Winning Start to 2017 for Kelly-Moss Road and Race at Sebring

Winning Start to 2017 for Kelly-Moss Road and Race at Sebring

Sebring, Fla. (17 March 2017) –  Kelly-Moss Road and Race (KMR) made a winning start to the 2017 season as the team launched its dual IMSA programs this weekend at Sebring International Raceway.

Looking to defend its championship campaign, KMR posted a strong five-car entry in IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama for the double-header race weekend. The team was once again a competitive force, with young American Jake Eidson taking a solid second to Scott Hargrove in Race 1 and a decisive victory in Race 2.

KMR drivers Tom Haacker, Kurt Fazekas, and Greg Palmer all had positives to take away from the opening race weekend of the season in GT3 Cup Challenge competition.

The team also debuted its IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda program as the renowned Porsche squad has grown with the addition of an LMP3 program with driver Colin Thompson. The team brought the Norma LMP3 machine its first-ever podium with a run to second place on Friday.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend, with both the prototype and the Porsche program going well,” said team owner Jeff Stone. “It’s a testament to the Kelly-Moss crew and the prep that they do, and all our drivers following the program.”

Eidson, who earned the support of the Hurley Haywood Scholarship to help put him behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 for the season, was pleased to leave the weekend with the championship points lead after a dominating run to victory on Friday.

“I want to thank Kelly-Moss because the car ran a great race and it was great throughout the whole race,” said Eidson. “With the heat today, it was making the car more slippery during the end of the race but we anticipated that. Turns 17 and 1 were getting sketchy toward the end. Kelly-Moss Road and Race did a great job setting up the car – no complaints, it was great. I was just trying to keep Trent (Estep) behind me which was a little stressful, but overall it was great!”

Also in Platinum class competition, Tom Haacker was hoping to score a masters podium but came home fourth in both races in his return to IMSA.

“It’s been five years since I started a season with IMSA and I’m having a blast,” said Haacker. “This is a fantastic, iconic racetrack and you can’t get enough fun out there. It’s challenging, especially with some of the drivers doing some pretty crazy tricks out there – compared to other series I run in, these drivers have bigger, sharper teeth. They’ll dive down in the corners so you have to have your game on. The Porsche 991.2 Cup Car has more power and torque and when you get it lined up, it comes out of the corners really well. I got some good shots out of it but I haven’t reeled in all the nuances yet.”

The race weekend also marked a big return for Kurt Fazekus, who was injured in a crash last year at Watkins Glen, with two podium finishes in the Gold Masters class.

“Well, it was a great run and nice to be back in the series and hopefully we can keep it going at Barber,” said Fazekus. “I haven’t had any rib pain and everything is all good. Kelly-Moss Road and Race put together a really great team and car for us. It’s been a great weekend coming back from the injury at the Glen last year, so we’re really fortunate.”

The race was the first at the IMSA level for Palmer, who adapted well to the new challenges presented by the deep field on the 3.74-mile circuit.

“This was fantastic,” said Palmer. “There is no way you can describe how racing around Sebring International Raceway is going to feel until you actually do it. It’s kind of like releasing a herd of lions at one time and then trying to be the first lion to the meat. But it was such a blast out there. For my first time racing in IMSA I’m really pleased with how it went and so thankful to Kelly-Moss Road and Race for all of their hard work, they did an excellent job keeping me prepped and ready so it was a great experience.”

“There are a lot of fast kids out here and it’s great to have such a rising tide of competition,” said Stone. “We’re excited to have this much competition, because that’s what makes this championship so valuable. We’re fighting for another title and we’ll fight it until the end. Jake (Eidson) drove great in both races, and seeing Kurt (Fazekas) on the podium in both races for the first time is just awesome. Greg Palmer drove great, stayed out of trouble the whole time and finished up in the field and it’s great to see the thrill in his eyes to be part of this great paddock of competitors. Tom Haacker, well he’s just a great guy to work with and already feels like family here at KMR. He had  a bit of unfortunate luck today, but still got to finish and he will be back in the fight at COTA with a strong performance I’m sure. Last year was a struggle for Kurt with his accident at the Glen, but this week was an epiphany for him improving three seconds over his pace last year here at Sebring and scoring his first ever podium finishes in IMSA GT3 Cup with two third place finishes – way to go Kurt!”

Race 1 of the Prototype Challenge weekend offered promise as Thompson scored third on the dual-class grid in the Ignite Payments, Mattoni Water, Brey Krause, Sherwin Williams, Ernst Benz and Edoardo Borrelli-supported Norma machine. The team took delivery of the car, the only example in existence, just last week but was quickly right on pace during the weekend. Thompson’s threat for the lead faded midway through the race as a half shaft gave up and cost him all power.

With a brand new car and a sparse supply of spares, KMR had to use all the resources at hand and then some to prepare the Norma for Round 2. But that huge effort was well-rewarded as Thompson came home second on Friday to score some key championship points and launch the effort with some new hardware.

“This is the only car in the world – we are the only one racing it,” said Thompson. “We are literally NORMA’s R&D department. To go from not even thinking we were going to race 30 minutes before the race to now being on the podium in our first weekend, it is amazing. Kelly-Moss Road and Race just made it happen. We really expected to struggle the first few weeks and develop the car. To come out of the box the first weekend like this, you can’t really ask much more.”

Kelly-Moss Road and Race
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Sebring International Raceway Rounds 1 & 2

Race 1
Platinum Class
Jake Eidson, Littleton, Colorado – No. 24 Kelly-Moss, 2nd
Tom Haacker, LaQuinta, California – No. 80 Monster Digital 4th Masters-Plat.

Gold Class

Greg Palmer, Colgate, Wisconsin – No. 44 Copps Industries 7th
Kurt Fazekas, Indianapolis, Indiana – No. 52 Kelly-Moss 3rd Masters-Gold.

Race 2
Platinum Class
Jake Eidson, Littleton, Colorado – No. 24 Kelly-Moss 1st
Tom Haacker, LaQuinta, California – No. 80 Monster Digital 4th Masters-Plat.

Gold Class
Greg Palmer, Colgate, Wisconsin – No. 44 Copps Industries 6th
Kurt Fazekas, Indianapolis, Indiana – No. 52 Kelly-Moss 3rd

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