Battery Tender Fast Five: Portland International With Kenton Koch
 August 29, 2018| 
  • Series News

Having raced a range of machines at the track and won in endurance competition on board a Spec Miata there, 2014 Mazda MX-5 Champion Kenton Koch knows his way around Portland International Raceway.

Currently competing in the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda, Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge in TCR, as well as contesting a select schedule of IMSA WeatherTech events, Koch has five things that drivers and fans should look for when the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich racers take to the 1.97-mile circuit this Labor Day weekend.

1.     The track opens and has several passing opportunities, one of which is the approach into the Festival curves chicane. Don't be afraid of trying the outside on the way in. Turn 7, the tight hairpin leading down the back straight, is enticing with how wide it is on the entry. It can be pulled off as a place to pass, but only if you don't hurt your momentum to prevent getting freight trained down the long back straight. Another obvious one is Turn 10, but it is not as easy to get the job done there as it is in Turn 1 since there isn't much of a brake zone.

2.     Turns 10-11 are quick and daunting. A lot of drivers will drop wheels on the inside of the curbs and will eventually get dug out to the point where you could hook a wheel and upset the car. It's a high commitment corner with risk, given the run off is all grass and the wall isn’t too far from the track’s edge on driver’s left. Don’t be afraid to bail out into the Pitlane Entry on driver’s left if you feel you aren't going to make it. 

3.     The curbs may look jarring, but they are big tools to a fast lap here...all of them, except maybe a one or two. But I don’t want to give too many secrets away!

4.     The key to a fast lap here is…I’m a coach, I can’t tell you for free!

5.     On another note, Portland has so many sites to see and places to eat. If I had a top 5 of where I'd go it would be 1. Escape from New York Pizza (Great New York style pizza) 2. Screen Door (Get there before opening in the morning for the best chicken and waffles you've ever had) 3. Blue Star Donuts (because it's better than Voodoo Donuts) 4. Grassa (for amazing Italian food) 5. Thai Orchid (Thai food just over the bridge in Vancouver).

To be honest, there are so many good places to eat in Portland, you really can't go wrong, so go explore!

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