Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Road Atlanta Thursday Notebook
Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series began winding up its 16-round season this weekend at Road Atlanta, in support of the 20th Motul Petit Le Mans headlined by the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Platinum Masters and Gold Cup championships were still on the line, while Jake Eidson of Kelly-Moss Road and Race entered the weekend having already clinched the Platinum Cup title after Round 14 at Sonoma Raceway.

As he’s done on several occasions this season, Eidson captured another flag-to-flag win, increasing his Platinum Cup win count to eight this year. The 2017 Champion left the battles behind him in the field while cruising to victory. With championship positions tight in the Platinum Cup category, hard side-by-side racing ensued from the drop of the green flag.

In a fight for fourth position with the No. 3 of Trenton Estep and JDX Racing/Hertz on Lap 2, the No. 19 of Will Hardeman and Moorespeed/Continental Automotive Group found itself off the main straightaway and into the grass. A determined Hardeman kept the pedal down and held on to his Porsche GT3 Cup car in the grass the entire length of the front straight, getting back on course in Turn 1, but not before losing several positions. The off-course excursion ultimately led to Hardeman’s early retirement.

McKay Snow, who topped the initial practice charts, showed similar speed again in the No. 63 of Wright Motorsports/Snow Racing. Snow immediately jumped into the second spot at the start and held on to it throughout the race, while consistently challenging Eidson for position, to earn a second-place finish in his Platinum Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry.  

Corey Fergus swapped spots with Snow at the start in his No. 00 Moorespeed/US LED/Byers Imports car, dropping to third from his second-place starting position. Fergus found himself in a race-long battle with Estep, but managed to hold him off as the race played out and grabbed third place and the final step on the podium.

The Platinum Masters points leader, David Baker, ran off track briefly in Turn 1 on Lap 2 to avoid Hardeman’s re-entry to the circuit. Baker lost several positions in his No. 56 TOPP Racing/Apex Capital Corporation car, but kept his head down through the remainder of the race gaining ground as the race progressed. Baker made a late-race pass on Mark Kvamme’s No. 43 JDX Racing entry for the class lead to win Platinum Masters and clinch the class championship with only one race remaining.

The tightest battle coming into the weekend was in the Gold Cup class, where the top three drivers in points all were in contention for the category championship. Only eight points separated the trio at the race start.

The 2017 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Gold Cup Champion, Roman De Angelis, was only six points out of first in the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing entry. The sixteen-year-old may have been taken out of contention for a second series crown after hard contact with Andrew Longe’s Wright Motorsports/Trianon Hotels car. De Angelis slowed to a stop and his day was over after only two laps, leaving him with a 10th-place finish in Gold and a serious deficit in points.

Series veteran David Ducote returned to competition for the second time this season and was immediately quick in practice and qualifying. Showing no signs of loss of race craft, Ducote pushed his No. 6 for Kelly-Moss Road and Race, sponsored by Vulcan, swiftly through the field of newer Platinum Cup cars to capture his second win and third podium of the season in just three races. His performance was good enough for sixth overall in the 19-car event.

A series of restarts after three caution periods in the race gave Puerto Rico’s Victor Gomez IV the opportunity he needed to improve his position in the Gold Cup standings in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport/Mapfre/Porsche Center of Puerto Rico car. His second-place finish in Gold also moved him into second place in the points battle, only four behind leader Fred Kaimer in the No. 23 NGT Motorsport/Race Deck entry. Kaimer finished fourth in class in the 25-lap event.

For each race weekend and for the season, the Yokohama Hard Charger Award is presented in Platinum Cup and Gold Cup for the drivers overtaking the most positions on track. Kvamme grabbed the honors in Platinum Cup Thursday for improving the most positions in his class. The Gold Cup drivers will get their shot at Hard Charger accolades in Race 2.

Qualifying

The 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Champion, Jake Eidson, was in championship form in the qualifying session, posting the fastest lap for the field of one minute, 23.673 seconds in the No. 24 of Kelly-Moss Road and Race Platinum Cup car. Trenton Estep held the top spot briefly in the No. 3 JDX Racing/Hertz car before Eidson clipped his time to take the pole for Race 1 of the weekend.

Hot on the heels of Eidson, Corey Fergus, from the Moorespeed/US LED/Byers Imports team, posted the second-fastest time of the day of 1:23.709 in his No. 00 Porsche GT3 Cup car. Fergus was second in points coming into the weekend.

David Baker was the fastest Platinum Masters qualifier with a time of 1:25.627 in his No. 56 TOPP Racing/Apex Capital Corporation entry, good enough for 10th overall. Baker showed up at Road Atlanta with a 20-point lead in his class championship and looking to clinch early.

Roman De Angelis picked up his 13th Gold Cup pole for the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing team with a time of 1:25.214, good enough for eighth position overall. He entered the weekend trailing Fred Kaimer of NGT Motorsport/Race Deck by just six points in the Gold Cup championship.

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. Live streaming from both races will air on IMSA.tv.

Schedule (All Times ET):

Race 2: 10:35-11:20 a.m., Friday, Oct. 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 Oct. 28, 2017, 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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