The opportunity to race in the only prototype action this weekend at his home track – VIRginia International Raceway – was too good to pass up, so Mike Skeen is back for his second IMSA Prototype Challenge race of the season.
Skeen is rejoining Jr III Racing for Sunday’s three-hour race on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course some 45 minutes from where the native Virginian grew up. Skeen, along with co-driver Terry Olson, finished second overall for Jr III in the Prototype Challenge race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May. It was Skeen’s third podium finish in five career series starts.
In 2019, Skeen won at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and finished second at VIR driving for Gilbert/Korthoff Motorsports. The 34-year-old is pulling double duty this weekend, also driving a GT Daytona entry for Gilbert/Korthoff in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race on Saturday. He’s relishing the challenge of driving two completely different race cars this weekend.
“It’s a little tricky, but fortunately I have a lot of experience jumping between different cars and picking them up quickly,” said Skeen, the reigning Trans Am TA2 champion who has 25 career WeatherTech Championship starts under his belt. “It also helps that we’ve done a little testing with the IPC car, so I’m pretty familiar with that and it shouldn’t be too hard to get back into it and get back to speed.”
Skeen is paired in the No. 3 Ligier JS P320 with Marc Sharinn, who’s looking to make his Prototype Challenge debut for a second time after mechanical issues prevented him from taking the green flag at Watkins Glen International in July.
“We’ve tested with him a bit and he’s getting used to the car,” Skeen said of Sharinn, who turned minimal practice laps at Watkins Glen. “Certainly, this is the highest-level racing he’s done. It will be interesting to see how he does, but we’re really not putting a whole lot of pressure on ourselves.”
There is pressure atop the Prototype Challenge standings with just two races remaining. Moritz Kranz holds a narrow 10-point lead in Le Mans Prototype 3-1 (LMP3-1) heading into the VIR weekend. He’s raced with a co-driver in two races and driven solo in two, winning one race each way in the No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine D08.
Right behind Kranz in the points are No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier co-drivers Dakota Dickerson and Josh Sarchet, who have finished on the podium in all four 2021 races and won at Watkins Glen.
In the LMP3-2 class for previous-generation cars, George Staikos and Danny Kok will clinch the season crown by starting in Sunday’s race.
The Prototype Challenge schedule features a practice on Friday afternoon and another Saturday morning, ahead of qualifying at 4:35 p.m. ET Saturday. The race streams live at 8:45 a.m. Sunday on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.