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Jun 28, 2014 - 07:18 AM
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Thompson Earns First Career Win With Dramatic Pass At Watkins Glen
Posted by: newsla on Jun 28, 2014 - 07:17 AM
Sports Cars
Thompson Earns First Career Win With Dramatic Pass At Watkins Glen


Colin Thompson earned his first career Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama victory in wild fashion Friday at Watkins Glen International, passing championship rival Angel Benitez Jr. in the final turn.

 

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Thompson, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, held off Benitez by .108 of a second at the finish in the No. 14 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County 911 GT3 Cup car. He worked lapped traffic perfectly over the closing laps to pass Michael Lewis and catch Benitez, trimming a gap of 4.797 seconds to Benitez with less than five minutes remaining in the 45-minute race.

"If you would have told me I was going to win the race with six laps to go, I would never believe you," Thompson said. "But I was able to make a pass on Michael that didn't slow us up, and we were wicked good getting through lapped traffic. When I got to Angel, going into the first corner of the last lap, it was a battle to get by him and we were able to sneak by him on the last corner of the last lap.

Platinum Masters Watkins Glen 1
Platinum Masters podium (from left): David Williams, Kasey Kuhlman, Javier Quiros
"All I knew is I wanted that first place and put it in there and stuck it, and we got the win."

Lewis placed third in the No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian entry, just .355 of a second behind Thompson in a fantastic finish in Round 6 of the season.

The final lap was a breathtaking duel between Benitez and Thompson, with their dramatic dicing through lapped traffic to add another twist.

Benitez, from Valencia, Venezuela, led Thompson by .113 of a second in the No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport Porsche at the white flag. Both cars snaked around the 11-turn, 3.4-mile circuit in tandem on the final lap. Benitez came up on the lapped car of Seth Davidow - Thompson's Kelly Moss Motorsports teammate -- in the famous "Boot" section of the circuit, with less just four turns remaining in the race.

Gold Watkins Glen 1
Gold Cup podium (from left): Jeff Mosing, Michael Levitas, Kristin Treager
Davidow made his car wide, letting Thompson get a critical run exiting the penultimate corner of the circuit, a left-hander. Then Benitez and Thompson split Davidow's lapped car entering the final corner, a right-hander, with Benitez on the outside and Thompson on the inside.

Thompson dove hard for the curbing in the corner and made his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup stick at the apex, powering out of the corner and driving to the checkered for a thrilling first victory. International Motor Sports Association officials penalized Davidow 30 seconds after the race for blocking.

"We had a good car, an incredible car," said Benitez, who drives for the only single-car team in the Platinum Cup division. "The guys from Formula Motorsport and Avid Motorsports did a great job setting up the car. We were the fastest, and we were away from the pack. And suddenly other teams with more cars were putting their cars in front of me just to block me. He (Thompson) passed me in the last turn, and it's not cool at all that teams do that. We are all here trying to do our best to improve. They shouldn't win like that. I want to say thank you to IMSA for doing this, and I know they will do the best to resolve it."

Thompson took the championship lead by two points, 96-94, over Benitez with the victory. He and Benitez entered this event tied atop the standings with 76 points.

Gold Masters Watkins Glen 1
Gold Masters podium (from left): Jeff Mosing, Michael Levitas, Melanie Snow
Kasey Kuhlman, from Cincinnati, finished fourth overall and was the first Platinum Masters (age 45 and older) finisher in the No. 15 Wright Motorsports entry. Christina Nielsen, from Aarhus, Denmark, rounded out the top five in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport Porsche.

Javier Quiros finished second in the Platinum Masters in the No. 27 NGT Motorsport entry, with David Williams rounding out the Platinum Masters podium in the No. 37 TPC Racing 911 GT3 Cup car.

Masters driver Michael Levitas was the top Gold Cup (2010-2013 model cars) finisher in the No. 35 TPC Racing entry. Joining Levitas on the Gold Cup podium were runner-up and fellow Masters driver Jeff Mosing in the No. 01 Topp Racing entry and Kristin Treager in the No. 52 Wright Motorsports Porsche.

2009 Gold Cup season champion Melanie Snow was the third driver on the Gold Masters podium in her season debut in the No. 57 Wright Motorsports Porsche.

Mark Bullitt earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award after climbing to ninth after starting 14th in his No. 26 NGT Motorsport Porsche.

Round 7 of the season, another 45-minute race, will start at 6:45 p.m. (ET) Saturday.

For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visit www.gt3cupchallengeusa.com, follow hashtag #GT3USA @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook. For live updates of on-track action during the season, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.

VIEW: Round 6 Results

ROUND 6 POST-RACE QUOTES:

COLIN THOMPSON (No. 14 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County, winner): "I had a killer start; we gained a position going into (Turn) 1. And then I was following Kasey (Kuhlman) for about four or five laps before I was able to sneak by him. Those two passes were pretty easy, and from then on out it was just a grind to catch the other two. It was a stalemate between myself and Michael (Lewis) and Angel (Benitez). We all had a pretty even gap. You catch a little, you fall a little, you catch a little, you fall a little. I could see their cars and see they were falling off the pace a little. If you would have told me I was going to win the race with six laps to go, I would never believe you. But I was able to make a pass on Michael that didn't slow us up, and we were wicked good getting through lapped traffic. When I got to Angel, going into the first corner of the last lap, it was a battle to get by him, and we were able to sneak by him on the last corner of the last lap. All I knew is I wanted that first place and put it in there and stuck it, and we got the win."

ANGEL BENITEZ JR. (No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport, second): "We had a good car, an incredible car. The guys from Formula Motorsport and Avid Motorsports did a great job setting up the car. And you know the race was normal. We were the fastest, and we were away from the pack. And suddenly other teams with more cars were putting their cars in front of me just to block me. And then I get hit by the other car from the team that was blocking me, and he did everything. He (Colin Thompson) passed me in the last turn, and it's not cool at all that teams do that. We are all here trying to do our best to improve. They shouldn't win like that. So that's all I want to say. I want to say thank you to IMSA for doing this, and I know they will do the best to resolve it."

MICHAEL LEWIS (No. 98 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian, third): "I saw (Angel) Benitez pushing it pretty hard and even though I wasn't pushing as hard as him, I was starting to pull away from the guys behind me. So I decided at that moment to play the game of let's save the tires and see how it plays out in the end. And it's hard to do that because you're thinking, 'Is it really going to play out?' Then with about 10 laps to go, I started to catch more and more traffic. And it was cool to go around them, but at the same time when you're going for the win, it's a little bit annoying. But everyone was dealing with it. With about six to go, I was being a little more timid than the guys behind me. Colin (Thompson) was being pretty risky, but he was able to get some good traffic, and he got me with luck and placing his car well. Both of us started to catch Benitez. He was running slower in the end, whether it was tires or traffic or whatever. With two to go, it was just an all-out brawl to see who would win the race. It was interesting to see the two different strategies. I'm happy with third. It's points and a trophy. It's cool to be able to bring this back to the team because these guys hauled my gear six days to get to New York, so it's great to bring back what I can for them, too."

KASEY KUHLMAN (No. 15 Wright Motorsports, first, Platinum Masters): "It was my first start on the first row since 2011, so I was very excited. I had a good car. I lost my helmet cooler right at the start of the race, and the heat just got to me. Fatigue, I think, cost me an (overall) podium spot. It was a good run. Didn't make a lot of mistakes but just a little slower than the rest of the group. I'm happy with the day overall."

JAVIER QUIROS (No. 27 NGT Motorsport, second, Platinum Masters): "At the beginning, I tried to keep up with the big bunch of guys, but I don't know - something happened to me. My brake or something got stuck, and everyone started passing me. In about the eighth lap, I thought to myself, 'OK, Javier, you can either stop in the pits and drink water or start to move. So I decided to start moving. And I did, but it was little too late. I picked up quite a few places and was able to get second in the class, but tomorrow I want the win."

DAVID WILLIAMS (No. 37 TPC Racing, third, Platinum Masters): "It was a great race. A decent start. There was a lot of battling back and forth out there. It was hot out there, but I was able to make a pass on the last lap to get me to third, and then I just had to bring it home. It was a little dicey there at the end, but overall it was fantastic day."

MICHAEL LEVITAS (No. 35 TPC Racing, first, Gold Cup, Gold Masters): "It's just flippin' fantastic. It was a great race. That was just a classic race from top to bottom, where if I wasn't good at the start, it was done. It was tough. It was just a great race. This is how races should be. Great competition, great series. IMSA just did a fantastic job, and the competitors are awesome. But I'll tell you when I get home I'm getting Yokohama tires for my Porsche. My car was so tight on the start. I was grinding my front left tire so hard. I had such confidence with those tires. Yokohama, great tires."

JEFF MOSING (No. 01 Topp Racing, second, Gold Cup, Gold Masters): "As par for the course, it seems to be mayhem in the first lap of the race. Everyone's getting antsy, and I had to avoid a couple of cars that came together in the Esses. Then in the Bus Stop, I ran into three more doing their dance in there. So once we got clear of all of that, it took the pressure off the back of me, and I could just focus on what was ahead rather than what was behind. I started making up ground, just not soon enough. A great race."

KRISTIN TREAGER (No. 52 Wright Motorsports, third, Gold Cup): "That was a hard race. I got lucky on the start and saw a gap, and after I got past start-finish line, I was good, saw the gap and squeezed by way through. There was a little contact in the Esses, but I was able to get through that, which was great, because I was able to gain a few positions. And then I basically just had to work my booty off to keep the people behind me, behind me. I kept looking in my mirrors, and they would be gaining on me. On the radio they kept telling me I needed to push it more, and then I would ease off to save my tires and then they would catch me again. Tire management and not getting too crazy to go off track or spin out were the keys. It was hard physically because it was so hot, and it was hard mentally because it was a lot of back and forth with the people behind me."

MELANIE SNOW (No. 57 Wright Motorsports, third, Gold Masters): "I had a really bad start, so I was trying to make it back up. There was a car off in just about every turn on that first lap, so if you could avoid the mayhem it was good. I just tried to get my head back together and get back in the groove after all the weaving and swerving. And then I just picked it up. I think I overdrove a little in the beginning and wore my tires down, so I had to let them rest. I was hoping to catch chase Kristin (Treager) and (Patrick-Otto) Madsen down in the end, and I just wasn't able to do it. It was my own fault. I pushed too hard in the beginning and had some quick laps, but it was so fun to be back in the car again and so great to be back here. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little better for me."

MARK BULLITT (No. 26 NGT Motorsport, Yokohama Hard Charger Award winner): "It was very good. The car was great, and the track is amazing. We didn't have a lot of traffic to deal with, so we could make up a lot of spots step by step. It was very consistent, just good times."

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama

The IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama enters its 10th season in North America as the one of Porsche's largest single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. The series produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in one of the world's most successful and iconic race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Racing is divided into two classes - Platinum Cup, featuring the new 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based in on the current seventh generation of the street car, and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous version (2010-2013) of the race car. The series is the perfect platform for aspiring drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The series races at classic American road courses, providing thrills for drivers and fans.


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