Watkins Glen, N.Y. (30 June 2018) – Two victories and six podium finishes highlighted a stellar weekend for Kelly–Moss Road and Race (KMR) in two Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama races at Watkins Glen International, part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Celebrating their 30th anniversary in professional motorsports, KMR arrived at Watkins Glen with an impressive stable of seven cars.
The team was well represented in the field, with three cars in the Platinum Cup class which features the latest generation 2017 and 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
The No. 1 Racing for Children’s/MTP/Fortis Porsche of Roman De Angelis, Alan Metni in the No. 99 iFly/VICCI Car Auctions/AM Motorsports Porsche, and the No. 61 of Scott Welham (with Metni and Welham classified in the Masters category) in Platinum were joined by four KMR Porsches in the Gold Cup class for cars from model years 2014-16: Greg Palmer in the No. 44; Kurt Fazekas in the No. 52; Wayne Ducote in the No. 73 and the No. 85 entry of Brent Asplundh.
Qualifying for the Platinum Class came down to a duel between the class points leaders, with second-place De Angelis besting points leader Trenton Estep and scoring the pole for Race One.
As the green flag fell, De Angelis pulled away from the field and established a three-second lead by lap two. But the lead gap evaporated after Palmer suffered an off course excursion in Turn 8 to bring out a full course caution.
When the green flag flew again on Lap 5, De Angelis once more shot out to a substantial lead, putting as much as 4.5 seconds between himself and his nearest competitors. The 17-year-old Canadian set down the laps and held his focus, executing a flawless race to bring home his second win of the season. Metni wrestled his way forward in Platinum Masters, taking second position in class midway through the race.
“That’s probably the hardest part of leading our races – understanding that there’s a lot of time left and throwing yourself off or making a mental mistake can really affect the game,” said De Angelis. “Focusing on hitting my marks and beating my last lap time is the easiest way to maintain it. This track is very quick and very technical, so you can’t switch your mind off which makes it easier. That was pretty close to a perfect race for me.”
Fazekas started third in Gold class and had made the pass for second position when the class leader tangled with a Platinum class car and spun, moving Fazekas into the class lead. He fought hard to hold his position in the closing laps to bring home his second victory of the season. Ducote came home fifth, with Asplundh eighth.
“It was unfortunate that during qualifying, our transponder wasn’t working so we couldn’t get our lap times down,” said Fazekas. “So I only had one hot lap and that put us down on the grid. But I managed to make my way up through the field and was one car behind the leader when he tangled with a Platinum car. We were lucky to win! It’s great for the team to have two victories today, and it’s great for us to get a win and close the gap in the points.”
More Champagne in Race 2
De Angelis started second in Race Two and thought about a move on the outside in Turn 1 but made the higher percentage decision to tuck in at the apex and wait for a more opportune moment.
Meanwhile, Metni, starting on the outside of the Platinum Masters front row, grabbed the lead after battling with class leader Fred Poordad on Lap 3 as a full course caution slowed the field.
Coming back to green flag racing, De Angelis did a masterful job to hold his position after briefly running off course in Turn 3 on cold tires, only to lose the position in Turn 4. Unfortunately, the green flag racing didn’t last, as Ducote was sent into the wall after contact with another car but escaped uninjured.
The green flag flew once again on Lap 10 with De Angelis determined to hunt down the two leaders, but soon had to manage a threat from David Kolkmann in fourth. The pair ran a heart-stopping side-by-side through the esses, with De Angelis holding his position. A final incident on lap 13 meant that the race ended under yellow and finished third.
“I made a bit of a mistake in the restart that cost us,” said De Angelis. “I was trying to be aggressive with the guys so close behind me and almost managed to keep it on the track. It was a great battle with David, and that’s how it should be. I am going to race someone clean because that’s what I expect back, and that was good clean fun. The Kelly–Moss guys gave me a phenomenal car as always, but I just didn’t have the pace today. These are good points toward the championship – anything can happen the rest of the way and we’re not far out.”
“The races are won in the training and in the practices, and huge thanks to the Kelly–Moss team and my crew for getting me out there with a great car, a fast and safe car,” said Metni. “Fred and I were fighting hard, and fighting close. I really respect him as a driver and it’s a shame he couldn’t hold onto it, but it’s part of racing. With all the yellows, it was difficult to stay focused on what was in front of me and not what had just happened or what was happening around me, but the person who can do that is usually the one who does their best. Two podiums including a win was a fun weekend!”
In the Gold class, Fazekas started second but with several Platinum Masters competitors between himself and the class leader, was unable to mount a charge. Greg Palmer recovered from Friday’s Lap 1 incident to finish fifth, with Asplundh eighth.
“I was surrounded by so many Platinum cars that I couldn’t make it happen today,” said Fazekas. “I got a good start and got by a few, but they’d get back on the straights. I just have to qualify better! But two podiums, with a win, is a pretty good weekend.”
“I wanted to have a good, fast start on Friday and was just too aggressive,” said Palmer. “Saturday, I was a bit cautious at the beginning, just to see how the car was, but with three caution periods, it slowed everyone’s rhythm down. In the end, it was about being competitive and bringing the car back. Watkins Glen is a formidable track that requires a serious commitment, but that’s what makes it fun.”
KMR team owner Jeff Stone was disappointed for the drivers who had endured misfortune, but extremely happy to come away from Watkins Glen with a very good hardware haul.
“Even though everyone here has had their share of carnage and things to work through, it was a fantastic weekend overall,” said Stone. “We had two cars badly damaged in qualifying Saturday morning, but we got Brent (Asplundh) and Greg (Palmer) back out and they were able to get into some great racing action. To see Roman (De Angeles) get another win is great, to have Kurt (Fazekas) and Alan (Metni) score huge wins is awesome, and with six podiums… well, we’re all greedy and we want more, but you couldn’t ask for a better weekend. We want to dedicate these wins to our friend Neil Stananought, who couldn’t be here, and to everyone in Birmingham, at Racing for Children and Children’s Hospital, and Medical Properties Trust. We couldn’t be happier.”
KMR races with the partnership support of a wide range of key sponsors including Racing for Children’s and Brey-Krause (www.bkauto.com).
Next up for KMR will be the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama event at Road America, part of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend August 3 through 5.