But before Friday, Thompson never had driven a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the rain anywhere. As it turns out, he’s a pretty quick study.
In Saturday afternoon’s rain-soaked, 45-minute Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama first race of a weekend doubleheader at Mid-Ohio, Thompson handled the conditions masterfully. He got a great jump on a restart to take the lead from Riley Dickinson and never put a wheel wrong – which was easier said than done – to record the first victory of his GT3 Cup Challenge USA career in the No. 3 JDX Racing Porsche.
“It’s unbelievable,” Thompson said. “I’m just so proud of this JDX Racing crew. It didn’t look like I was even going to get into sports cars this year, but for them to have me in as a transfer from open-wheel, my hat is off to the crew. I can’t thank these guys enough for getting me in here.
“These guys develop one heck of a rain car. All I did was make sure I kept it on track, and we just drove off in the sunset. Really, a rain race is about the car. It’s about the driver too, but I did my job, they did their job and we came away with the win today.”
There were three full-course caution periods, including one that came out as the field was coming to take the white flag. As a result, the race finished behind the safety car.
Coming home second behind Thompson was Roman De Angelis in the No. 79 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche. The 18-year-old Canadian went into the race as the leader in the Platinum Cup point standings for 911 GT3 Cup machines built between 2017 and 2019 after sweeping both races at last month’s season-opening doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park. In fact, he led every lap of both of those races.
He started today’s race from the pole position as the starting grid was set by championship points when qualifying was not completed earlier Saturday. But De Angelis never led today, as both Dickinson and Thompson found their way past at the start of the race. He benefited from a late off-course excursion by Dickinson – who went off in avoidance of a spinning car – to take second and retain the points lead.
With three of 16 races complete, De Angelis now leads Thompson by seven points, 102-95.
Max Root picked up his first podium result of the season with a third-place showing in the No. 7 Wright Motorsports Porsche. The 2018 IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Scholarship recipient also took home Yokohama Hard Charger Award honors as the Platinum Cup driver who improved the most positions from start to finish, improving from 10th on the grid to third at the finish.
Jeff Kingsley made it two JDX Racing Porsches in the top-four with a fourth-place run in the No. 16 Porsche. Dickinson recovered from his late race “off” to come home fifth in the No. 53 Moorespeed entry.
It was a wild race in Platinum Masters for drivers 45 years of age and older. Early on, points leader and defending Masters champion Alan Metni in the No. 99 AM Motorsports/Kelly-Moss Porsche and Bill Smith in the No. 42 Topp Racing Porsche tangled while battling for the lead in Turn 2, sending both cars spinning off course and Smith eventually to pit road to serve a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility.
That gave the lead to Fred Poordad in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche, but he was bitten a few laps later by the conditions and spun. David Baker then took the lead in the No. 56 Topp Racing machine. He was within two laps of the victory but skidded off course and brought out the race-ending full-course caution. That gave the Masters win to Poordad. It was his first victory since Race 2 last year at VIRginia International Raceway.
“It was really kind of a survival test out there,” Poordad said. “There were some guys with pretty good pace, actually, but it’s hard to keep it on the track. I even had one little excursion, kept it on the track, although I did a 360 and got going again.
“I’m just happy that we were able to finish the race and with Max Root as well. Thumbs up for Wright Motorsports for putting us in a great car. It was a struggle all week for everybody, but we’re happy with the results today.”
Smith battled back to take second in Masters, followed by Metni, who wound up third.
In Gold Cup for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machines between 2014 and 2016, Sebastian Carazo brought home his second victory of the season in the No. 27 NGT Motorsport entry. Carazo took the lead early on from Gold Cup polesitter Kurt Fazekas in the No. 52 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche and held on the rest of the way to win.
“It was a pretty eventful race right from the start,” Carazo said. “It was basically, the first couple laps, staying alive and avoiding everything. It was just trying to get by the first couple laps, and then just finding your rhythm, finding your points and then just start hitting them. That was pretty much all the race.”
Rob Ferriol finished second in Gold Cup in the No. 5 TPC Racing Porsche with Efrin Castro completing the podium by finishing third in the No. 65 ACI Motorsports Porsche.
Race 2 from the Mid-Ohio weekend rolls off Sunday morning at 11 a.m. ET and will be streamed live on IMSA.tv.
Source. IMSA/Photo Porsche