Versteeg Pads Lead with Fifth Victory of Season; JDC Streak Reaches 25
Sunday, July 10, 2016

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario (July 10, 2016) – Austin Versteeg returned to the top step of the podium while further cementing JDC Motorsports’ monopoly on that spot Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Versteeg, from Sandy, Utah, earned his fifth victory of the 2016 Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires season in the No. 7 JDC Motorsports entry. He beat teammate Clark Toppe by 1.441 seconds.

The victory extended one of the more remarkable streaks in North American sports car racing, as JDC Motorsports has won 25 consecutive Prototype Lites races dating back to August 2014.

“I can’t thank everyone involved in this program enough,” Versteeg said. “Not only did I have a good weekend, we had a really good team result, one-two both days, so a good points weekend for the team.”

Versteeg also increased his championship lead to 22 points with the victory. That was his gap entering Rounds 6 and 7 of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Official Development Series at CTMP. Toppe, from The Woodlands, Texas, won Round 6 Saturday with Versteeg second, so the weekend ended up as a points stalemate for the JDC duo.

Max Hanratty, from Milwaukee, finished third today in the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry for his third podium finish of the season. The strong result came a day after Hanratty’s 23rd birthday.

Series rookie Nathan Blok, from Pembroke, Ontario, finished fourth in just his second Prototype Lites start in the No. 43 Performance Tech Motorsports car. Michael Whelden, from Sausalito, California, rounded out the top five in the No. 29 Extreme Speed Motorsports Élan DP02 chassis powered by a Mazda engine and racing on Cooper Tires.

Joel Janco, from Key Largo, Florida, swept the Lites 1 Masters class with his second victory of the weekend in the No. 25 JDC Motorsports entry. Janco’s victories at this event were the first and second of his four-season career in the series.

Max De Angelis, from Windsor, Ontario, was the top finisher in the Lites 2 class in the No. 07 Eurosport Racing entry.

Versteeg started from the pole and never trailed in the 45-minute race. But three caution periods and their ensuing restarts added drama.

Second-year series driver Versteeg was flawless on all three restarts. Toppe applied pressure on the first two restarts, but Versteeg was able to parry him on the first lap under green around the 10-turn, 2.459-mile (3.957 km) circuit. Versteeg pulled away to a lead as large as 5.940 seconds shortly before the second caution period midway through the race.

The third and final caution period was triggered with 13 minutes remaining. Kyle Masson went wide at Turn 5 while running third in the No. 18 Performance Tech Motorsports entry and speared into the tire barrier. Masson was unhurt.

Versteeg pounced on the ensuing restart with five minutes, 40 seconds remaining. He poured on the power in the restart zone entering Turn 10 and drove away from Toppe and the field, leading by .855 of a second at the end of the first lap after the restart.

“We were having some troubles with shifting issues at Watkins Glen, but we definitely worked on restarts and just thought about them over the short break,” Versteeg said. “I think the restarts were the big key for this race, with three yellows.”

Toppe rallied to within .639 of a second on the next lap, but Versteeg then found another gear to pull away for the victory.

“It was definitely hard getting in a rhythm out there today, and starting second wasn’t ideal,” Toppe said. “It’s hard, especially with a very aero-dependent track like this, to start behind and try to catch up. Austin ran a hell of a race, a really good job to him.”

Lites 1 Masters

Janco completed a weekend to remember with his second victory of the event and of his Prototype Lites career.

He started second behind Michal Chlumecky but took the lead when Chlumecky’s car stopped in Turn 4 on the first green-flag lap of the race, which started under caution due to debris in Turn 5.

Janco also inherited the lead Saturday when Chlumecky’s No. 31 Eurosport Racing car stopped on track under caution with two minutes remaining, forcing the race to finish under caution.

But this race was different, as Janco still had 40 minutes of intense action following Chlumecky’s retirement. And Janco drove flawlessly, holding off Gary Gibson by .416 of a second at the finish.

“Today was a fabulous day in racing for me,” Janco said. “We got to the front on the first lap and never looked back. We ran consistent, fast laps, and nobody ever caught us. It was about as good as it could get for an old guy out there.”

Gibson, from Libertyville, Illinois, earned his first podium finish of the season in the No. 13 Team Perfect Pedal entry. Dave House, from Saratoga, California, finished third in the No. 86 ONE Motorsports car for his second career podium result and first since June 2015 at Watkins Glen.

Rounds 8 and 9 of the Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires are scheduled for Aug. 12-14 at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières (GP3R) in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

For more information about Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtags #MazdaLites and #MRT24 @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.

ROUND 7 POST-RACE QUOTES

AUSTIN VERSTEEG (No. 7 JDC Motorsports, winner): “We were having some troubles with shifting issues at Watkins Glen, but we definitely worked on restarts and just thought about them over the short break. I think the restarts were the big key for this race, with three yellows. So the restarts were really good, but I can’t thank everyone at JDC enough. They were at the track until 11:30, 12 o’clock last night. And I can’t thank those guys and my driver coach, Jonatan Jorge with JJRD, enough for the long hours they put in. Muscle Egg, Dep Patch, Papa Pita, LithoFlexo Graphics, can’t thank them all enough for coming on board this year and supporting me. Mazda has been amazing with their support of this series. They go to these tracks, and the crowds that come out are amazing. I’m surprised there wasn’t another yellow because there was a porcupine walking on the back stretch and just sitting there the whole time. Maybe that’s my good luck charm. I can’t thank everyone involved in this program enough. Not only did I have a good weekend, we had a really good team result, one-two both days, so a good points weekend for the team. And congratulations to my teammate Joel Janco, getting on the podium, maximum points all weekend so congrats to him, as well. I’m really looking forward to Trois-Rivières. I raced there in karting on the track right before the Grand Prix weekend, so hopefully I can get the same result there. But it will be tough. Clark (Toppe) is having a really a strong push, but I can’t wait to get back in the car.”

CLARK TOPPE (No. 10 JDC Motorsports, second): “It was definitely hard getting in a rhythm out there today, and starting second wasn’t ideal. It’s hard, especially with a very aero-dependent track like this, to start behind and try to catch up. Austin (Versteeg) ran a hell of a race, a really good job to him. It was great for the team, another one-two finish for JDC. They gave us both really good cars, and we ran away from the field, so it was great.”

MAX HANRATTY (No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports, third): “We missed a bit on the setup, but the guys at Extreme Speed Motorsports have been great all weekend. We’ve been trying a few different things, trying to develop the car. You make some gains, and you have some times where you’re going to struggle. To squeak out a podium with some of the struggles we’ve had this weekend is pretty incredible. Just another solid points finish for us. We’re going to just keep improving the car and the program and keep aiming for that top step in the future. I want to thank Synercomm, Secure Agile IT, Extreme Speed Motorsports and Tire Crew for everything. They’ve been incredible.”

JOEL JANCO (No. 25 JDC Motorsports, first, Lites 1 Masters): “Today was a fabulous day in racing for me. We got to the front on the first lap and never looked back. We ran consistent, fast laps, and nobody ever caught us. It was about as good as it could get for an old guy out there.”

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