(image courtesy of IMSA / Galstad)
The IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda is in its 2nd year with the LMP3 machinery and its first year holding endurance races. This series saw some great racing in sprint format this year and with the LMP3 platform gaining traction stateside it should mean good things to come in 2018.
This data was compiled from all sessions from the entire weekend.
2018 is scheduled to be the final year for the old IMSA Lites platform, the Elan DP02. In 2017 there was quite a bit of overlap between the LMP3 and MPC fields. For 2018 the MPC cars were slowed to create a gap between the classes and the top end of the MPC class was incredibly close. The top 4 cars were within 2 mph of each other through the speed trap and within 0.5 seconds on average lap time.
The LMP3 class is nearly a spec Ligier JS P3 show but the Norma M30 (which won the championship last year) and the Ave-Riley AR-2 have something to say about that. The top 9 in class were separated by only 1.3 seconds on average lap time and about 2.5 mph through the speed trap. The Norma and Ave seemed to hold a slight advantage through the speed trap, posting quick times through Sectors 4-6 and 8-9. The big surprise to me is the top end speed of the Ave-Riley. The car looks like it should have the drag coefficient of a bus but it was almost a full mph clear of the majority of the field. Through the corners it was the Ligiers that had the advantage.
As mentioned earlier there was some BoP adjustments to the MPC class to slow them down. The gap at Daytona seemed pretty solid. Some of the twister tracks later in the season might see the MPC cars be a little closer but still behind the LMP3 cars.