Colin Thompson completed a sweep of both Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama rounds this weekend at Watkins Glen International, once again using a last-lap pass of championship rival Angel Benitez Jr. for victory Saturday.
Thompson, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, powered his No. 14 Kelly Moss/Porsche of Bucks County 911 GT3 Cup car past Benitez's No. 05 Formula Motorsport/Avid Motorsport entry exiting Turn 5, completing the decisive pass before both drivers dropped into the famous "Boot" section of the historic circuit. He then sped to the checkered flag .717 of a second ahead of Benitez. His victory completed another charge from the third row of the starting grid by Thompson, who started sixth. He started fifth Friday.
"After qualifying like that and having a transponder failure yesterday, I just never thought we'd be able to work forward like that," Thompson said. "The competition is ridiculous out here. We got it done. My engineer and the team just gave me an unbelievable car. It was a rocket ship!
Thompson navigated traffic with precision Friday to erase a deficit of nearly five seconds in the last five minutes of the race. He passed Benitez in the final corner of the 11-turn, 3.4-mile road course for his first career victory after both drivers split the lapped car of Thompson's Kelly Moss teammate Seth Davidow.
Traffic didn't play as big of a factor in the final-lap showdown Saturday, as Thompson passed Kuhlman with less than three minutes remaining in the 45-minute race. He then set his sights on Benitez, who led by .553 of a second. Thompson pulled to within .331 of a second with one lap remaining, with clear track ahead of both drivers.
Benitez and Thompson charged into Turn 1 and up through the narrow Esses turn complex and the back straightaway. Thompson looked to pass entering the Bus Stop chicane, but Venezuelan driver Benitez parried. Then Thompson made his move exiting the Bus Stop and drove past Benitez before the two drivers entered The Boot.
Benitez was upset after Thompson's victory Friday, inferring that lapped cars impeded his progress and helped Thompson catch him. But Benitez praised Thompson's inspired final lap today.
"I'm glad I got second after what happened yesterday," Benitez said. "I'm happy just to be on the podium. I guess he deserved this one. He drove really good, so it was a good victory for him."
Thompson expanded his championship lead to four points, 116-112, over Benitez with the weekend sweep. He and Benitez entered this event tied atop the standings with 76 points.
David Calvert-Jones was the second finisher behind Kuhlman among Platinum Masters competitors in the No. 12 Competition Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian entry. David Baker completed the Platinum Masters podium in the No. 56 Topp Racing car.
"Today was great," Calvert-Jones stated. "I really had a bad day yesterday. A couple of issues yesterday morning, which got my mind totally off balance. I had a bad qualifying and a terrible race. It was just absolutely hopeless, and today I felt really good. Today was really great. Started P10, I think. Moved up to P8 with some fast people behind me. But I stuck with them. It was great."
Thompson wasn't the only driver to pull off a class sweep. Masters driver Michael Levitas, from Baltimore, earned his second victory of the weekend in the Gold Cup (2010-2013 model cars) in the No. 35 TPC Racing Porsche.
Fred Poordad rounded out the Gold Masters podium in the No. 02 Competition Motorsports 911 GT3 Cup car.
"Compared to yesterday, much better," added Poordad. "The car was great. The car was great yesterday. Had a mishap on the first lap yesterday that put me down. I started P7 today and ended up P5, so I'm happy with that. A few more laps, and I could have moved up the field. But we had a couple of long yellows today, and ironically, not yesterday. When I needed them, we didn't have them, and today I didn't want them and we had them. I thought it was a good race. Everyone was clean out there and worked really hard. So I'm happy with that performance. Competition Motorsports did a great job putting an awesome car underneath me."
Gold Masters competitor Oscar Arroyo won the Yokohama Hard Charger Award by climbing five spots from his starting position in the No. 89 JDX Racing Porsche.
"I am very happy with this race," Arroyo concluded. "I made a lot of effort to advance and advance. Next time, I am going to try to do even better. We want to be back and give a shout to our great people."
Rounds 9 and 10 of the season are scheduled for July 10-13 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, the only rounds of the series in Canada.
For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visitwww.gt3cupchallengeusa.com, follow hashtag #GT3USA @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook. For live updates of on-track action during the season, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.