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Late pass brings One Motorsports victory in HSR Prototype Challenge at Sebring

Kenton Koch pulled off the winning pass heading into the white flag lap and went on to take a narrow 1.682s margin of victory over James French to win Saturday’s inaugural HSR Prototype Challenge presented by IMSA two-hour race in the No. 37 One Motorsports Ligier JS P3 with co-driver Jon Field. French, who co-drove with Alex Koreiba, secured runner-up honors in the No. 25 Wolf Motorsports Ligier JS P3 while John Reisman and Eric Curran finished third in the No. 74 Hudson Historics Ligier JS P3.

The debut race of the new HSR and IMSA series for LMP3 machines was a competitive and at times thrilling race from the drop of the green flag. After starting driver Field impressed by leading every lap of his race-opening stint, Koch took over the One Motorsports No. 37 for the final 75 minutes.

The top on-track driving by both the veteran Field and contemporary sports car racing front runner Koch was backed up by great race and pit strategy by One Motorsports. With teams required to make three pit stops during the race, One made the call to check two of them off in near succession on laps 20 and 22.

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The back-to-back visits to the pits dropped the No. 37 up to 30 seconds behind leader French, but the Wolf team’s third and final stop put the No. 25 back on track just in front of a fast-closing Koch.

Setting the fastest lap of the race of 1:59.014 on lap 36, Koch steadily charged to the front throughout his stint, setting the stage for a nose-to-tail battle with French when pit stops for both competitors were completed with less than 15 minutes to go.

Koch made the winning pass on the penultimate lap when a slight bobble by French going into Turn 15 opened the door to the lead. French in turn kept the pressure on Koch as they took the white flag moments later but never got close enough to attempt retaking the lead in the closing minutes.

Reisman and two-time IMSA WeatherTech Prototype champion Curran, who made a return to racing after a multi-year hiatus, stayed in touch with the leaders throughout the race and joined the top-two finishers as the only three competitors to complete 52 laps in the race’s two hours.

Prototype Challenge Am-class honors went to Tobias Lutke and Travis Hill in the No. 22 TWOth Autosport Ligier JS P3. The win came in just Lutke’s second and biggest race to date after previously competing in the TWOth P3 last November in the HSR Daytona Historics at Daytona International Speedway.

Next up for the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by IMSA is a another two-hour feature race at the 46th HSR Mitty at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, April 26 – 28.