IMSA WeatherTech: Third consecutive Ligier JS P320 podium at Mid-Ohio
Sunday 15th May 2022 – Fastest laps in free practice, third pole position on the bounce, third 100% Ligier JS P320 podium on the trot and fastest lap in the race! After a hiatus of almost two months, the Ligier JS P320 continued where it had left off in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which hosted the third round of the championship.
The weekend on the Mid-Ohio circuit kicked off on Friday 13th May with a 100% Ligier JS P320 top six in the first free practice session. #54 run by CORE Autosport (Jon Bennett and Colin Braun) set the fastest time in 1m 17.603s. The next day #54 again topped the time sheets in the second session. It improved its time to 1m 16.630s followed by five more Ligier JS P320s.
100% Ligier JS P320 front rows
On Saturday 14th May, the Ligier JS P320 shone in the qualifying session by monopolising the first six places in the category. #36 entered by Andretti Autosport (Jarett Andretti and Gabby Chaves) clinched their second pole position of the season thanks to Jarett Andretti. He set the fastest lap of the LMP3s in 1m 17.104s. #58 run by MLT Motorsports (Dakota Dickerson and Josh Sarchet) was second ahead of #38 entered by Performance Tech Motorsports (Dan Goldburg and Rasmus Lindh) in third.
The start of the 2h 40m race was given on Sunday 15th May. The #36 Andretti Autosport Ligier JS P320 held on to the lead while Performance Tech Motorsports #38 and Riley Motorsports #74 (Gar Robinson and Felipe Fraga) each pulled back a place. #38 was second and #74 third. After 45 minutes racing #36 and #38 were separated by just over a second. A few minutes later, #33 entered by Sean Creech Motorsport (Joao Barbosa and Lance Willsey) spun and lost a lap to the other competitors. At the same moment, #38 closed the gap and shot past #36 to snatch the lead of the race.
The #36 Andretti Autosport Ligier JS P320 won't relinquish the lead!
Once the pit stops were completed the #36 Ligier JS P320 was back in first place in LMP3 hotly pursued by #38 and #74 both targeting the topmost step of the podium. Behind came #58 run by MLT Motorsports and Jr III Racing's #30 (Ari Balogh and Garett Grist). The #54 CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320 was sixth and #33 entered by Sean Creech Motorsport seventh.
Just when the #38 Ligier JS P320 was closing in on its rival it stopped on the side of the track because of an electric problem bringing out a yellow flag. This provided an opportunity for #74 to close the gap to #36 and take the lead briefly before making another pit stop.
CORE Autosport score their first victory of the season
With an hour of the race remaining the lead changed hands yet again. The #54 CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320 took first place from Andretti Autorsport's #36 and Jr III Racing's #30. Half-an-hour later, #36 fell back to fourth after being passed by #30 and then by #74.
CORE Autosport clinched their first victory of the season in the IMSA WeatherTech with a lap in hand over the other prototypes in its category. “Winning never gets old. I'm so proud of our team. I think my favorite victories are when everyone gets to participate; we had great pit stops, great strategy, great drive from Colin who was magic inside the race car. I'm really happy for the team.” said Jon Bennett.
After contact with the #30 Ligier JS P320, #74 crossed the finishing line in second place. But it was given a penalty after the race and was finally classified just shy of the podium behind #30 and #36. #38 run by Performance Tech Motorsports finished seventh and left Mid-Ohio having set the fastest lap of the race in a time of 1m 18.267s.
The fourth round of the championship will take place on 23 - 26 June at the Watkins Glen 6 Hours meeting on the eponymous circuit in the state of New York.
For the full results, CLICK HERE.
For more information about the Ligier JS P320, CLICK HERE.
Photo credit: Jake Galstad