Prototype Challenge Watkins Glen International Saturday Notebook
Saturday, July 1, 2017

The winding ribbon of asphalt that weaves through Watkins Glen, New York has long been regarded as one of the most scenic, and challenging road courses in its 69 years of sports car racing history. Add in a little rain and the 11-turn, 3.4-mile surface of Watkins Glen International changes from challenging to downright difficult.

As the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda competitors made their way to the grid to complete the second round of racing Sunday, July 1, they were greeted by a steady drizzle that quickly set the stage for a very perplexing 45-minute sprint.

The race began under yellow-flag conditions due to poor visibility and Kenton Koch in the No. 8 entry for P1 Motorsports quickly began to drop back as the race clock started. Just two laps in, he was forced to pit to change out his Continental Tire slicks to rains to improve grip, which dropped him down the grid to 21st – providing him with strong motivation to move up through the field to get back into the championship hunt.

After several laps under caution to ensure track conditions had improved for green-flag racing, IMSA officials threw the flag on Lap 4, only to bring back the yellow as the No. 14 Norma M30 of Colin Thompson and Kelly-Moss Road and Race spun at the exit of Turn 11 and collected the MPC entry No. 22 of Don Yount, who jumped in the BAR1 Motorsports car for Brian Alder this weekend.

The incident moved LMP3 competitor Andres Gutierrez and his Performance Tech Motorsports team up to the lead position, followed by his MPC teammate Kyle Masson in the No. 18 Neurospine Institute entry to run in second place overall and first in class.

The prototype field marched in lockstep around the course under caution, battling visibility issues, a lack of grip and increasing frustration with the weather.

With only 10 minutes remaining in the race, conditions began to improve and the competitors saw the green flag for the second time on Lap 10. However, the No. 25 entry of Joel Janco and JDC Motorsports had an incident in Turn 1 – forcing the field back under caution for a quick cleanup.

With just one lap to go, the green flag made its third appearance and Gutierrez in his Ligier JS P3 claimed the overall victory and the LMP3 class win with Masson right in his mirrors to claim his highest overall series finish and first in class in his MPC Elan DP02. This was the highest MPC finish of the season as well.

James Dayson of CWR maintained a steady and consistent pace through the constant downpour to finish second on the LMP3 podium just ahead of Thompson, who “drove it like he stole it” to regain 12 positions to finish sixth overall and third in class.

And while Masson had recovered his winning streak, it appeared that Michal Chlumecky’s luck had also overturned. After a late-race spin in Friday’s competition pushed his No. 31 Eurosport entry out of podium contention, he regained his ground to make a last-lap pass on Kris Wright to move into second position in MPC and take the Masters Class victory.

Wright, who put his No. 7 JDC Motorports entry on the top step of the MPC Podium Friday, kept his sights firmly on Masson and maintained pace in the slick conditions to run the majority of the race in third position overall. After the last green flag, he surrendered to Chlumecky and was resigned to third in class.

Naj Husain, who is currently second in LMP3 Masters championship points, shuffled his No. 3 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry back and forth throughout the hampered race, at one point running as high as second overall, but he lost position after the second restart resulting in an eighth-place overall finish but first in the LMP3 Masters Championship – for drivers 45 years of age or older.

Paul D. Fix II who enjoyed the top step on the podium in Round 1 Friday, flip-flopped his results Saturday and wrapped up his day just behind Husain on the second step.

Following in Chlumecky’s wake in the MPC Masters Championship was Stuart Rettie of ODU Motorsports – taking his highest finish of the season in seventh overall and second in Masters.

Keeping his race weekend sweep consistent, Gary Gibson of Team Perfect Pedal once again claimed third place for his final weekend result.

Up next for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series are Rounds 7 and 8, which will take place July 7-9 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario as part of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix weekend.

Delayed television coverage of the IMSA Prototype Challenge Races at Watkins Glen International will be provided July 13, 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.

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