Koch Captures Mazda MX-5 Cup Pole at CTMP

Friday, Jul 11 1179
Kenton Koch, of Glendora, California, will start from the No.1 position for Saturday’s Round Seven race of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, part of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Koch wasted little time in setting a high bar to beat by turning his pole-winning time on only his second circuit of the 10-turn, 2.459-mile permanent road course. Driving the No. 12 ALARA Racing/Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, he stopped the clock at 1:34.850 (93.330 mph). The time will go down as a new qualifying lap record for the class at CTMP.
“I planned on trying to go out there to set my fastest lap on the first or second time around,” Koch said. “We set our pressures a little higher knowing it was going to be warm. Yesterday, the track really fell off after the Sports Car Challenge group got off the track. We had planned for the same thing to happen in this session.
“Since the beginning of the season, I’ve been working on trying to put down early fast laps during qualifying. We got it right and the ALARA guys made sure everything was rock solid.”
Nathanial Sparks, of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and Patrick Gallagher, of Thornville, Ohio, completed the top three starting positions. Sparks also took an early flying lap. On his third time by the line, he recorded a time of 1:37.460 (92.734 mph) while driving the No. 8 OOTSK Performance/Bimmerworld MX-5. Sparks was able to get out of the pits ahead of Koch, which allowed him to hold the top position until being one-upped by Koch.
“This all started when I was able to set a good lap time during the last practice,” Sparks said. “I just put my head down and focused. The tires came in, and I was able to make a good early lap. After that, the tires began to fall off a bit and I just couldn’t match my early speed.
“We haven’t changed our approach to doing things. I showed up with a good setup idea from John Dean, and it just feels good. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get his car to come alive, but mine feels like I’m driving a limousine out there.”
Driving the No. 28 MedBuild/Henry Schein/ModSpace MX-5, Gallagher was able to stop the lap timer at 1:35.810 (92.395 mph). With track conditions that featured deteriorating grip, Gallagher was able to put in a flying lap mid-way through his run.
“I don’t know how much faster we can go without the draft,” Gallagher said. “I think Sparks did a great job by putting his car second.
“I think it’s going to take a lot of working together on the straights. But, I think our mid-corner speed is the best of the field. I would put it up against anyone else. We’ll be able to hang in the draft, but passing for the win is something different.”
Ara Malkhassian, of Houston, put his No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5 into the fourth-place grid position, with a fast lap of 1:35.847 (92.359 mph).
Sebastian Landy, of Great Falls, Virginia, finished the 30-mintue qualifying session in the fifth. He was able to pilot the No. 49 Excitations.com/Atlanta Motorsports Group MX-5 to a fast lap of 1:35.875 (92.332 mph).
In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, put in a pole-winning drive. His lap of 1:37.565 (90.733 mph) was not only good enough for the top position in class, but also eclipsed the previous qualifying-lap record.
“Turning early fast laps was part of the plan,” Foley said. “We didn’t know what the track was going to be like, especially with the tire rubber put down just before we went out. The pole lap was really early, about lap four, so that went to plan. I felt like the track got greasy as the session wore on.
“As far as the race goes, you have to set the car up for the long run. We proved the point in qualifying that you can set the car up to do a couple quick laps right out of the box, but by lap 10 you’re really fighting the car. We have to set the car up to come in during the middle, while making sure you do not push too hard early on.”
Completing the top three positions in class were Lucas Bize, of New York, with a time of 1:37.652 (90.652 mph), and Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, with a best time of 1:37.658 (90.647 mph), at the controls of the No. 61 Project Yellow Light SBMX-5.
The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires is set to start Round Seven, on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. (EDT). That race will be followed by Round Eight, later in the day, at 4:20 p.m. (EDT).
Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

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