Prototype Challenge Road Atlanta Thursday Notebook
Thursday, October 5, 2017

Three years ago, the father and son combination of Robert and Kyle Masson made their racing debut at Road Atlanta in a Skip Barber Driving school. Little did they know that they would both find themselves back where it all started, together, on the top step of the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series podium in their respective car classes at the Motul Petit Le Mans in support of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

While the younger Masson has already clinched the MPC overall title earlier this season in his No. 18 Elan DP02 for Performance Tech Motorsports and the Neurospine Institute, he never backed off the pace in Thursday’s 45-minute sprint race, competing against, and cheering on his teammate and father, running in the No. 11 entry for the Global Microsurgical Center.

Both the junior and senior Massons took the MPC and MPC Masters victories Thursday respectively, completing their racing dreams and bring a fairy tale quality to their last event of the series season at such a prestigious event on the IMSA series calendar.

But it was another story in the hard fought LMP3 category, with the championship title remaining illusive until the series conclusion takes place on Friday morning with a second 45-minute race to decide who will take all in the LMP3 championship.

Kenton Koch carries high hopes, but realistic expectations despite a decisive victory in the category Thursday in the No. 8 Ligier JS P3 entry for P1 Motorsports. Koch piloted a steady race through yellow-flag riddled conditions to hold off his teammate Robby Foley in the No. 17 entry and class points leader Colin Thompson in the No. 14 Norma M30 for Kelly-Moss Road and Race. 

Koch’s victory tightened up the points gap, trailing behind Thompson by only 13 points heading into the final round of the season, giving Thompson a clear advantage as he attempts to capture his second IMSA series title. Thompson won the 2015 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Platinum cup title with Kelly-Moss, proving the combination to be successful in both GT and Prototype cars.

Rounding out the top-four in the category was driver Tony Ave, who jumped into the No. 44 Ave-Riley AR2 this weekend for Ave Motorsports/Stop Flex in place of series regular Paul D. Fix to push the heavier, but faster 5.0-liter, 420-horsepower V-8 powerplant around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course to secure the LMP3 Masters class victory, for drivers 45-years and older. It is the highest finish for the team thus far this season.

Ave was followed by the LMP3 Masters champion, Naj Husain, who already secured the title at the last race in Trois-Rivieres. Husain, in the No. 3 entry for Extreme Speed Motorsports/Cloudistics was the picture of consistency, starting and finishing the event from his sixth place starting position, and securing his second-place result in class.

Husain’s teammate and series newcomer, Lance Willsey of Chestnut Hill, Massachussets captured third place in just his first race in series competition in the No. 33 entry.

Despite Masson’s easy cruise to the finish line to secure his tenth victory of the season, the MPC entries that followed enjoyed a much livelier drive, with Kris Wright in the No. 7 entry for JDC Motorsports sailing under the checkers to take second place, ahead of his teammate Tazio Ottis in the No. 72 entry who was locked in a fierce battle with the No. 21 entry of Stuart Rettie for ODU Motorsports and Lion Rampant Group.

Ottis began the race with the advantage over Rettie, but the Master classman made an early jump on Lap 1 to capture third in MPC. But after two full-course caution periods that lasted three laps each, Ottis was able to tighten the gap and made a pass on Lap 9 to regain his advantage, and he never looked back thereafter, gaining one more position following the third final full-course caution of the race to finish third in class and eighth overall.

Rettie was looking ahead to an uncontested MPC Master’s victory, when R. Masson also used the last caution period to his advantage, and overtook Rettie on Lap 26, relegating Rettie to a second-place finish in his category.

One Motorsports returned for their third weekend of series competition with series regular Gerhard Watzinger behind the wheel of the No. 32 Elan DP02. The Naples, Florida resident tangled with R. Masson early on in the race, pushing for position, but ultimately encountered traffic and settled for third place in the MPC Masters class.

Friday morning’s final 45-minute sprint will determine championship winners in both the LMP3 class, as well as the MPC Masters category. The race will run at 9:25 am ET on Friday, culminating the inaugural LMP3 season.

Qualifying:

In the morning qualifying session, it was Koch who set the pace early, running a lap of one minute, 17.984 seconds by his third lap out to capture the LMP3 Pole and grab the extra point toward the championship standings.

It was déjà vu all over again for Masson, as he captured his 12th-consecutive pole position in MPC with a lap time of 1:20.929 set on his sixth lap around the technical course located in Braselton, Georgia.

Live timing, scoring and race coverage will be available on IMSA.tv, and a delayed broadcast of the races will be shown on FS2 Thursday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m. ET.  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 audio 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: 9:25-10:10 a.m., Friday, Oct. 6

Race Coverage: 

Live Streaming: The race will be livestreamed at IMSA.tv. 

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

Twitter: Live text commentary from all sessions at @IMSALive

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