IMSA: Third consecutive LMP3 title for the French manufacturer and second title for the Riley team
The end of the 2023 season and of the LMP3 era in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IMSA WSCC) was a memorable one for the Ligier teams. Pole position for the #36 Andretti Autosport Ligier JS P320, and a double podium finish in the ten-hour race at Road Atlanta on October 14 for the #30 Jr III Racing and the #74 Riley. The latter also secured its second LMP3 title in IMSA WSCC since the introduction of LMP3s to the championship in 2021. For the French manufacturer, it's a complete success. All the LMP3 titles contested in the IMSA WSCC have been won by a Ligier team (Riley in 2021 and 2023 and CORE Autosport in 2022). A great way to end this LMP3 adventure in the IMSA WSCC.
• On Thursday 12th October, #30 entered by Jr III Racing (Dakota Dickerson, Bijoy Garg and Garrett Grist) topped the time sheets in free practice 1 with a time of 1m 16.732s.
• Three Ligier JS P320s occupied the top three places in free practice 2 with #30 again clinching first place with a lap in 1m 16.749s.
• After Sebring at the start of the year, Andretti Autosport's #36 bagged the last pole position of the season on Friday 13th October when Glenn Van Berlo set the fastest lap of the session in 1m 16.674s.
• The start of the 10-hour race was given on Saturday morning. Performance Tech Motorsports's #38 (Brian Thienes, Jonathan Woolridge and Cameron Shields) took the lead in the LMP3 category after the first hour followed by Jr III Racing's #30, Andretti Autosport's #36 (Jarett Andretti, Gabby Chaves and Glenn Van Berlo) and #74 run by Riley (Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and Josh Burdon).
• #30 and #74 were very soon locked in battle for first place in the category. As the end of the race approached, the gaps between the two cars grew smaller and smaller.
• Twenty minutes before the chequered flag, Garett Grist in #30 was all over Gar Robinson in the lead in #74 and the two cars made contact. #74 was damaged in the incident forcing Robinson to stop at his pit.
• Jr III Racing's #30 went on to score the last victory of the season followed by #74 run by Riley.
“What an absolutely incredible job by the team for the last three years,” Grist said. “It's the most fun I've had in racing and the best I've been physically and mentally, and I thank them for that – and all their hard work coming into the last race with such a great car. They never gave up and continued to put the effort in. I think we came here with the best car we've ever had. We put absolutely everything into it and it paid off. It's a great way to end the Jr lll Racing P3 era.”
• Riley sealed the championship title in the LMP3 category. In its three-year existence, the team has won two championship titles and filled the runner-up spot once in the IMSA WSCC LMP3 category.
“The championships and the wins and stuff are spectacular, but the lessons and the fun and the memories that I've had for the past three years are something that I'll get to love and enjoy and keep for the rest of my life,” Gar Robinson added. “I just have to give a huge thank you to everyone who supported me, IMSA, Ligier and Riley.”
It's the end of an era as the LMP3 category will no longer be part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. From next season on, the LMP3s will compete in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge support championship.
For the championship results, CLICK HERE.
For more information about the Ligier JS P320, CLICK HERE.