Watkins Glen, N.Y. (1 July 2017) – It was yet another winning weekend for Kelly-Moss Road and Race (KMR) at Watkins Glen International as the team campaigned six cars in four races at the fabled Upstate New York circuit.
The Wisconsin-based squad fielded five entries in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama series while also campaigning the No. 14 Ignite / Mattoni Water / Edoardo Borrelli / Ernst Kelly-Moss Road and Race Benz / Sherwin Williams / Replay XD Norma M30 for Colin Thompson in Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda competition.
The team tallied two more victories on the season as Thompson broke through with the Norma to win his first Prototype Challenge race of the weekend, while Jake Eidson (No. 24 Kelly-Moss/Hurley Haywood Scholarship Porsche GT3 Cup) won his fourth Porsche GT3 Cup race of the year.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama
Kelly-Moss Road and Race was prepped for the double-header event for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. With both the Canadian and North American series staged to race together, 36 cars took the green for the weekend’s events.
Hurley Haywood Scholarship Porsche GT3 Cup winner Jake Eidson led the massive field through the green for Race 1 from pole position. After only completing one hot lap a significant crash forced a red flag. Ultimately the race was abandoned, and will be run at a later date.
On Saturday, tricky conditions greeted the racers for Race 2, but the green flag saw a dry line emerge through the laps. Eidson, who started on pole kept a handle on his car as he worked through ever-changing track conditions, taking the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama America championship win and coming home second overall.
KMR pilot Tom Haacker scored a Platinum Masters podium with a run to third in the No.
No. 80 Monster Vision Porsche GT3 Cup/Platinum, while his KMR teammates Fazekas (No. 52 Kelly-Moss Porsche GT3 Cup) finished eighth, while Greg Palmer came home in ninth.
“When it was wet [the race] was good,” said Eidson. “The first two starts, I had a great start. There are so many cars out there that the track started drying really quick and I don’t think we had the right car for when it started drying, so I was struggling with quite a lot of oversteer. After the track started drying, I was kind of hanging on. Scott (Hargrove) and Zach (Rubichon) got around me, but I let them have their own race and it’s still a good day for points and extending our championship lead. That’s the goal that we wanted to have when we came here and we achieved that, so I’m really happy.”
After a opening race that ended with significant damage for several competitors, the team was happy to see a clean Race 2 as the drivers showed well in challenging conditions.
“Somehow we managed to escape all of the carnage yesterday which is pretty amazing,” said team owner Jeff Stone. “Today we were close on the set up (with Jake Eidson) but not quite close enough. Jake did a great job driving. We talked on the radio about where our fight was and what was important and he followed the direction that I gave him. He gave 100%, the team gave 100% and we walked away with the win for the U.S. We are happy with what we walked away with and we are still leading the championship.”
Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda
Colin Thompson proved early in the weekend that his Norma chassis was a force to be reckoned with after putting his No. 14 Ignite / Mattoni Water / Edoardo Borrelli / Ernst Kelly-Moss Road and Race Benz / Sherwin Williams / Replay XD Norma M30 on the pole for Race 1 & 2 for the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda at Watkins Glen.
Race 1 saw Thompson make an instant break to the front of the pack at the drop of the green. Despite getting pressure for the lead through the full length of the race, Thompson kept the car out front to cross the line first after leading all 20 laps.
“Coming into this weekend we knew this was a track we were going to have to capitalize on where our strong points were,” said Thompson. “The track has a lot of high speed stuff and we knew that was our strong point on the Norma chassis, and Watkins Glen has always been a good track for me. We are up against the top manufacturer chassis in the world, Ligier, and up until this year, Norma is coming in hot. I think we are really starting to show what this car can do.”
As rain moved in early Saturday, the field of Prototype Challenge drivers opted for slicks for the start of Race 2. Starting from pole, Thompson was looking to make the most of the clear view, but soon lost traction in the soggy conditions, moving him to the back of the field. After assessing the damage, Thompson made a massive charge forward, pushing the limits all the way to the checkered flag to put himself back on the podium in third for the LMP3 class.
The victory marked the culmination of a huge effort that started in the days leading up to the season-opening race at Sebring in March. After showing speed on a range of tracks, the Norma was able to emerge with a debut victory at Watkins Glen.
“The PC side of things was great,” said team owner Jeff Stone. “Having come here with the Norma and walking away with two poles and winning the race yesterday. Unfortunately, the conditions were just diabolical. We lost traction on the start and then got collected by a lights car which did extensive damage to the car. Fortunately we managed a podium with a strong third place finish!”
It’s a quick turnaround of racing for the Kelly-Moss crew as they will head to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with the Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series next weekend, July 7th – 9th.