Thursday is rarely seen as race day, but with a packed schedule this weekend from Sebring the IMSA Prototype Challenge was the first of four series to hold a race on ‘Super Sebring’ week.
The #43 Robillard Racing Norma M30 driven the full race by Stevan McAleer took home the win. That #43 Norma was able to run longer on their first stint as there was no second driver who needed to meet the minimum drive time of 45 minutes.
This allowed McAleer to leapfrog the #47 Forty 7 Motorsports Norma M30 of Rodrigo Pflucker and Austin McCusker. Pflucker started the race from pole position and held the lead for much of the race’s first half. The car was soon handed over to McCusker for the second half of the race but he had to settle for second after he was unable to reel in the #43 Robillard Racing Norma.
Rounding out the podium was the #26 K2R Motorsports Ligier JSP3 of James McGuire and Matt Bell. They inherited that third place after the #23 Alianza Gilbert Motorsports Norma M30 came to a stop in the race’s waning minutes. Matthew Bell is no stranger to the Ligier JS P3 having competed with United Autosports in the European Le Mans Series for years and in the Asian Le Mans Series this past winter.
The race saw just three Full-Course Yellows over the course of the one hour and forty-five minute race, with the only series one involving the #53 PR1 Mathiasen Ligier JS P3. The IMSA LMP2 regulars were making their debut in the IPC with Mike Guasch and Scott Huffaker.
Near the race’s halfway point Guasch went off at the exit of turn one, making contact with the tire barriers and sustaining relatively heavy rear-end damage.
Under the FCY that was called for Guasch’s incident the #2 Ansa Motorsports JS P3 hit the rear of the #19 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier. Tim George was behind-the-wheel of the #2 Ligier when it appeared he was caught off guard by the slow train of cars ahead of him. That was the end of the day for the #2 Ligier, but the #19 Ligier was able to be nursed back to the pits.
Pflucker and McCusker as a result of their second place finish move into the lead of the championship. The #4 Ansa Motorsports Ligier JS P3, who entered this race as the points leaders fell victim to contact early on after starting on the front row of the grid.
The next round of the championship for the IPC teams will be on May 3-5 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.