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Koch Dominates Mazda MX-5 Cup Opening Race At Houston
Posted by: newsla on Jun 29, 2014 - 06:55 AM
Sports Cars
Koch Dominates Mazda MX-5 Cup Opening Race At Houston

Kenton Koch, of Glendora, California, put on a clinic en route to his win in Round Five of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires. John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, finished second, followed by his Sick Sideways Racing teammate Nathanial Sparks, of Spanish Fort, Alabama.


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In his No. 12 ALARA Racing/Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, Koch made it look like an effortless victory as finished the race with a 23-second lead. However, it was anything but easy.

Hot and humid conditions in the city that sits on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico created difficult conditions. The exhaustion could be seen on the faces of each driver as they climbed from their racing machines. The podium finishers, while standing in a sweat-drenched driver suit, were barely able to bring forth a smile for the victory circle photos.

“The car was great,” Koch said. “The car was handling so good that I barely felt like I was exerting any energy, but the heat really gets to you. There’s no breeze coming into the car, even though it’s an open cockpit, because the windshield just blocks it all. The air just gets deflected around you, and with these conditions it took a toll on me.”

While finishing second, Dean’s No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5 sustained damage as a result of the uneven surface of the street circuit. The damage forced him to keep from driving his car at the absolute limit.

“This track is just brutal,” Dean said. “By the second or third lap, the brake master cylinder went bad. I had to put my foot to the floor just to get the car to slowed down. It didn’t matter how early I braked, it just wasn’t going to slow the car down.

“It was a tough one and it makes me extremely happy to be on the podium with my teammate, Nathanial Sparks. This weekend is more about managing the Championship, and less about keeping the point lead. We just need to get to Canada in one piece.”

Driving the No. 8 OOTSK Performance/Bimmerworld MX-5, Sparks completed the podium after starting in the ninth position. Consistent laps and patience were the two things that helped Sparks get to the front.

“Starting ninth, I knew I was going to have to play a waiting game,” Sparks said. “I stayed back, followed the pack and tried to make smart moves. On lap 23, a five other guys got bunched up going into turn three and I was able to pass four cars in the span of 100 feet. Once I got around them, I was able to stretch my legs and get out in front of them.

“During the lap on which I made the move, there were guys that went three wide going through the Turn Two chicane. I knew something bad could happen, so I laid back a bit. I got on the brakes early, and then was able to get back on the throttle. I just punched it and was able to go blasting past them. I got lucky and took advantage of the situation.”

Joey Bickers, of Moorpark, California, brought his No. 29 Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5 home in fourth. On lap 24, Bickers was able to make an outside pass by Lucas Catania stick as the two battled for position heading around the NRG Astro Dome.

Catania, of Cazenovia, New York, completed the top five positions. Starting from the inside of the third row, Catania nailed the standing start in his No. 17 Atlanta Motorsports Group/NY Spine & Wellness/SOS MX-5. Catania was able to pick up two positions before getting to the turn two chicane. However, by the start of lap two Patrick Gallagher had gotten back to third place, before dropping out of the race after making light contact with the concrete barrier just past Turn 9.

In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California, led the class from beginning to end. Driving the No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5, he made the most of his prime starting position, which allowed him to put some room between himself and second place.

“I couldn’t be more relieved,” Kemper said. “We had a great race without any serious incidents with evenly-spaced yellow flags. I was able to group up with a couple Cup cars and ran away.

“This was the first time I raced on sticker tires. It took a little getting used to, but it was easily manageable.”

Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, drove to a second-place finish at the controls of his No. 61 Project Yellow Light SBMX-5. Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, completed the podium, holding the position from beginning to end.

Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires is slated to take place on Sunday, at noon (CDT).

Stay up to date with the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires by going to www.mx-5cup.com. Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/MazdaMX5Cup and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @MazdaMX5Cup.

HOUSTON, TX - Results from Saturday's 29-lap, 47.386-mile SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires Round Five race, part of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).

1. MX, (1), Kenton Koch(R), Glendora, Calif., MX-5, 29.
2. MX, (2), John Dean II, Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 29, -23.158.
3. MX, (9), Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 29, -53.929.
4. MX, (4), Joey Bickers(R), Moorpark, Calif., MX-5, 29, -54.979.
5. MX, (5), Lucas Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 29, -55.637.
6. MX, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 29, -59.589.
7. MX, (6), Sebastian Landy, Great Falls, Va., MX-5, 29, -1:00.841.
8. MX, (10), Timothy Reger(R), Houston, Texas, MX-5, 29, -1:01.574.
9. MX, (17), Devin Jones(R), Mooresville, N.C., MX-5, 29, -1:07.737.
10. MX, (15), Joseph Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 28, -1 lap.
11. MX, (16), Christian Tetzlaff, Athens, Ga., MX-5, 28, -1 lap.
12. MX, (18), Spencer Patterson(R), Pittsburgh, Pa., MX-5, 28, -1 lap.
13. MX, (14), Brandon Kidd, Manlius, N.Y., MX-5, 28, -1 lap.
14. MX, (8), Michael Cooper, Syossett, N.Y., MX-5, 17, Mech.
15. MX, (3), Patrick Gallagher, Thornville, Ohio, MX-5, 10, Mech.
16. MX, (13), Austin Snader(R), Brookshire, Texas, MX-5, 10, Mech.
17. MX, (12), Chris Haldeman(R), Princeton, Texas, MX-5, 5, Mech.
18. MX, (7), Timothy Paul(R), Mahopac, N.Y., MX-5, 1, Mech.

1. SBMX, (19), Drake Kemper, Toluca Lake, Calif., SB MX-5, 29.
2. SBMX, (20), Ben Albano, Greenwich, Conn., SB MX-5, 29, -2.724.
3. SBMX, (21), Robby Foley, Randolph, N.J., SB MX-5, 28, -1 lap.
4. SBMX, (22), Bryan Hixon, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 28, -1 lap.
5. SBMX, (23), Sarah Montgomery, Lafayette, La., SB MX-5, 28, -1 lap.
6. SBMX, (24), Zach Lee, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 28, -1 lap.
7. SBMX, (25), Felix Borodaty, Short Hills, N.J., SB MX-5, 27, -2 lap.

Time of race: 40 minutes, 19.267 seconds.
Average speed: 70.513 mph
Margin of victory: 23.158 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-29, #12 Kenton Koch(R)
Fastest race lap: #12 Kenton Koch(R), 1:22.549 (71.259 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #12 Kenton Koch(R), 1:22.536 (71.270 mph)

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