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Koch Steals Pole for Round Three of Mazda MX-5 Cup at Mazda Raceway
Posted by: newsla on May 03, 2014 - 04:51 PM
Sports Cars
Koch Steals Pole for Round Three of Mazda MX-5 Cup at Mazda Raceway

Kenton Koch, of Glendora, California, waited until the proverbial 11th hour in qualifying to post the pole-winning lap for Round Three of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, part of the Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda. John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, will start today’s race from the second position, while Patrick Gallagher, of Thornville, Ohio, will roll off third.


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For a vast majority of the 30-minute qualifying session, Koch was in the second position, less than 0.1-second behind Dean. On the 12th of 13 laps he turned at the wheel of his No. 12 Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, Koch turned a lap of 1:42.096 (78.914 mph) around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course. That time was good enough to edge Dean out for the pole by 0.005-second.

“It wasn’t planned to set my fast lap in the closing minutes of the session,” Koch said. “I didn’t think I would be able to set a faster lap after the one I set on lap three.

“As the session wore on, the car got really tight. So, we made an adjustment which ended up going the wrong way. I came in and made a change in the other direction, which ended up being just enough to get the pole.”

It looked as through the No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5 of Dean had the field covered, and he did for most of the session. His 1:42.101 (78.910 mph) lap would prove just short of what was needed to secure the top starting position. However, taking to the lights for the customary standing start on the front row is an acceptable consolation for Dean.

“I was able to set a quick lap early on, but the car started to go away from me as the session wore on,” Dean said. “In the race, tire wear will be a huge determining factor in who wins.

“It is so important to be up front here. The passing zones here are very risky because they aren’t straight. As an example, you are turning through the braking zone into Turn Two. Minimizing the risk while trying to pass will be key.”

In the No. 28 MedBuild/Henry Schein/ModSpace MX-5, Gallagher seemingly came out of nowhere to capture the third position on the starting grid with a fast lap of 1:42.518 (78.589 mph). Gallagher had not fully exercised the demons he endured at Sebring through two practice sessions at Mazda Raceway, as fifth place was all the higher he had been able to reach through both practices.

“We struggled a little in Sebring and didn’t use sticker tires in practice,” Gallagher said. “We knew what we had and were able to go quick with new tires.

“I made a small mistake out there, so I think we can compete with the guys up front. Right now, I think we have one of the best racecars in the field. We may not have the sheer pace, but when you factor in the tire wear, I think we have a great chance at doing well.”

Ara Malkhassian, of Houston, was once again near the top of the time sheets. In his No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5, he turned a fast lap of 1:42.665 (78.476 mph). That time was good enough for the fourth-place staring position.

After setting the quickest time in Practice Two, Sebastian Landy, of Great Falls, Virginia, will start Round Three from the fifth position. Landy stopped the clock with a best lap of 1:42.804 (78.370 mph) in his No. 41 Excitatinos.com/Atlanta Motorsports Group MX-5.

Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California, took the pole position in the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge class with a fast lap of 1:43.572 (77.789 mph) in his No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5.

“You can’t do any better than pole position,” Kemper said. “Any further back and you really have to battle for position like I did at Sebring. I knew I needed to qualify in a better position if I wanted to end up with consistent podium finishes.”

Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, will start next to Kemper in the second starting position after turning a best lap of 1:43.892 (77.549 mph). Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, completed the top three after turning a lap of 1:44.161 (77.349 mph).

The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires takes to the track for Round Three of the season at 5:45 p.m. (PDT). Round Four is set for an 8:00 a.m. (PDT) start on Saturday.

Stay up to date with the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires by going to www.mx-5cup.com.

Starting lineup for Saturday's SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires Round Three race, part of the Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.

1, MX, (12), Kenton Koch(R), Glendora, Calif., MX-5, 1:42.096, 78.914.
2, MX, (16), John Dean II, Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 1:42.101, 78.910.
3, MX, (28), Patrick Gallagher, Thornville, Ohio, MX-5, 1:42.518, 78.589.
4, MX, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:42.665, 78.476.
5, MX, (41), Sebastian Landy, Great Falls, Va., MX-5, 1:42.804, 78.370.
6, MX, (35), Devin Jones(R), Mooresville, N.C., MX-5, 1:42.849, 78.336.
7, MX, (29), Joey Bickers(R), Moorpark, Calif., MX-5, 1:42.878, 78.314.
8, MX, (17), Lucas Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:43.157, 78.102.
9, MX, (6), Timothy Paul, Mahopac, N.Y., MX-5, 1:43.298, 77.995.
10, MX, (8), Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 1:43.312, 77.985.
11, MX, (26), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:43.443, 77.886.
12, MX, (20), Chris Haldeman(R), Princeton, Texas, MX-5, 1:43.565, 77.794.
13, MX, (19), Timothy Reger(R), Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:43.912, 77.534.
14, MX, (44), Steve Bottom, Newport Beach, Calif., MX-5, 1:44.028, 77.448.
15, MX, (10), Brent Mosing, Lafayette, La., MX-5, 1:44.277, 77.263.
16, MX, (27), Charles Paquin, Ottawa, Ontario, MX-5, 1:45.683, 76.235.
17, MX, (18), Joseph Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:46.672, 75.528.
18, MX, (34), Christian Szymczak, Palos Verdes, Calif., MX-5, no time.

1, SBMX, (99), Drake Kemper, Toluca Lake, Calif., SB MX-5, 1:43.572, 77.789.
2, SBMX, (93), Robby Foley, Randolph, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:43.892, 77.549.
3, SBMX, (61), Ben Albano, Greenwich, Conn., SB MX-5, 1:44.161, 77.349.
4, SBMX, (60), Zach Lee, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:44.272, 77.267.
5, SBMX, (63), Bryan Hixon, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:44.317, 77.233.
6, SBMX, (98), Lucas Bize, New York, N.Y., SB MX-5, 1:44.397, 77.174.
7, SBMX, (94), Sarah Montgomery, Lafayette, La., SB MX-5, 1:45.396, 76.443.
8, SBMX, (68), John Morton, Waukegan, Ill., SB MX-5, 1:46.439, 75.694.
9, SBMX, (65), Felix Borodaty, Short Hills, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:46.651, 75.543.
10, SBMX, (69), Chris Beaufait, Freeland, Wash., SB MX-5, 1:47.564, 74.902.

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