Watkins Glen, N.Y. (2 July 2016) – Fielding six strong Porsches for Round 4 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Kelly-Moss Road and Race maintained its championship lead as the team completed a doubleheader at the historic Watkins Glen International road course in upstate New York.
Kelly-Moss Road and Race drivers Jesse Lazare (No. 21), Kurt Fazekas (No. 52), Bill Peluchiwski (No. 74), and Mike Hedlund (No. 77) took on Platinum Class competition while the father-son duo of Wayne Ducote (No. 71) and David Ducote (No. 6) represented Kelly-Moss in the Gold Class.
Attrition was the word of the day for Race 1 as the combined Porsche GT3 Cup USA and GT3 Cup Canada fields saw limited green flag running in the short 45-minute sprint. Lazare made it through to finish third with Hedlund fifth. Wayne Ducote hung on for fifth in Gold class competition.
Peluchiwski, David Ducote, and Fazekas were all taken out of contention due to contact. Peluchiwksi was taken out in the first turn by a driver that was later penalized for the contact. Following a restart, Fazekas sustained heavy damage in a crash that involved multiple cars. He was taken to a local hospital following the incident and diagnosed with multiple broken ribs.
Saturday’s race saw just one full course caution period and provided a better opportunity for the drivers to truly appreciate the newly repaved 3.4-mile Watkins Glen circuit.
Showing the strength of the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team was Peluchiwski, who charged back from the DNF in Friday’s race to score a Master’s Class podium finish of third on Sunday. The podium finish was a just reward after the team worked late into the night to repair his car in time for Saturday morning’s race event.
“It was a substantial difference from yesterday when I never made it past the first turn,” said Peluchiwski following the podium ceremonies. “Thanks to Kelly-Moss for getting my car together to be able to race today. I had really clean racing and a good battle between Dave Baker, myself and Jeff Mosing. It was a lot of fun and a great race today. This track is wonderful. I almost consider it a home track even though I’m not from New York. The new pavement is fabulous. It’s smooth and has better grip and it’s really enjoyable to race on.”
Lazare battled the busy field, looking for a repeat podium finish but his progress was halted when the race finished under yellow. He accepted a fourth place finish at the checkered flag with teammate Mike Hedlund not far behind in sixth.
“It was interesting because the track was changing a lot through the whole weekend,” said Lazare. “It was hard to find the right balance. Fortunately our car was set up well for the end. I was excited I was gaining on the two guys in front of me but unfortunately there was a full course yellow with three or four laps to go. That definitely hurt us a bit. But I had a great time. The new pavement at the track is great. Before, it was half concrete and half asphalt and now it’s just one piece of smooth pavement. It works well, it races well, so they did a great job. The team did great and I’m looking forward to the next one!”
“Coming back from Le Mans, it’s nice to be at a track I actually know,” said Hedlund, who raced in the ‘Road to Le Mans’ event at Circuit de la Sarthe two weeks ago in France. “I only got 16 laps there and very different conditions – mixed, dry, and wet. Kind of a little bit of everything and add in to that a new car and new team. It’s nice to get back here with Kelly-Moss. We were fast from the start. I’m lucky to get away in one piece. In Montreal my car got wrecked. I’m just excited because we had some good finishes with good pace, we stayed out of trouble and kept it on the track. I’m totally happy with how the weekend turned out. I feel bad for my buddy Kurt (Fazekas) who is in the hospital right now, but he’ll be okay, I saw him last night.”
In the Gold Class Wayne Ducote made the most of his green flag running, to move up through the pack to take fourth at the finish.
“We didn’t get much running on Friday,” said Ducote. “I had a decent start today and had a little contact in Turn 1. After that I just kept my nose clean and went from last to fourth. It was fun. I’m glad I was able to bring my car back without a scratch. I had a great car yesterday. Today I had a little push, and it was little iffy but then it went away by the end of the race. The new pavement is grippy and works well. I’m really happy with the result today.”
Team Principal Jeff Stone was pleased with the team’s efforts as the organization targets the 2016 championship title.
“The weekend at Watkins Glen wasn’t what we hoped for in some ways, and exactly what we hoped for in some ways,” offered Stone. “We’re back in the championship lead and we’re happy about that. But we just never had pace and we’re still trying to figure out why. We did find that we had a suspension component failure and a shock failure in the rear of the car. We replaced the struts and that improved the car dramatically. The on track mayhem on Friday was terrible and not only Kelly-Moss Road and Race, but the entire field was hurt by it. I’m glad to see (IMSA Race Director) Beaux Barfield stepping in to try to solve this situation. Thank you to Beaux. On the West Coast the guys are just killing it out there. We’re going to go into Road America ready to fight and win this thing.
“All of the team’s thoughts are with Kurt Fazekas after his incident yesterday. It’s a shame, but we know he’ll work hard to be back stronger than ever.”
Kelly-Moss Road and Race will next be in IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama competition August 4-7 at Road America.