Kenton Koch Sweeps Road America rounds of Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda.
Kenton Koch may be a rookie in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, but his on-track performance has belied that fact time and time again. At Road America, Koch took his seventh and eighth victories of the season and kept his record of finishing on the podium in every round intact.
In Round 9 on Saturday, he scored a 1.601-second margin of victory over JDC Motorsports teammate Matt McMurry. Clark Toppe, from The Woodlands, Texas, capped off a podium sweep for Lites 1 championship leader JDC Motorsports, finishing third in the No. 10 Élan DP02 chassis powered by a Mazda engine.
Polesitter Koch led flag to flag, but not without pressure from his JDC Motorsports teammates. Toppe got a jump on McMurry at the start and set his sights on Koch. He got as close as 0.288sec from the lead before a caution was triggered by Michal Chlumecky making contact with the wall in Turn 3.
Koch retained the lead through Turn 1 of the restart. Toppe made a small mistake in Turn 5 on the same lap that allowed McMurry to slip past. Koch extended his lead, and the three JDC Motorsports teammates finished in their starting positions.
Koch picked up his eighth win of the season, a 0.964-second victory over Robert Alon, in Round 10 of the championship on Sunday to continue to stretch his points lead.
Koch, from Glendora, Calif., led from flag-to-flag in the No. 60 JDC Motorsports entry in the incident-strewn race that ended under caution. The second-place finish for Alon, from Encino, Calif., matches his best of the season in the No. 00 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. He also finished second in Round 6 at Watkins Glen International in June. Alon’s teammate, Austin Versteeg, from Sandy, Utah, rounded out the overall podium with a third-place finish.
The race started with the three JDC Motorsports teammates – Koch, McMurry and Toppe – one-two-three on the grid. Misfortune struck early for Toppe, despite his strong challenge for the lead when he went side-by-side with Koch through Turn 3.
By the second lap he had to be towed to the pits, triggering the first caution of the race. Alon would inherit second place with McMurry in third. Five laps later, McMurry made contact with the tire barrier in Turn 12 to end his day.
Koch pulled away from Alon on the ensuing restart, but Alon closed the gap to battle for the victory before another caution was triggered by two cars off track in Turn 13 and 14 in separate incidents. Koch once again pulled away on the restart with eight minutes to go, but a four-car incident in Turn 5 led to a race-ending yellow flag.
The Cooper Tires Protoype Lites Powered by Mazda has four rounds left in the championship. The next two races will be at VIRginia International Raceway on Aug. 28-29.