The last race weekend of the 2017 season arrived with beautiful weather and an awesome track. Sonoma Raceway has continued to improve their facility and track over the years and is a top notch motorsports venue. Not to mention located in the heart of the California wine country!
Qualifying went well, with Mark putting in a solid effort and placing P11. The shifting issues of the past several races had been solved by the McLaren engineers and both Mark and the Tender Belly KPR McLaren were set and ready to race. Round 17 started at 5:15pm in the setting sun. Mark made a good rolling start and soon was engulfed in a heated battle lasting most of the race. In dramatic fashion, Mark made an awesome pass on the #10 of Tony Gaples in the last corner of the last lap to take P10 overall and P2 in GTSA! That put Mark 1 point ahead of Tony in the season championship points in GTSA with one race to go.
Round 18 featured the fan (and Marks!) favorite format, the standing start. Mark started P12 and just like he has done all year got a great launch in the Tender Belly KPR McLaren to complete the first lap in P8, where he stayed for much of the race. A tight battle ensued between Mark, Tony Gaples, and George Kurtz in the other McLaren. A full course yellow stacked up the field and intensified the battles on track. Unfortunately Tony Gaples, who had passed Mark, was taken out by the Aston Martin and the race was immediately red flag/checkered ending the day prematurely. Mark ended up P10 overall and P4 in GTSA. Because of his fantastic standing start Mark received the Best Start Award!
The 2017 Championship saw the Tender Belly KPR McLaren finish P9 overall and P3 in Am. It was a great year, with Mark not only improving his skills immensely but doing it while learning and dealing with a new car that had many teething problems.
KPR would like to thank Tender Belly, Premiere Copier, and Racing Radios for the significant contributions these sponsor made this year. It would not have been possible without the