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IMSA PROTOTYPE CHALLENGE TEAMS PREPARE FOR AN ENTIRELY NEW SEASON OF RACING IN 2018

With the start of a new racing season, and an entirely new format on the horizon, IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda drivers and teams ventured onto the banks of the Daytona International Speedway, some of them for the first time, in preparation for what is no doubt going to be an exciting new ‘challenge.’

Eleven total entries tested during two one-hour sessions Dec. 5 on the 3.56-mile speedway road course in preparation for the first race of the 2018 season which will take place in just a few weeks at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, Jan. 5-7.

The series will launch an entirely new endurance racing format that allows for single- or dual-driver lineups competing in a single one-hour, 45-minute race per event weekend for both MPC and LMP3 car classes.

Five teams tested two-driver lineups with P1 Motorsports and Eurosport Racing featuring the highest participating number of entries with three each in both LMP3 and MPC classes, respectively.

New to series competition in 2017, P1 Motorsports expands their lineup to a three-car effort for the season, with multiple driver combinations in their LMP3 entries. Matthew Dicken, who is fresh off his rookie season in the series, is joined by sportscar veteran Corey Lewis, who is also expected to compete in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as well, in the No. 17 Ligier JS P3.

Returning P1 Motorsports driver Kenton Koch will be joined by Joel Janco, who has participated in the series in the MPC division for many years. The two will be sharing the No. 25 entry.

Jim Garrett, who returns after a few years hiatus will be joined by Robby Foley in the No. 42. Foley, who got his start with P1 Motorsports at Watkins Glen International last season only participated in three events, but proved his skill by accruing two podium finishes in his debut season.

Rounding out the LMP3 entries was the No. 4 of ANSA Motorsports piloted by 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Gold Champion Roman De Angelis, and the returning Ave-Riley AR2 chassis of Ave Motorsports, with Tony Ave and another series newcomer, Josh Hurley, sharing the No. 44 entry.

In MPC competition, Eurosport returns veterans Tim George of Austin, Texas, Michal Chlumecky of Windsor, Ontario, and Jon Brownson of Breckenridge, Colorado. All three drivers have participated in at least two seasons of racing and have plenty of experience in the Elan DP02 MPC chassis, powered by Mazda engines.

MPC Masters Champion Stuart Rettie will be returning with ODU Motorsports in the No. 21 Lion Rampant Motorsports entry and he will be joined by his rival Gary Gibson in the Team Perfect Pedal No. 13 entry. The pair shared spirited and friendly competition throughout the 2017 season, often swapping positions on the podium at each venue.

Bart Wolf, of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, joined the series at the last race of the season at Road Atlanta in the MPC class, and will be continuing on with the series in 2018 in the No. 28 Wolf Motorsports entry.

FROM THE DRIVERS PERSPECTIVE:

Stuart Rettie – No. 21, ODU Motorsports – MPC

“I have run here Formula Mazda back in 2015, so I have been to the track before. It was great. I think it was great that IMSA is making us a part of the Roar and giving us a chance to test here. It was really fun. We had a morning session, it was a little bit tricky for us – we had a few little car issues, but this afternoon was really good and I am looking forward to coming back here in early January.”

What do you think of the new series format?

“Yeah, it’s going to bring a whole new flavor to it, that’s for sure. Certainly, we did one practice pit stop this morning and we improved exponentially by the second one, so we will have to practice some back in the race shop to get that right. It’s going to be fun. There are a lot of drivers that are trying to decide, ‘do they do the whole race themselves? Or do they split?’ It’s going to make it quite interesting. It brings a whole new dynamic. I’ll probably run it myself. I’ll try the first one myself and see what happens after that.”

Jon Brownson – No. 34, Eurosport – MPC

“To run the speedway banking is really a thrill and a pleasure here. It’s unique to be running our cars in the banking, especially banking like this. It’s very exciting. I love it.”

What do you think of the new series format?

“I think it will be interesting to see. It will hopefully solve some of our challenges of the previous experiences and give us a chance to have some cleaner races within our classes.”

Corey Lewis – No. 17, P1 Motorsports – LMP3

Have you run this car before?

“It is not my first time [in this car]. Last year I coached Matt Dicken [teammate], all last season, so I have done some tests here and there, but I guess it’s my first full time in the car for the season.

It is completely night and day difference. I do love the GT3 car – the Lamborghini that was here the last few years. It’s just heavier, not as fast, less aero. Whereas now the LMP3 car, Matt and I, last time he was here, he was in the Continental car in the Porsche Cayman, so we both are kind of adapting to our new spaceship that we have here at P1 Motorsports, so yes, it is night-and-day difference. More aero, a lot later in the brake zone for the brakes. Hoping that the car slows down in a sense. You’re breaking down those mental barriers in your mind of, ‘there is no way we can brake that late and still make the corner.’ It’s been a fun challenge and Matt and I have been having a good time with it, so hopefully we can bring our Strategic Wealth Designers [sponsor] P1 Motorsports LMP3 up to the front come race day.”

What do you think of the new series format?

“Honestly, I like it. I think it really suits the car and I think that’s what the series needs as it is kind of the feeder into WeatherTech [SportsCar Championship]. You get the feel for what the WeatherTech show is like and having experience in that series and now bringing up the drivers and teams, I think it is a really good thing for the series overall that IMSA put together.”

Robby Foley – No. 42, P1 Motorsports – LMP3

Have you run at Daytona before?

“I did run here one time, last year actually in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in Mazda MX5 ST car, so a very different race car for sure. That was my first time here, so it’s definitely been a good experience getting some laps here in the P3 car and learning a lot for sure.”

What do you feel is the biggest difference between the GT car and the P3 car?

“Pretty much everything. Especially just the way that we brake and the way the car reacts having less suspension travel and downforce and things like that. You can challenge a lot more different areas than in the ST car or sedan car, low grip no downforce, low horsepower, very slow, so we are doing a lot higher top speed. The car does everything a bit better, so taking advantage of that has been fun and learning the nuances in and out has been fun as well.”

What do you think of the new series format?

“Yeah, I think it’s awesome. Especially for myself, looking to move up, the endurance format is nice because going to WeatherTech or something like that, you’ll be in endurance format. Still a sprint racing atmosphere, just kind of a shorter race, definitely the endurance aspect, pit stops and things like that, it’s good practice for the future for me hopefully and I think having two drivers now – now we have six drivers on the team, we can share a lot more information. Get a lot more perspectives on different things, so I think, in general, it has been positive so far.”

Jim Garrett – No. 42, P1 Motorsports – LMP3

What do you think of your new teammate?

“Well, I am ecstatic that I have Robby [Foley] as my teammate. It was funny – we met at Petit [Le Mans] over lunch and we put together a deal in about a week and a half and not only with Robby himself, but with the team and the car, so we had a wonderful opportunity to come onboard with P1 and we decided we really needed to jump at that as quickly as we could and with Robby being available, it was absolutely a perfect scenario for us.”

Have you run at Daytona before?

“This is the first time I have run here, so this weekend is eye opening for me. Love the banking, it’s great, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. The new car is a heck of a lot of fun and being able to get some laps in and have feedback from Robby and some of the other guys has just been everything that I have needed to get me up to speed.”

What do you think of the new series format?

“I think it is really interesting that the series is keeping up to date with the times. We’ve got a new car, the P3, it’s obviously a world platform. It’s something we can see all over the world and we can make it relevant all over the world, so, having that availability, and having IMSA really looking at the needs of the drivers, looking at the needs of the cars and the needs of the series and keeping those all together, I think has been really fortunate for us and, as a driver, it makes it great to be able to advance and run different cars.”

Source. LST Marketing

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