvert-Jones said. "I got a little of the mess in front of us with Michael and Sloan. I was checked up, which then spun me, and I spun into Kasey, which is really unfortunate.
"I feel so bad for Kasey. P1 in Masters is great for me, but I want to have a good and clean race with him, and it was out of my control. It's unfortunate. He had a great season."
Williams, from Annapolis, Maryland, earned his fourth Platinum Masters podium finish of the season in the No. 37 TPC Racing Porsche.
Weyland, from Denver, finished third in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss/Porsche of Bucks County 911 GT3 Cup car. Series veteran Weyland earned his first career podium finish.
"I haven't been on a podium ever, so this is a great day," Weyland said. "To have my team up here cheering for me - it feels great."
|Gold Cup and Gold Masters podium (from left): Jeff Mosing, Michael Levitas, David Ducote|
Levitas started third in the No. 35 TPC Racing Porsche but passed Mosing and David Ducote for the lead around the halfway point of the 45-minute race. He held off Ducote by 3.119 seconds for his Gold Cup-leading fifth victory of the season.
"What a weekend," Levitas said. "It had so much drama."
The victory also was Levitas' sixth in Gold Masters, which also led the class. But it wasn't enough to clinch the championship, as Mosing hung on to win, 236-235, over Levitas with his third-place finish that came despite an off-track excursion late in the race that ripped the front splitter from his Porsche.
"The car came in really good," Mosing said. "I was just being conservative what I was running, and my driver coach kept pumping me up and said I could go a little bit faster. I ended up getting a little too hot into Turn 10. I took the splitter off the front, and then at that point I didn't have any pressure in the back, so I was just going to finish out clean."
|Yokohama Hard Charger Award winner William Peluchiwski|
Ducote, from Houston, earned his sixth podium finish of the season in both Gold Cup and Gold Masters in the No. 6 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County entry.
William Peluchiwski, from Chicago, earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award in the No. 74 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County Gold Cup car. Peluchiwski started 25th and finished 12th.
Mikhail Goikhberg ended the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda championship season in the same place he started - atop the podium.
Goikhberg, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, won the season-ending Round 14 on Friday, Oct. 3 at Road Atlanta by beating Enzo Potolicchio to the finish by 1.533 seconds in a steady rain.
Series champion Goikhberg earned his ninth victory in 14 starts this season in the No. 10 JDC Motorsports entry. He started the season by winning five of the first six rounds, including both races at the season opener in March at Sebring International Raceway.
"Overall, it's a great way to end the season," Goikhberg said. "I really wanted to win at least one of the races here, and to do it in these conditions is a great feeling, especially since it's the last race of the season."
|Lites 1 podium finishers (from left): Enzo Potolicchio, Mikhail Goikhberg, John Falb|
Potolicchio, from Hollywood, Florida, earned his first podium finish of the season and also was the top Lites 1 Masters' finisher in the No. 4 8Star Motorsports Élan DP02 chassis powered by a Mazda engine.
Newly crowned Masters champion John Falb, from Las Vegas, finished third overall and was the second Masters' finisher in the No. 77 ONE Motorsports car. It was Falb's second overall podium finish of the season.
Todd Slusher, from Las Vegas, swept both rounds of Lites 2 competition this week with a victory in the No. 62 ONE Motorsports entry.
Goikhberg led from pole in moderate rain at the start of the race. But he spun off track in Turn 10 in the opening minutes under pressure from Madison Snow, handing the lead to Snow in the No. 29 Extreme Speed Motorsports car. Snow, 18, from Lehi, Utah, started sixth but moved up quickly with smooth driving in the wet.
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona driver Snow expanded his lead to 5.071 seconds with 25 minutes left in the 45-minute race and appeared poised for his first career victory in the series.
Goikhberg went off and on the track again between Turns 10 and 11, allowing Snow to build his lead to 8.160 seconds. But the field bunched during a full-course caution with 15 minutes remaining when two 16-year-old young stars - Thursday's winner Matt McMurry and Snow's younger brother, McKay Snow - made contact and ended up in the gravel while racing hard for position.
Then heartbreak arrived for Madison Snow. His car lost power on the ensuing restart with nine minutes remaining, and the field sped past. Snow's race was over.
Goikhberg took the lead and powered away for victory.
"It was a little bit hectic," Goikhberg said. "We had a big handling issue, so it was a very difficult race in terms of managing the car. I feel bad for Madison (Snow), having some kind of issue there. I would have liked to fight with him."
The race for the final two spots on the podium raged over the closing laps.
Andrew Novich, from Novato, Calif., was running second in the No. 61 Comprent Motor Sports entry after Snow's car stopped. But Falb and Potolicchio passed him for second and third, respectively. And then Potolicchio passed Falb for second with just two minutes remaining.
The runner-up finish by Potolicchio was one of the recoveries of the season. He was involved in a spin with two other cars, including his son, Christian, on a restart less than 10 minutes into the race. But he stayed calm and kept all four wheels on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit for the rest of the race to earn a hard-fought podium position.
"I'm looking forward to next year," Enzo Potolicchio said. "We are getting better and better with the car. We are learning the car very quickly, and I think we have the right setups now for every track."
JDC Motorsports ended the season as the Lites 1 Team Champions.
|Lites 1 Masters podium finishers (from left): John Falb, Enzo Potolicchio, Michal Chlumecky|
The smooth driving in wet conditions and late-race battle between Enzo Potolicchio and Falb resulted in two Lites 1 Masters competitors landing on the overall podium for the only time this season.
Falb punctuated the Masters championship he clinched Thursday with his second overall podium result and ninth Masters podium result of the season.
"We weren't sure if it was going to be wet," Falb said. "A dry line was forming, but it started to come down right at the beginning and it kept raining. But it ended up being a great race."
Michal Chlumecky, from Windsor, Ontario, finished third in Masters in the No. 31 Eurosport Racing entry. Series veteran Chlumecky ran a partial schedule this season, but he stood on the Masters podium after five of his 10 starts.
|Lites 2 podium finishers (from left): Brian Alder, Todd Slusher, Jerome Mee|
Lites 2 pole sitter Slusher earned his third victory of the season and eighth consecutive podium finish since joining the class in mid-July at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
But he didn't grab the lead until the final lap.
2014 Lites 2 champion Brian Alder led the class and was running fifth overall on the last lap when he made a mistake in Turn 7 in the No. 22 BAR1 Motorsports entry. That miscue allowed Slusher to take the lead, which he kept for the final five turns.
"My main competition, No. 22 (Brian Alder), got around me early in the race," Slusher said. "Kudos to him, great driver in the rain. But with one lap to go I found a little opening, and I went for it. It worked out all right. I passed him with one lap to go and got the checkered, so I'm pretty stoked."
Alder, from Marysville, Ohio, ended up second in class. He finished first or second in 13 of his 14 starts this season.
Jerome Mee, from Bellaire, Texas, finished third in the No. 95 Alta Velocita Racing entry for the second consecutive day.
BAR1 Motorsports ended the season as Lites 2 Team Champions.
Performance Tech Motorsports qualified ninth for the Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda after solid, steady laps from David Ostella in the Prototype Challenge class.
Team Principal Brent O'Neill decided to not participate in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship practice before qualifying due to heavy rain, with the team instead focusing on consistency - a key in a 10-hour race. Ostella made laps averaging a time around 1:17, landing him slightly more than one second behind pole sitter Jack Hawksworth.
"I think this just goes with what we've been doing by focusing on race setup," Ostella said. "It showed in qualifying. I would have like to have got a quicker lap in - I think some of that is from lack of track time. But at the end of the day, it's a 10-hour race so qualifying doesn't really matter, so I'm not worried."
Ostella and co-drivers Jerome Mee and James French received less time in the car before qualifying than hoped. Heavy rain earlier in the day led to the final practice session starting with a red flag. The session eventually was declared green, but O'Neill did not want to risk his drivers in the downpour.
"We have a good car out there," O'Neill said. "Would have liked the extra time in practice. It's a 10-hour race tomorrow, so you can qualify last and still end up on podium -- it makes no difference. We just want to come out and have a good car for the race tomorrow, and I think we do, so we'll see where we go tomorrow."
The 17th Annual Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda begins at 11:15 a.m. (ET) tomorrow Saturday, Oct. 4 at Road Atlanta. The race will be broadcast live starting at 11 a.m. on IMSA.com, with live coverage also at 3 p.m on FOX Sports 2. FOX Sports will televise a highlight show Sunday, Oct. 5. check local listings for details.