The 18-year-old racer from San Antonio, Texas was looking for just the right moment to pounce on polesitter Anthony Imperato, and with just over eight minutes remaining, opportunity knocked. Estep answered, maneuvering his No. 3 JDX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car around Imperato’s No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche and into the lead.
From there, Estep set sail, going on to score his second Porsche GT3 Cup USA Platinum Cup race victory. He beat David Kolkmann, who claimed his first series victory last time out at Barber Motorsports Park two weeks ago, by 2.610 seconds.
“We knew coming into Mid-Ohio that it was going to be really, really tough to pass,” said Estep, who started the race from second on the grid. “So, we were just patient, conserved tires and waited for Anthony to make a mistake.
“Thankfully, he did coming out of Turn 9 and going into Turn 10. I managed to get him. Once my car got out of the draft, it was really, really, really good, so I managed to pull a little bit of a gap.”
The victory also enabled Estep to retain the lead in the Platinum Cup championship standings for race cars built in 2017 or 2018. Estep now leads xxxx, by xxx with five of 16 races complete. By setting the fastest lap in Saturday’s race, Estep also will start Sunday’s race from the pole position.
Shortly after Estep found his way past for the lead, Kolkmann also managed to get past Imperato for second place, where he would finish in the No. 71 Park Place Motorsports Porsche. It was Kolkmann’s third consecutive podium result in the series, after taking second in the first race of the Barber doubleheader last month and winning the second.
Imperato, who led the first 33 minutes of the race after starting from the pole position for the first time in his GT3 Cup Challenge USA career, held on to finish third in the No. 91 Porsche. Fourth place went to Roman De Angelis in the No. 1 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry, while Maxwell Root rounded out the top five in the Platinum Cup class aboard the No. 7 Wright Motorsports Porsche.
In Platinum Cup Masters action, Alan Metni picked up his first victory of the season in the No. 99 AM Motorsports/Kelly-Moss Porsche. Metni’s victory snapped a three-race winning streak in Masters by Charlie Luck in the No. 45 Wright Motorsports machine. Luck finished second in Masters, one spot ahead of Mark Kvamme in the No. 43 JDX Racing Porsche.
“It was great,” Metni said. “It was a lot of fun, hard fought, all the other guys did a really great job, and I was really happy to come out on top.
“It was tough. It was competitive. I mean, we had a good fight going for probably 35 of the 45 minutes. It was really good.”
Victor Gomez IV continued his strong 2018 campaign in the Gold Cup class for cars built between 2014 and 2016. Gomez picked up his fourth victory in five races this season aboard the No. 25 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machine.
“Honestly, superb job by the team,” Gomez said. “’I want to thank them for their huge support. Look at all my fan club here from Puerto Rico. Hard work is finally paying off. I got radioed in halfway through the race that I was about a second from the Platinum leaders, and that’s the goal. Be as close as possible for next year. Possibly, go up one class into the Platinum class.”
Rob Ferriol finished second in Gold Cup in the No. 5 TPC Racing Porsche, followed by Kurt Fazekas, who came home third in Gold Cup in the No. 52 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry.
The Yokohama Hard Charger Award for Race No. 1 at Mid-Ohio went to Geoffrey Boss in the No. 12 JDX Racing Porsche for improving the most positions from start to finish in the Platinum Cup class. Boss finished sixth after starting 10th.
The second half of this weekend’s Mid-Ohio doubleheader takes the green flag 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday. The race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv.