Last to First: Andrews, Kraut Celebrate IMSA Prototype Challenge Return with Sebring Victory
This article originally appeared at IMSA.com.
In the first IMSA Prototype Challenge race since Jan. 4 at Daytona International Speedway, Scott Andrews and Gerry Kraut charged from last on the starting grid and earned a strategic victory in the one-hour, 45-minute race at Sebring International Raceway
Because of a qualifying rainout and the fact that the team did not participate in the season opener, Kraut started from last on the grid but worked his way forward in a strong opening stint before pitting to hand the No. 9 JDC MotorSports Norma M30 over to Andrews. The timing of the pit stop turned out to be perfect, as Andrews found himself at the head of the field at the end of the pit-stop sequence.
Andrews then confidently pulled away from the field on a pair of restarts with under 30 minutes left in the race and cruised to victory by 14.810 seconds over Stevan McAleer in the No. 10 Robillard Racing Norma.
"The second caution would came out with an hour and thirteen minutes left after the number 11 car of Steven Thomas went too wide heading to the start/finish line and smacked the wall hard, ripping part of his left front nose off. The number 9 JDC MotorSports came to pit road as Scott Andrews took over for Gerry Kraut.
With under 30 minutes left, Scott Andrews led the field back to green . During the green-flag, Joel Janco spun around and could not get his car restarted, bringing out the fourth caution of the race. Once the race resumed, Andrews was gone, and Stevan McAleer and Matthew Bell were left fighting for second-place. Bell got loose, allowing McAleer to take sole possession of second place. Scott Andrews would go on to win the race by 14.810 seconds over Stevan McAleer." - JDC MotorSports Scott Andrews takes the checkered flag at Sebring
The duo’s previous best run together was a third-place showing last summer at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
"I’ve been coming to Sebring a lot, and it’s taken me a long time to figure it out, the track and the bumps, but I do love this place," Kraut said. "It’s very challenging, it’s very physical, and you need to respect it and let the car do its job for you. That’s what I’ve done since I’ve raced here."
McAleer and Joe Robillard wound up second in the No. 10 machine in what also was their first IMSA Prototype Challenge start of the season after a mechanical issue prevented them from competing at Daytona. McAleer held off a hard charging Matt Bell in the No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma in the closing laps to secure the runner-up spot.
Dakota Dickerson and Dom Cicero took fourth place in the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3, with Greg and Eric Palmer completing the top five in the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier.
Keith and David Grant capped an eventful race with a Bronze Cup class victory in the No. 40 Forty7 Motorsports Norma.
"We’re glad to be back racing, at least for a short while we were," said Keith Grant. "Yesterday was a challenge because it rained out our qualifying and we felt like we could’ve put the car on the pole and been able to pull a gap.
"Unfortunately, we didn’t do that and had to start at the back. I got the car up to the lead in the first stint, but not by much and then went through the pit stop. David came back out and just made a mistake passing somebody and the rest was history after that. Unfortunately, we ended up back in ninth."
It’ll be a much quicker turnaround between Rounds 2 and 3 for the IMSA Prototype Challenge as the series returns to action in two weeks at Road America.
"We had a great day of testing yesterday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with the Norma Automotive P3 car, I absolutely love this thing." ~ John Walko
Norma Auto Concept Engineering (or Norma) is a French manufacturer of racing cars based in Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre (in the Hautes Pyrenees - France) and founded by Norbert Santos in 1986.
The European Le Mans Series is a European series of endurance races reserved for cars such as "Le Mans Prototypes" and "Le Mans Grand Touring". In 2017, the ELMS presents three different categories : LMP2, LMP3, LMGTE.
In order to strengthen the pyramid of endurance racing which was introduced in 1999 by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, the ACO has launched in 2015 a new category of junior sports-prototype for endurance racing, LMP3.
In the pyramid of "Le Mans Prototypes," LMP3 becomes the first step on the ladder before moving up to the LMP2 and LMP1 classes (the latter in the FIA WEC and 24 Hours of Le Mans).
The thinking behind this car is that there should be fewest number of constraints possible, whether those are budgetary, technical, driving or operation. The sale price of the new car, complete, must not exceed €206,000.
The LMP3 is a closed car. The chassis and bodywork of LMP3 can be built by six manufacturers which have been designed by the ACO : Ginetta, Ligier, Adess, Dome, Riley and Norma. They are very close to those of the current LMP2 (closed cockpit, carbon chassis with tubular steel roll cage). The powertrain consist of a Nissan 420 bhp normally aspirated V8 engine, and an X-Trac gearbox. It is identical for all chassis, and marketed by the ORECA company which also provides specific assistance to teams.
To emphasise the driver development of the category, crews must include at least one bronze driver, gold drivers are only allowed in crews of three drivers and platinum drivers are not permitted to compete in LMP3. Driving times are also controlled with gold drivers only allowed to drive for 60-minutes during a 4-hour ELMS race giving more time at the wheel for the silver and bronze members of the crew.
JWR, wants to extend a Big thank you to Jeremiah Grenier, Russ Gaglio and Brian McGoldrick for looking after the car, Scott Andrews for wheeling the thing like he does, and Gerry Kraut and JDC MotorSports for making it happen.
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