IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

IMSA WeatherTech – The Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320s score a double podium at Mid-Ohio

14 - 16 May - The third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship took place on the Mid-Ohio circuit with six Ligier JS P320s on the grid. Victory went to the pole sitting #74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320. Into second came the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports JS P320 pursued by #91, the second Riley Motorsports entry, which also set the fastest lap in the race.

The #54 CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320 driven by Jon Bennett and Colin Braun dominated the first free practice session on Friday 14th May setting the fastest time in 1m 17.240s. The next day the #91 Riley Motorsports JS P320 in the hands of Jim Cox and Dylan Murry topped the time sheets with a best lap in 1m 16.606s.

On Saturday afternoon another Ligier shone in qualifying,  #74 entered by Riley Motorsports  for Gar Robinson and Felipe Fraga who was having his first outing in a sports prototype clinched pole with a fastest lap in 1m 17.246s. The second-quickest of the LMP3s was #54 run by CORE Autosport.  Less than one-hundredth-of-a-second separated it from #36 entered by Andretti Autosport and driven by Jarett Andretti and Oliver Askew, which clinched third place on the grid.

The start to the 2h 40m race was given on Sunday 16th May. The #74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 that started from pole had a flawless race and scored its second victory of the season after winning the 24 Hours of Daytona in January. It was among the front-runners during the first part of the race and took the lead after the pit stops. The team was able to count on Felipe Fraga's experience in dealing with traffic on the track.  #74 sealed victory with two seconds in hand over its closest rival, #38 run by Performance Tech Motorsports and crewed by Rasmus Lindh and Dan Goldburg .

In fact, the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320 staged an amazing comeback. An engine problem before the start of the race forced the team to replace its chassis by the one from #6 entered in the IMSA Prototype Challenge, after it finished that race in the morning. This last-minute change resulted in a heavy penalty for the team and #38 had to start from the back of the grid. Dan Goldburg drove a great first stint picking off his rivals one by one and taking over the lead after only 45 minutes racing.  The car emerged in second place after the round of pit stops and it tried to catch #74 leading the LMP3 category, but got snarled up in traffic on the track and had to settle for second.

Riley Motorsports' #91 took the chequered flag in third place giving the American team a double podium finish. It also set the fastest lap of the LMP3s in the race in a time of 1m 17.488s.

After starting second of the LMP3s, the #54 CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320 had to be content with fourth place just shy of the podium.  #33 run by Sean Creech Motorsport and driven by Lance Willsey and Joao Barbosa came home fifth after a penalty nullified Willsey's efforts to fight his way up through the field in his first stint. The #36 Andretti Autosport JS P320 having its first outing in the American Championship was hit by a mechanical glitch and finished in sixth spot.

The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will take place on the Watkins Glen International circuit on 1 - 2 July.

To consult the full results CLICK HERE.

Photo credit: Jake Galstad