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Mar 20

The much-anticipated debut of the LM P3 category in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda didn’t disappoint

IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Event News and Notes

The much-anticipated debut of the LM P3 category in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda didn’t disappointFour different manufacturers were represented in the class over the weekend at Sebring International Raceway for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

The Ligier JS P3, Ave-Riley AR2, Norma M30 and Ginetta LM P3 had strong performances in their first race, with the Ligier JS P3 taking the class win with series newcomer Nico Jamin, of ANSA Motorsports, behind the wheel.

Jamin led the race flag-to-flag with pressure from former GT3 Cup Challenge USA champion Colin Thompson, of Kelly-Moss Road and Race, and Andres Gutierrez, in the No. 12 of Performance Tech Motorsports. All three drivers were making their series debut.

LM P3 Masters competitor Lonnie Pechnik, in the P1 Motorsports Ligier, made an early pass on Thompson during Lap 1, taking third place overall and the Masters Class lead. Thompson, in the Norma M30, suffered race-related mechanical issues and was forced to retire after Lap 12.

Pechnik continued to hold third position throughout the race to end up on both the Overall LM P3 and Masters podiums.

Series veteran Naj Husain, in the No. 3 Ligier JS P3 entry of Extreme Speed Motorsports, also gained three positions on Lap 1 and then continued to gain ground and settle into fifth overall by Lap 5. His consistency earned him a solid second-place finish in the Masters class.

Doug Peterson, of HP-Tech in his Ligier JS P3, followed Husain’s lead and steadily gained ground through the beginning of the race, pushing him from his 16th-place start on the grid to finish in seventh overall and third in the Masters class.

In the Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) class, the venerated Élan DP02 continued to prove its race worthiness by keeping pace with the LM P3 class.

Kyle Masson, 19, from Windermere, Florida, demonstrated consistent race craft in his No. 18 Performance Tech entry, starting and finishing in fourth overall and taking the win in the MPC Class. Masson finished fifth in the IMSA Prototype Challenge series championship last season.

JDC Motorsports’ Kris Wright joined the series this season with previous experience from the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series. He took the second-place finish in class over series veteran Gary Gibson in the Team Perfect Pedal No. 13 entry.

Twenty-five entries took the green flag in Round 1 with Jamin and Masson setting the fastest lap times in class with 1:58.955 and 2:00.551, respectively.

 

 

Race 1 Driver Quotes:

Nico Jamin – No. 20, ANSA Motorsports – LM P3 Winner

“Overall, it was a really good race for ANSA, Ligier and Onroak. The new LM P3 is awesome. Big thanks to them for creating such a great car. My race was good. I had (Andres) Gutierrez in the back at the beginning. I was just managing the tires because I knew it would be a long race and we would wear out the rear tires quite a bit so I was just managing them and then it was all about getting through traffic as fast as possible. It all went very well. I think everybody had really great behavior on track, letting me by and everything. That was very nice and I’m very happy to take the win for ANSA.

I was in St. Pete last weekend at Indy Lights. It didn’t work quite as well so it’s good to be here this weekend and get a win.”

Lonnie Pechnik – No. 17, P1 Motorsports – LM P3 Masters Winner

“This P1 Motorsports team did a phenomenal job over the course of the week to get the car up to speed. We still have to find some more speed to get up to first and second but our engineer Jon Shapiro will certainly be able to do it. Our entire crew, Alberto Peña being the team manager, did an awesome job guiding everybody through the whole week and of course JC Perez, my teammate and car owner, did a phenomenal job all week and I’m super proud of him.”

Kyle Masson – No. 18, Performance Tech Motorsports – MPC Winner

“The start of the race was very interesting with the LM P3s mixed in with the LM PCs. Obviously, all the LM P3s passed us at the start and it was frustrating because there were P3 cars slower, lap-time wise so I spent the first five, six laps or so stuck behind them and being pitted against the JDC car. I had to do my best to get in front of those P3s so then I could pull away from the guy who was my competition. Once I made the pass and got in front of the LM P3 car, I was able to pull away because then he was stuck behind the LM P3 car.

I’d say the most difficult aspect of the race was coming straight out of the PC car in WeatherTech. They drive so differently and I was borderline sketchy in the Prototype Challenge car trying to figure things out during the practice session. Hopping back into the LM PC car, I had to totally remember momentum, the limit and everything was just really off for awhile in the race, but once it clicked, I figured it out. It was smooth sailing from there.

I’m definitely hoping the race tomorrow goes really well in the Mazda Prototype Challenge but I just need to get more practice in the WeatherTech Prototype Challenge car and just keep building my confidence with it.”

RACE 2 SUMMARY

When the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series announced it would field the new LM P3 cars in 2017, ANSA Motorsports was one of the first to commit to running a Ligier JS P3. One of the team’s pilots for the first two rounds of competition this year is young talent Nico Jamin, 21, from Rouen, France.

Jamin entered the grid for Round 2 on pole after leading every lap and winning the weekend’s first race as part of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida. From the drop of the green flag for the second event, Jamin pulled away from the field and built a gap of more than seven seconds on his competition by the eighth lap.

A full course yellow interrupted Jamin’s groove just beyond the halfway mark, but the Frenchman still cruised to victory with the confidence of having led every lap of the weekend.

Colin Thompson recovered from a disappointing first round to finish second in his Norma M30 for Kelly-Moss Road and Race, followed by Andres Gutierrez in the Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P3. This marked Gutierrez’s second podium of the weekend.

Competition in the Masters class was a virtual repeat of Round 1 with Lonnie Pechnik taking the class win for P1 Motorsports and Naj Husain, from Extreme Speed Motorsports, holding off Doug Peterson’s HP-Tech machine for second position. The trio of podium finishers for both rounds were all driving Ligier JS P3 cars. Pechnik barely missed getting his second overall podium of the weekend finishing fourth in the field.

The Mazda Prototype Challenge class (MPC) hosts competition in equal-specification Mazda-powered Élan DP02 cars. Kyle Masson, who finished fifth in last year’s championship, let the class know that he’s looking to win this year by sweeping his second win of the weekend in his Performance Tech Motorsports DP02. Masson was among the cast of drivers who won the Prototype Challenge class in the Rolex 24 At Daytona back in January. He attributed much of his success during the WeatherTech championship weekend to experience gained in the MPC cars.

Series veteran Brian Alder, owner and driver of the BAR1 Motorsports entry, grabbed the second podium step by holding off a charging Tazio Ottis of JDC Motorsports. It was the first podium of the weekend for the pair.

 

Race 2 Driver Quotes

Nico Jamin – No. 20, ANSA Motorsports – LM P3 Winner

“It was a very good race and I am super happy for ANSA Motorsports. Ligier and Onroak did a good job. My car was amazing today. We made some changes from Thursday and I have nothing to say about the car except that it was just amazing. I could do whatever I wanted and control the race. When the caution came out, I was still pretty comfortable, because I knew I would have a strong car at the restart. We were about to pull a pretty good gap and then another yellow came out. I wish we had more green time for the fans but I hope they still enjoyed it. I enjoyed it.”

Lonnie Pechnik – No. 17, P1 Motorsports – LM P3 Masters Winner

“We changed our suspension and set up from Thursday completely to try to find more speed to get up to Andres. We think we actually gained something, but unfortunately the car was a little bit too pushy on entry and it was costing me a little bit of time but even though I set the same time—we believe it’s probably the right direction to go. We’re looking forward to going to Barber (Motorsports Park) and seeing how well the car will do there. Great job by P1 Motorsports. JC (Perez) did an amazing job this whole weekend. I can’t say enough. He’s a novice in the field and he’s only been doing this for a year. He’s really come a long way and I am really proud of him.”

Kyle Masson – No. 18, Performance Tech Motorsports – MPC Winner

“We started on pole in class and fourth overall and the start went much better today than yesterday. I was able to stay ahead of the LM P3 cars that were behind me. I got out and warmed up the tires and started throwing down good lap times and kept my lead throughout the race. Physically it wasn’t as demanding a race as Thursday.”

TV TUNE IN INFORMATION: 
Delayed television coverage of Sebring’s Rounds 1 and 2 will be provided on April 6, 2017 on Fox Sports 2 (FS2). The broadcast will also be available on YouTube 24 hours after it airs on television.

NEXT EVENT: 
BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK

April 21- 23, 2017
Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, AL

source: IMSA