Wednesday, Feb 08

Season Class Preview: LMP3 Chase Wide Open

IMSA Wire Friday, Jan 13 454

It’s a new season and vastly new competitive outlook for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class, with a full lineup of cars competing for both the season title and the coveted IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup (IMEC) crown.

 

With five-time and defending series champion CORE autosport not returning, the competitive outlook widens for the half-dozen teams hoping to raise the Bishop France Trophy at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta season finale this October.

 

The No. 74 Riley Motorsports team is unquestionably among the preseason favorites to contend for the title. The trio of Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and Kay van Berlo captured the 2022 IMEC driver and team championships, while Robinson – the 2021 LMP3 season driver champion – finished runner-up for that title in 2022. The team secured wins at Watkins Glen and Road America last year and also got new watches for winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the second consecutive year. Robinson and Fraga will pair once again in 2023 and be joined at the Rolex 24 by another van Berlo – Kay’s brother Glenn – as well as Josh Burdon.

 

It will be a familiar pairing in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport entry with 2022 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winners Joao Barbosa and Lance Willsey. Veteran driver Barbosa – a three-time Rolex 24 overall winner – and Willsey will race for the championship with Nico Pino and Danny Soufi joining for the Rolex 24.

 

Other fulltime entries making up the challenge for the title include the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320, the No. 87 FastMD Racing Duqueine D08 and a two-car Duqueine effort from AWA.

                                             

After adding a second car at the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans last year, AWA will field two cars for the full 2023 LMP3 season. The No. 13 returns the lineup of Orey Fidani, Matthew Bell and Lars Kern, along with Moritz Kranz as the fourth wheelman at Daytona. Its sister car, the No. 17, will see Anthony Mantella and Wayne Boyd for the full season with Nico Varrone as the endurance driver. The team has enlisted 2021 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) winner Thomas Merrill for the Rolex 24 as well.

 

While the Rolex 24 doesn’t award overall season points for the LMP3 class, the nine entered cars will earn points toward the IMEC championship consisting of the enduros at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Michelin Raceway. Among those competing for the IMEC crown is the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier, which collected its first win at the Motul Petit Le Mans in October.

 

Jarett Andretti returns to head the driver lineup, joined at Daytona by a pair of drivers, Gabby Chaves and Rasmus Lindh, who drove for the team in 2022 as well. Dakota Dickerson, the 2021 IMSA Prototype Challenge champion, fills out the No. 36 lineup for the Rolex 24.

 

JDC-Miller MotorSports is entering the Rolex 24 in LMP3 while the team awaits delivery of its Porsche 963 to compete in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class later this season. Till Bechtolsheimer, Mason Filippi, Luca Mars and Tijmen van der Helm will drive the No. 85 Duqueine at Daytona.

 

The No. 43 MRS GT-Racing entry is also entered for the Rolex 24 but has yet to announce a driver lineup.

 

Always a class to watch, LMP3 is poised to feature another season of big names, close racing and all the intrigue that consistently makes it a class of compelling competition.

 

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