Prototype Challenge Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Saturday Notebook
Saturday, July 8, 2017

At the halfway mark in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series schedule, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is the perfect facility to shake up results and set the stage for narrowing points gaps and tightening up championship hopes for series contenders.

The 3.957-km (2.459-mi), 10-Turn road course located just North of Bowmanville, Ontario has provided a challenge to all classes of sportscar racing since it opened in 1961. The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix has proved to be no exception as the Prototype Challenge competitors enjoyed a spirited battle in Saturday’s first race of weekend competition in conjunction with the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Despite an initial full-course caution on the first lap for multiple-car contact, it was Kenton Koch in his P1 Motorsports No. 8 Ligier JS P3 entry that had a perfect race, leading flag-to-flag to take the LMP3 victory, edging out Colin Thompson who kept his No. 14 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Norma M30 firmly in Koch’s mirrors throughout the 45-minute sprint.

The two LMP3 contenders have been battling for top championship honors in lockstep throughout the first half of the season, setting the stage for what undoubtedly will be an amazing drive to the series finale.

Thompson provided Koch a continual challenge, reeling him in and shortening the gap until another full-course caution was issued on Lap 14 as the No. 13 of Gary Gibson and Team Perfect Pedal had light contact with the tire barrier in Turn 5. The yellow brought the field back together and as the field went back to green on Lap 16, Thompson was on a mission. He continued to push throughout the last 10 minutes of competition, setting the fastest lap of the race at one minute,15.187 seconds as the white flag dropped, but it was just not enough to catch Koch, relegating Thompson to the second tier of the podium.

LMP3 Masters contender Naj Husain enjoyed his first race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as he brought his electric green and black No. 3 entry for Extreme Speed Motorsports across the finish line in third place in LMP3 competition and first in class.

Husain was followed by series newcomer Michael Watt who finished second in Masters in the No. 2 ASC Motorsports entry – his first time running with the series. This is also Watt’s first foray into Prototype racing, coming from two seasons in Ferrari Challenge.

Paul Fix, in the No. 44 Ave Motorsports Ave-Riley AR2 chassis suffered a rough start, getting caught up in a first-lap kerfuffle that forced his early retirement from the race and put him in third on the Masters podium.

It came as no surprise to anyone however that Kyle Masson continued to demonstrate speed in his No. 18 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02 Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entry. He once again led the class flag-to-flag, taking a page out of Koch’s racing handbook and the class victory, as well as finishing third overall.

Masson maintained a huge gap throughout most of the event, running as high as 15 seconds ahead of the closest competition, Michal Chlumecky in the No. 31 Eurosport entry. Chlumecky was holding out for redemption from a disappointing finish last weekend at Watkins Glen International and kept his Elan DP02 on cruise control while focusing on his racecraft to put him in second place on the MPC podium and first in class for MPC Masters.

Eurosport teammate and fellow Masters Classman Jon Brownson took the third step of the overall podium in his No. 34 MPC entry, and second in the Masters category. Proving that age and experience can keep pace with youth and exuberance.

And speaking of age and experience, Robert Masson, also known as Kyle’s father and teammate, ran an excellent race and moved up two positions from his initial start to put his No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports entry on the third step of the podium in Masters competition.

Qualifying:

In the ever-changing, on-track battle between Thompson and Koch, it was Koch who put his Ligier JS P3 car on Pole for race one. He dominated the session out of the box, clocking his fastest lap time of 1:13.562 on Lap 4 of the short 20-minute session.

Thompson was not far behind with a lap of 1:14.304 despite suffering some damage in an incident in afternoon practice Friday.

Masson captured his seventh series pole in seven rounds of competition thus far in the MPC category. He powered his Elan DP02 to third overall on the starting grid with a hot lap of 1:15.283, once again proving the former Lites 1 chassis are fully capable of mixing it up with the LMP3 cars.

Race Coverage:

Race two in weekend competition will take place Sunday, July 9, at 9:30 a.m. It will be streamed live on IMSA.tv. Live timing and scoring will be available on IMSA.com.

Delayed television coverage of the IMSA Prototype Challenge races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as part of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix in conjunction with the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be provided July 27, 2017, at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports 2 (FS2). The broadcast will also be available on YouTube 24 hours after it airs on television.

For more information on all IMSA competition - or to access IMSA Radio, which will have live streaming of both races - visit IMSA.com.

For more information about the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #IMSAPC @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.

Schedule (all times ET):

Race 2: 9:30-10:15 a.m. Sunday, July 9

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