Maintains championship lead with just one more event remaining
Madison, Wisc. (14 August 2017) – It was another positive outing for Kelly-Moss Road and Race (KMR) driver Colin Thompson in the penultimate round of the 2017 IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda championship held at Trois-Rivieres over the weekend.
Despite never having visited the 1.52-mile, 10-turn street circuit before, Thompson was quickly up to speed in the No. 14 Ignite / Mattoni Water / Edoardo Borrelli / Ernst Kelly-Moss Road and Race Benz / Sherwin Williams / Replay XD Norma M30. He scored two second place results in Sunday’s double-header and maintains his leading margin in the championship heading into the final event at Road Atlanta.
It’s not often that KMR sees two races on the same day, which presented an extra challenge for the team – which returned to the Canadian circuit for the first time since 1994.
“The race format definitely made it challenging,” said Thompson. “When you normally approach a race weekend – having the races on separate days allows for a little wiggle room. It allows the team to easily prepare for the next day. But with only hours between the races it made for a much bigger challenge. I knew I had to keep the car 100% clean, so that we could even race in Race 2!”
A wide range of weather conditions during the weekend kept it even more daunting. The first practice ran under completely dry conditions, while the second practice saw the first half dry but the second half very wet. Qualifying also ran under wet conditions.
Just to keep things interesting, rain fell but stopped just prior to Race 1 on Sunday morning. Although the rain was no longer falling – the track remained wet and IMSA declared the event a wet race and all competitors started on the wet Continental rain tires.
Thompson opened the 45-minute event from the third position but was forced to work his way back up the order when he found himself the victim of contact from a fellow competitor after taking the race lead.
“I started third – and on the start I took the lead into Turn 1,” recalled Thompson. “Going into Turn 2, a car behind me essentially out-braked himself. He hit me and I spun around but I was able to get it back going and keep fighting back from there.”
While some cars ducked into the pit lane a few laps into the race for slick tires, KMR opted to keep Thompson out on the wet tires. Despite the challenging conditions of racing on a dry track with the wet tires, Thompson maneuvered his way back up to second where he finished the race.
“It was a really interesting race because three laps in, people started switching to slick tires,” offered Thompson. “Kenton (Koch, second in the championship) and I both stayed on wets the entire time and we were fighting for the win. Something that people don’t realize is that driving on wet tires on a dry track is just as slippery as driving in wet conditions on a slick tire. The wet tires overheat in the dry and by the end of the race there was really no grip.”
Sunday afternoon’s Race 2 brought much more pleasant racing conditions with bright and sunny skies around the circuit.
Thompson opened the race from fourth on the grid and had moved up to third when the first of two full course cautions was displayed. Upon the restart, Thompson improved to second in the running where he remained until the checkered flag. A late full course yellow saw the 45-minute event finish under the caution.
The two runner-up finishes see Thompson continue to lead the championship with 185 points – 18 points ahead of championship rival Kenton Koch – as the series heads into its final event at Road Atlanta in October.
“First I have to say that the Trois-Rivieres track was amazing,” said Thompson. “I had never been there before and it is such an iconic circuit to race. I was excited about going there and I was honestly impressed in every aspect. It is a beautiful area and the track is challenging, yet fun to race on. The whole weekend could not have been more different as far as the conditions. They were 50/50 as far as wet versus dry which made it really challenging – especially at a street circuit where it is so difficult to get the set up right and for me having never been there. Kenton (Koch) had a lot of experience at the circuit – so we were playing catch up as far as times go – but our pace was really, really good. Our main goal was all about championship points and we did our job and now we’re one weekend closer to locking up the championship title. Road Atlanta is one of my favorite tracks and it’s a place that Kelly-Moss is very strong. We’re leading the championship and we’re in a good situation heading into the final one.”
The season-finale IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda double-header event takes place October 4-7 at Road Atlanta.