German driver David Kolkmann took advantage of a tremendous start and held on through changing weather conditions to earn his first career Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama race victory in Sunday’s second half of the Grand Prix of Alabama doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park.
Driving the No. 71 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machine in the Platinum Cup class for race cars built in 2017 or 2018, Kolkmann got a good jump from his second-place starting position when the green flag dropped and entered Turn 1 side-by-side with polesitter and Barber Race 1 winner Roman De Angelis in the No. 1 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche. That gave Kolkmann the inside line heading into Turn 2 and enabled him to pull out into the lead.
From there, Kolkmann spent the rest of the green-flag portion of the race with De Angelis flashing his headlights and breathing down his neck, but the 21-year-old German driver never faltered. Raindrops began falling around the halfway point of the 45-minute race and with slightly more than 20 minutes remaining, Rob Ferriol spun and slid into the Turn 5 gravel trap to bring out the first full-course caution of the entire GT3 Cup Challenge USA event weekend.
As rains intensified, the field remained behind the safety car and the race finished under caution. The victory came in Kolkmann’s fourth series start.
“It’s my first victory in America, my first time on this track, and to come home with a victory is very nice,” said Kolkmann, who finished second in Race 1 on Saturday at Barber. “I think we made the right steps with the setup today. Compared to yesterday, we made another step on the dry setup. Yeah, I’m more than happy.”
De Angelis held on for second to record his third podium result in four races this season and earned more valuable championship points. Another driver to earn valuable points was Will Hardeman, who came home third in Sunday’s race aboard the No. 19 Moorespeed Porsche. As a result, Hardeman trails Platinum Cup points leader Trenton Estep by a single point, 122-121, in the unofficial standings, with De Angelis just one behind Hardeman in third.
Anthony Imperato came home fourth in the No. 91 Wright Motorsports entry for his third top-five result in four races this season. Another Wright Motorsports entry, Charlie Luck, completed the top five in the No. 45 Porsche and also picked up his third straight Platinum Cup Masters victory.
“Oh my gosh, if you would have told me last year – because last year was my first year – that I would have won at Sebring and these two, I would have said, ‘There’s no way,’” said Luck, who now leads No. 99 AM Motorsports/Kelly-Moss driver Alan Metni by 14 points in the Platinum Masters category. “I really am numb. It’s just incredibly exciting. To top that off, this is my first top five in the whole Platinum series.
“I’m just totally appreciative to be able to do this and to be with (Wright Motorsports owner) John Wright and their motorsport program. I really appreciate my wife, Lisa, she’s been a super support and everybody at Luck Companies too. I’ve got my sister and my brother-in-law here for the first time, so a good luck charm there. It was a great, great weekend. I couldn’t ask for more.”
It was a difficult race for Estep in the No. 3 JDX Racing Porsche. He received a drive-through penalty for responsibility in an opening-lap incident with Maxwell Root in the No. 7 Wright Motorsports Porsche and had to battle his way back through the field to finish sixth at the checkered flag.
In Gold Cup competition for race cars built between 2014 and 2016, Kurt Fazekas came home with the victory in the No. 52 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche, snapping a three-race winning streak by Victor Gomez IV. It was Fazekas’ first win in the series since a Platinum Cup Masters triumph last year at Road America.
“I really enjoy driving here,” said Fazekas. “It’s a beautiful track, it’s a challenging track, but it’s a fair track. You really have to pick your spots to make passes. With the Gold class, we’re always mixed in with the Platinums, so the fast Gold guys, it’s difficult. I enjoyed it. I’m very fortunate to make no mistakes. When that full-course yellow came out, we weren’t really that happy for it, because we had a nice gap between second, but I’m just happy to be here as an old guy still pedaling around the racetrack.”
One day after finishing third in class, Frank Raso finished a season-best second in Gold Cup in the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche, one spot ahead of teammate Bill Smith in the No. 42 machine. Smith also won the Yokohama Hard Charger Award – which now includes a custom skateboard in addition to a set of Yokohama ADVAN racing tires – for improving the most positions from start to finish in the Gold Cup class in Race 2.
Gomez finished fourth in Gold Cup and leads the season standings by 11 points, 133-122, over Fazekas.
Next up for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is the series’ first visit to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course since 2010 on the weekend of May 4-6 as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio event weekend.