Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Road America Friday Notebook
Friday, August 4, 2017

It seemed only fitting that the abandoned Round 7 race from Watkins Glen International would finally see the green flag today at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, under similarly challenging conditions.

Flags flailing in a cold, stiff breeze and a steady downfall of rain served as the backdrop of Friday’s 45-minute race for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama competitors. Using grid positions set in qualifying at Watkins Glen, the field marched around the 4.048-mile, 14-Turn road course that provides drivers and teams with plenty of challenge and action under perfect conditions, let alone an insistent drizzle that showed no hope of relenting and temperatures below 58 degrees.

Adding an incremental pace lap, and starting the race in single-file formation, set a cautious tone that minimized bolder passes and dramatic moves, keeping the action firmly in-check and studious.  

Pole-sitter Jake Eidson in the No. 24 Kelly-Moss Road and Race 911 GT3 Cup Platinum entry led the field flag-to-flag with the consistency of a metronome, taking the checkered flag and the victory in stride. But the dance card behind him ebbed and flowed, shifting throughout the sprint due to the slick track conditions.

Anthony Imperato in the No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms entry of Wright Motorsports started his race in second position, running lockstep and just a small gap behind Eidson and it seemed as though his day would end much the same way. But hard charging Tenton Estep in his No. 3 JDX Racing/Hertz entry had other ideas and swept by on the last lap to take second place overall and in class, as well as secure the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for the driver who advanced the most positions in Platinum.

Estep, who started in sixth position on the grid made immediate progress on the first lap to jump all the way to third place, edging by Texan Will Hardeman in the No. 19 Continental Automotive Group entry for Moorespeed and his teammate Corey Fergus in the No. 00 US LED/Byers Imports car, as well as Wright Motorsports/Snow Racing entry of McKay Snow in the No. 63.

Subsequent battles for fourth, fifth and sixth ensued, with Snow, Hardeman, Fergus and even the No. 49 entry of Sebastian Landy for Alex Job Racing and Forto Strong Coffee shifting positions in treacherous conditions with limited visibility. Hardeman and Fergus ultimately pulled off a team effort and took fourth and fifth overall and in class, respectively.

Not to be outdone by his younger teammate, Mark Kvamme in his No. 43 entry for JDX Racing kept his racecraft consistent and improved on his 14th starting position to run as high as 10th before settling back to finish in 11th overall and first in the Platinum Masters Championship, for drivers 45 years or older.

Kvamme was joined on the podium by friendly rival David Baker in the No. 56 TOPP Racing/Apex Capital Corp. entry finishing in second. Baker’s teammate Jeff Mosing, who is the third part of the Master’s puzzle, did not compete in Friday’s race.

In Gold Cup, for 911 GT3 Cup cars from years 2014 – 2016, Canadian Roman De Angelis continued to prove his dominance in his No. 78 entry for Bestline Auto/Mark Motors Racing, improving from his ninth-place starting position overall to run as high as seventh, before a brief wobble off track pushed him back to eighth. He secured the class victory, giving him his fifth win in just six starts in USA competition.

NGT Motorsport teammates Fred Kaimer and Victor Gomez IV swapped positions as Gomez, in his No. 25 Mapfre/Porsche Center of Puerto Rico entry encountered early trouble, with a spin early on, losing six positions and giving up the advantage to Kaimer in the No. 23 Race Deck car.

Gomez was able to battle back up through the field and not only regain his starting position, but improve upon it. However, it wasn’t enough to catch Kaimer, who finished in second place behind De Angelis, relegating Gomez to third.

The race was only marred by one full-course caution period on Lap 11 to retreive the No. 33 entry of CJ Wilson, who went off track in Turn 14 and got caught in the gravel. Wilson was able to continue his race and improve position after the restart. 

Qualifying:

While it seemed a bit odd to follow a race with a qualifying session, a respite from the rain and dry, sunny track conditions made the reversal welcome and competitors focused on speed for Friday afternoon’s 20-minute qualifying session.

It was Moorespeed’s Fergus who made his mark in Platinum qualifying. With on-site support from friends, family and sponsor Byer’s Imports, the Columbus, Ohio, native clocked the fastest lap around the longest road course on the series circuit of two minutes, 11.307 seconds to take the Platinum Pole on Lap 8.

In another twist, it was Snow who was hard on his heels, just a few tenths back with a lap of 2:11.624.

De Angelis captured the top spot for Gold, pushing his No. 78 hard enough to take a quick dive off course for a wild ride that put him back into the pits to monitor for any potential repairs. His time of 2:13.707 was valid and he maintains his pole position streak.

Results from Friday’s qualifying session will set the grids for the two regularly scheduled races this weekend.  

 For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visit www.imsa.com, and follow hashtags #GT3USA and @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook. 

Schedule (all times ET):

Race 1 (45 minutes): 12:30 - 1:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5

Race 2 (45 minutes): 10:40 - 11:25 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 6

Race Coverage:

Live timing: All on-track sessions at scoring.imsa.com and on the official IMSA app for iOS, Android and Windows

Live streaming: All on-track sessions will be broadcast on imsa.tv

TV: Delayed television coverage will be provided on major network affiliates in numerous U.S. markets by Sinclair Broadcast Group Aug. 19, and the broadcast will be available on YouTube 24 hours after it airs on television.

Twitter: Live text commentary from all sessions at @IMSAlive

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