Colin Thompson came out of the Monterey GP with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge point lead.
MONTEREY, Calif. (May 6, 2014) – Colin Thompson took over the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama point lead at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the strength of a sixth and second-place finish in his No. 14 Porsche of Bucks County Porsche 911 GT3 Cup prepared by Kelly Moss Motorsports.
Eager to capitalize on his strong performance in the opening rounds at Sebring International Raceway, Thompson hit the ground running at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by posting the fastest lap in practice. He had hoped to convert his quick practice times into a pole position, but in the ultra-tight GT3 Cup field, Thompson’s best qualifying effort on Saturday put him P5 on the grid for Sunday’s Round Three race.
Round Three got off to a strong start for Thompson, who held onto his fifth-place early, but took advantage of a restart to move into the top three. Only a couple turns later, however, the No. 14 dropped two wheels into the sand trap, nearly pulling Thompson all the way into wall, but the young driver saved it, putting his Porsche back on track in 10th.
From there, he collected himself and pushed ahead, picking up four positions to finish sixth.
“We had a great start to the race,” Thompson said. “We started fifth and stayed constant for the first two laps. The car came in really well after that and then about three or four laps later there was a restart. We had a great restart and went from fifth to about second or third and we ran there through Turn Six. I got there and I pushed just a little too hard, dropped two wheels off at the exit of Turn Six and it sucked me into the sand. I got quite close to the wall, but was able to keep calm and bring it back on the track. I rejoined in ninth and 10th and fought my way back to finish sixth.
“We had a really good car. There was no excuse, but we recovered nicely and finished where we needed to.”
During the Round Three race, Thompson set the fourth-quickest lap, putting him P4 for the second half-of the doubleheader later that day.
The Round Four race was decidedly more laidback than Round 3. Thompson played the early stages of the 45-minute race conservatively and held his ground in fourth. This strategy paid dividends as two different cars ahead would spin out, advancing him to second. With the help of a few late race restarts, he was able to make up ground on race leader Michael Lewis in the No. 98, but also had to focus on protecting his position from Kasey Kuhlman’s No. 15.
In the end, Thompson ran out of time to run down Lewis, finishing second, his fifth-career GT3 Cup podium.
“We started fourth which was one spot better than the last race,” Thompson recalled. “I kept a level head on the start and didn’t make a lot of aggressive moves, because it’s a 45-minute race, so I let things play out. One by one, the guys ahead made it easy for me. I didn’t have to pass them. Sloan [Urry] slid off and Angel [Benitez Jr.] spun off, so that put me up in second and I held onto it for the rest of the race. A few restarts made things interesting and I was able to get a little closer to the leader. I was trying to run Michael [Lewis] down at the end, but we just ran out of time.”
The sixth and second-place finishes propel Thompson to the top of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA standings by six points over Michael Lewis.
Thompson now looks ahead to Rounds Five and Six at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., on May 25.
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