Prototype Lites: Versteeg Dominates for Weekend Sweep at Watkins Glen

Prototype Lites: Versteeg Dominates for Weekend Sweep at Watkins Glen

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Prototype Lites: Versteeg Dominates for Weekend Sweep at Watkins Glen

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It was a picture-perfect Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires weekend for Austin Versteeg.

 
A dominating 14.205-second win in Round 5 Saturday at Watkins Glen completed a sweep of a triple-header weekend for Versteeg, from Sandy, Utah, in the No. 7 JDC Motorsports entry. The three victories also expanded his Lites 1 Championship points lead in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Official Development Series.
 
“I don’t think we can complain about the race,” Versteeg said. “I think I just need to give credit to everyone associated with JDC Motorsports, all their sponsors, all my sponsors, my driver coach, Jonatan Jorge, and JJRD. I think the results speak for how hard these guys work, and there’s something special about these guys and the passion they have for this sport.”
 
Versteeg’s victory extended the Prototype Lites winning streak of JDC Motorsports to 23 consecutive races, dating to August 2014.
 
Lites 1 podium finishers (from left): Max Hanratty, Austin Versteeg, Michael Whelden

Max Hanratty, from Milwaukee, finished second in the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry. His teammate Michael Whelden, from Sonoma, California, earned his second career podium with a third-place finish in the No. 29 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry.

 
Andres Gutierrez, from Monterrey, Mexico, earned his second top-five finish in his first weekend in the series with a fourth-place finish in the No. 43 Performance Tech Motorsports entry.
 
Michal Chlumecky, from Windsor, Ontario, rounded out the top five in the No. 31 Eurosport Racing entry. He also was the top L1 Masters finisher, completing his sweep of the class for the weekend.
 
Versteeg started Round 5 from pole position for the third time this weekend. Unlike the first two races this weekend where Versteeg had slow starts, giving positions away to teammate Clark Toppe, Versteeg had a solid start, keeping Toppe and Kyle Masson firmly behind him.
 
On the first lap, Toppe, from The Woodlands, Texas, spun in Turn 5 going through the Bus Stop and made contact with the tire barrier ending his day in the No. 10 JDC Motorsports entry.
 
The race restarted after a quick cleanup, and Masson challenged Versteeg for the lead by going side-by-side. Masson went wide in the No. 18 Performance Tech car, losing two positions and opening the door to Hanratty and Whelden.
 
Masson clawed his way back, overtaking Whelden and setting his sights on Hanratty. The three battled within a second of each other until Masson went off track in Turn 7 at the 18-minute mark, bringing out the second full-course yellow of the race.  
 
The field bunched, giving Hanratty and Whelden a chance at Versteeg. But championship leader Versteeg had another solid start, pulling away from the field almost immediately and continuously extending his lead for the remainder of the race. He earned his fourth victory in the five rounds of this young season.
 
Lites 1 Masters
 
Chlumecky produced a convincing drive to take a 7.569-second victory over Don Yount to earn his third victory of the weekend in much cooler conditions from yesterday.

Lites 1 Masters podium finishers (from left): Gerhard Watzinger, Michal Chlumecky, Don Yount
“I think the track was perfect in terms of grip for us,” Chlumecky said. “Cooler temperatures gave us a little more downforce. Obviously things worked out well. My team did a great job putting the car together, and the guys at Eurosport need to be applauded because I had a fantastic car to work with this weekend, and it really helped me out a lot.”
 
It is Chlumecky’s first weekend sweep and his win Friday in Round 3 was his first Lites 1 Masters victory since April 2015.
 
Yount, from Dallas, finished second in the No. 27 BAR1 Motorsports entry. It was Yount’s third podium finish of the weekend in his first event of the season.
 
Gerhard Watzinger, from Naples, Florida, rounded out the Masters podium with a third-place finish in the No. 32 ONE Motorsports entry. It was Watzinger’s first podium of the weekend and third of the season, after earning two podiums at the series opener in March at Sebring International Raceway.
 
Up Next
 
The series will have a quick turnaround, with Rounds 6 and 7 scheduled for July 8-10 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.
 
For live timing, visit scoring.imsa.com or the IMSA mobile app for iOS, Android or Windows. For live updates on all the action, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.
 
ROUND 5 POST-RACE QUOTES
 
AUSTIN VERSTEEG (No. 7 JDC Motorsports, winner): “I don’t think we can complain about the race. I think I just need to give credit to everyone associated with JDC Motorsports, all their sponsors, all my sponsors, my driver coach, Jonatan Jorge, and JJRD. I think the results speak for how hard these guys work, and there’s something special about these guys and the passion they have for this sport. I can’t thank them enough. They give me the materials I need to do my best. I’m just happy that I can use those materials to the best of my ability. I am just really happy right now.”
 
MAXWELL HANRATTY (No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports, second): “We were losing a lot of straight-line speed in Race 1 and 2, so we trimmed out the car, and with cold conditions the car was really slick. We had a consistent car all weekend. The Extreme Speed Motorsports team gave me a really great car to keep building off of. I raced really well today, and it’s great to have a teammate (Michael Whelden) that’s up there in pace with me. We were able to challenge each other and see where we could go fast. He was on my tail during the race there, so it was a very uncomfortable place to be. I just want to throw my hat off to SynerComm and Extreme Speed Motorsports for giving me this opportunity.”
 
MICHAEL WHELDEN (No. 29 Extreme Speed Motorsports, third): “Cooler conditions definitely helped out with horsepower and grip. Colder air is more dense. Extreme Speed Motorsports trimmed out a little bit. We were slow on the straights, so we trimmed out and made a couple other adjustments. It was a much better car, and I wish we had it at the start of the weekend. But for me personally, I have never been to The Glen, never tested here, and my first laps were in practice. I missed the second practice, so I had to learn the car and the track in qualifying. Qualified ninth, and in Race 1 I passed a couple of cars and finished sixth. That qualified me for fifth, and we kept just getting faster and faster. Race 2 I stayed in fifth and qualified fifth, so we made some more drastic changes that really, really helped, and I finally got down to the times that the JDC boys were running and I was much happier with the car. My teammate (Max Hanratty) drove away from me and I had to reel him in, but I didn’t have enough racetrack. But he drove an awesome race, and both of us kind of survived out there a little bit. I wanted a podium this weekend.”
 
MICHAL CHLUMECKY (No. 31 Eurosport Racing, first L1 Masters): “I think the track was perfect in terms of grip for us. Cooler temperatures gave us a little more downforce. Obviously, things worked out well. My team did a great job putting the car together, and the guys at Eurosport need to be applauded because I had a fantastic car to work with this weekend, and it really helped me out a lot.”

 

Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires
 
Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires, an International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Challenge Series, is in its 11th season in 2016. The series provides thrilling action and grooms drivers for future WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition in the Prototype and Prototype Challenge classes.
 
The two classes of competition in the Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires series take drivers and teams down unique, exciting roads of prototype sports car racing. Nimble, high-tech, purpose-built Lites 1 machines pack in the power with a 230-horsepower, 2-liter Mazda engine designed to prepare aspiring professionals for prototype competition in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and offer a challenging environment for mature semi-professional drivers, including competition in a Masters Championship. Equally capable and cost-effective Lites 2 machines offer new competitors a perfect introduction to the world-class competition offered by IMSA.
 
For more information about Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires, visit http://www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #MazdaLites @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
 
About IMSA
 
The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) was originally founded in 1969 and owns a long and rich history in sports car racing. Today, IMSA is the sanctioning body of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the premier sports car racing series in North America. IMSA also sanctions the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA – a company within the NASCAR family – is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. For more information, visit http://www.IMSA.com, http://www.twitter.com/IMSA or http://www.facebook.com/IMSA.

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