Pro Class Standings Tighten Following Thompson, Estep Victories
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The Road America stop for any series is always popular, but “America’s National Park of Speed” is a special place to the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands. The 4.048-mile circuit again proved that nothing should be taken for granted in the one-make race series.
As it was in the tour’s first stop there in 2021, the races were split between two up-and-comers in the series while the championship leader met with misfortune. The end results saw Parker Thompson earn his third win of the season in Race 1 on Saturday, while Trenton Estep won Sunday’s Race 2, also his third win of the season. Both have closed on overall points leader Kay van Berlo, who had a dramatic drive through the field over the course of Saturday’s 40-minute race but failed to finish on Sunday.
Thompson knew he had an opportunity to win Race 1, starting from pole position in the No 9 JDX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car. With his primary championship nemesis, van Berlo, forced to start at the back of the field in 31st position as a result of a technical violation in qualifying, the stage was set for the Canadian to close on the Dutchman. A good start was critical so he could remain ahead of Estep, who entered the race third in the Pro class standings behind van Berlo and Thompson.
Thompson and Estep charged deep into Turn 1 at the end of the long uphill front straightaway, where the No. 9 nosed just ahead of Estep’s No. 6 MDK Motorsports Porsche. Thompson never relinquished the lead from there. The win was the sixth of Thompson’s career. Michael McCarthy (No. 7) was the highest finisher for the Wisconsin-based Kelly-Moss team in third place.
Despite starting at the back, van Berlo and teammate Riley Dickinson cut through the field in the pair of Kelly Moss-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars. Five-minutes into the race, the championship points leader was already up 15 spots. If not for the race’s only yellow flag stealing 15 minutes of racing from his pursuit, van Berlo – who finished in fourth – would have likely gotten on the podium. The caution hurt Dickinson as well. The fourth-place points runner brought home seventh in the race.
Marco Cirone (No. 84 Mark Motors Racing Porsche) won his second Pro-Am class race of the season on Saturday. Ongoing pressure came from class points leader and pole winner Alan Metni (No. 99 Kelly Moss) but Cirone denied the No. 99 its fifth victory of the year.
Mark Kvamme quickly returned to winning form after missing the Canadian rounds, piloting the No. 43 MDK Porsche from the Am class pole position to his sixth win of the year. The win put him within two points of John Goetz (No. 57 Wright Motorsports). Both of the Am class drivers passed Bill Smith, who missed the weekend due to an injury sustained at home.
An early Sunday morning rain was ending as the 29-car field took to the track for the second race of the weekend. Estep used the weather, his experience and a mid-race mishap by the competition to push the No. 6 MDK Porsche to his third win of the season. Behind him, Cirone in the Pro-Am class and Kvamme in the Am category secured their second wins of the weekend. It was the first MDK sweep of class wins in the series.
Two cautions slowed the race, including one involving Pro points leader van Berlo, when Leh Keen (No. 12 311 RS Motorsports) drove deep into Turn 5. Unable to slow the red Porsche enough, Keen tapped the back of Dickinson, who spun and pinballed into his teammate van Berlo. Dickinson able to continue immediately to a 10th-place finish. Van Berlo required a tow and, with left-rear suspension damage, was forced to park the car for a 30th-place finish. Keen was given a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility and would finish 27th.
To the point: Estep’s win, Thompson’s victory in Race 1 and second-place finish in Race 2, compounded by the lowest finish of van Berlo all season, dynamically tightened the Pro class championship. The three are now separated by only 32 points (van Berlo 248, Thompson 232, Estep 216).
In Pro-Am, challenging days by both Metni (215 points) and Efrin Castro (188) brought Cirone (156) to within 32 points of second place Castro and 59 back from championship leader. The Am category had a change with Kvamme (222) moving back into the top spot by three points over Goetz (219). Despite missing the weekend, Smith (188) holds onto third.
Where to Watch: Replays of both races can be found on Porsche Motorsport North America TV presented by Deluxe: (https://www.youtube.com/c/PorscheMotorsportNorthAmerica).
Next Up: Round 13 and 14 of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America will headline the second annual Porsche Sports Car Together Fest at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sept. 2-4.