IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Returns To Action At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Thursday, July 5, 2018

By the time the green flag flies for Round 4 of the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, it will have been 77 days since the series last raced at Barber Motorsports Park.

As the series enters its second half, here is a look back at the first half of the season, a look ahead at the final three races, and key storylines entering the series’ lone Canadian date on the schedule this weekend.

Looking Back:

New Endurance Format Debuts At Daytona – The IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda kicked off its season at Daytona International Speedway for the first time with a total of 25 cars – including 13 LMP3s – eager to take on the track’s famed high banks. The race – which took place on the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 weekend – was the series’ first one hour, 45-minute endurance race and was won overall by 16-year-old Roman De Angelis driving the No. 4 Ligier JS P3 for ANSA Motorsports.

Central Florida-based neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Masson took home the win in the MPC class driving the No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports entry and has since leveraged that momentum to lead the class standings coming into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

House Delivers Historic Victory At Sebring – Dave House became the oldest winner in IMSA history with an impressive victory at Sebring International Raceway just days after his 75th birthday. His race included a hard-fought battle with Daytona winner Dr. Masson, who later ran into mechanical issues. Through three races, the two are first and second in the MPC standings, with six drivers separated by a mere eight points.

LMP3 Class Gaining Momentum – Coming off an impressive season-opener at Daytona, a record number of 17 LMP3s were entered at Sebring International Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park. Leo Lamelas and Pato O’Ward scored the victory at Sebring in the No. 7 Charles Wicht Racing Ligier JS P3 with O’Ward charging through the field on a late-race restart for the win.

The class next raced at Barber Motorsports Park with Kris Wright establishing himself as a title contender, leading all but one session and winning from the pole with co-driver Yann Clairay in the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3.

Close Competition, Parity Through Three Races – With increasing car counts and unprecedented competition there is yet to be a repeat winner in either of the two IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda classes. In the LMP3 class, points-leader Wright is the lone driver to finish on the podium in each of the first three races. Michal Chlumecky’s win in the MPC class at Barber for Eurosport Racing made it three different winners in that class, with Dr. Masson being the only driver with two podiums to date.

Looking Ahead:

Championship Battles Up In The Air – It’s impossible to predict who will leave Road Atlanta this October as IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda champion. Wright’s impressive podium streak gives him a six-point cushion, 95-89, but he has Sebring winner Lamelas hot on his heels coming off a third-place effort at Barber. The No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30 and driver Austin McCusker, and the No. 3 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 and driver Max Hanratty sit in a tie for third, 17 points back.

In the MPC class, it’s even tighter with Dr. Masson looking to hold off House, and Wolf Motorsports drivers Bart Wolf and Tazio Ottis. The three drivers sit a mere two points behind Dr. Masson, 88-86, with Performance Tech’s Stephen Dawes, Eurosport Racing’s Jon Brownson and ONE Motorsports’ Paul LaHaye also within 10 points.

Masson’s Team Up – With the MPC championship race as tight as its ever been, Dr. Masson will have an assist from son and former series champion Kyle Masson for the remainder of the season. The 20-year-old IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver will join his father in the No. 11 Mazda-powered Masson Spine Institute Elan DP02 beginning this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Forty7 Motorsports Looking To Break Through – Forty7 Motorsports has been among the fastest teams in the LMP3 class all season with Austin McCusker scoring the pole at Daytona in the No. 47 Norma M30, followed one race later by TJ Fischer in the same car at Sebring. The No. 47 finished second at each of the first two races, while the team’s No. 74 Norma M30 – run in collaboration with Alianza Motorsports – finished second at Barber. With three runner-up finishes through three races, will the first win come at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park?

Masters Battle Heating Up – The points battles aren’t just tight in the LMP3 and MPC classes. P1 Motorsports’ Jim Garrett holds a two-point lead over Gary Gibson in LMP3 Masters, taking the top spot from Gibson at Barber. Five drivers are separated by 10 points with Joel Janco, Rob Hodes and Cameron Cassels also in contention.

Entry List Notebook:

A total of 23 cars, including 16 LMP3s, are on the entry list for this weekend’s race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Here are some key storylines as the series IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda returns this weekend.

Zellers Making Series Debut – Five Miles Out Racing, which debuted at Barber Motorsports Park, will be joined at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park by a driver making her series debut this weekend. 21-year-old Hannah Zellers has come from a diverse career in open-wheel and NASCAR K&N Series competition, and will co-drive the team’s No. 87 Norma M30 with Jay Howard.

“Hanna recently tested with the team and we were all very impressed,” said team owner Charles Chi. “Not only is she a competitive driver, she is a natural FMO Racing ambassador: she’s humble, genuine, and a no-excuses, hard-working team player. We are delighted she’s on the team.”

Schwab Out With Injury – Daytona MPC class pole winner Wyatt Schwab will miss this weekend’s race in the No. 18 Performance Tech Motorsports entry after suffering a broken left hand in a boating accident.

“You hate for anything bad to happen during a season or at all," O'Neill said. "Accidents happen though, and you can't account for all of them. He's a young guy, Wyatt will bounce back in no time. I'm sure he'll put in the work on his sim and be ready for a fight at VIR. We all wish him well and will be happy to see him back in the No. 18 soon."

De Angelis Returns – Roman De Angelis won in his lone IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda start this season at Daytona before focusing on Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge competition in both the USA and Canada. While he won that race driving for ANSA Motorsports, he will drive for Charles Wicht Racing and championship contender Leo Lamelas at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Hindman Adds Another Series To His List – Trent Hindman is expected to make his season debut in Performance Tech Motorsports’ No. 75 Ligier JS P3 alongside Cameron Cassels. Hindman already has made starts this season in both the WeatherTech Championship and the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, where he competes full-time.