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Forty7 Motorsports Norma Wins Michelin Encore at Sebring

Nunez resists late Boyd challenge to win Encore non-championship race at Sebring…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Tristan Nunez held off Wayne Boyd at the end of the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore to give the Forty7 Motorsports team victory at Sebring International Raceway.

Nunez, who shared the drive with Jonathan Jorge and Joel Janco, kept the No. 47 Norma M30 Nissan ahead of the No. 30 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P3 Nissan to win the four-hour non-championship race.

The Norma took the lead in the third hour as Jorges emerged from a pit cycle ahead of Boyd’s co-driver Naj Husain.

But the two cars remained close heading into the final hour and were kept together by a caution period that was lifted with just over half an hour to go.

By this point, Nunez had got into the Forty7 Norma while Boyd was at the wheel of the Sean Creech Ligier and the pair ran nose-to-tail until the checkered flag.

Despite closing in, Boyd couldn’t get near enough to mount a positional challenge, leaving Nunez to take the win by a margin of 0.877 seconds.

Close behind in third was the No. 43 Robillard Racing Norma of Joe Robillard and Steven McAleer.

The fourth and final LMP3 car to finish on the lead lap was the Ligier prepared by K2R Motorsports and driven by Jim McGuire, Matt Bell and Kay van Berlo.

The rest of the prototype runners came through behind the four-car GT3 battle which produced an entertaining scrap in the final hour.

Madison Snow led the way into the last round of pit stops but his Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo was leapfrogged by the Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, which was running in third as the quartet boxed.

A left-side only tire change gave Lawson Aschenbach the track position advantage as the Porsche 911 GT3 Rs of Jan Heylen and Spencer Pumpelly filed into second and third.

Two subsequent cautions saw Aschenbach lose all of the time he gained through his team’s strategy call, but the Riley driver – who teamed with Gar Robinson, managed to hold off Heylen for the win.

Heylen shared the Wright Motorsports Porsche with Ryan Hardwick and Maxwell Root, while Pumpelly brought the Black Swan Racing Porsche through in third after prior stints from Marc Miller and Tim Pappas.

After locking out the front row of the 18-car grid, the two Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier LMP3s faded to ninth and tenth overall.

Blake Mount consolidated his pole position by leading the opening handful of laps but was caught and overtaken by his teammate Cameron Cassels after 13 minutes.

Cassels drove the entirety of the first half and led for most of that time until Boyd executed a well-timed braking move down the inside at Turn 3.

As the race progressed, both Performance Tech cars slipped off the lead lap, while the No. 6 that Mount shared with Dan Goldburg and Baylor Griffin lost time with a spin which contributed to it finishing 46 seconds behind the sister No. 75 car.

Elsewhere, Riley Motorsports came away with a double victory as the North Carolina-based team won the GT4 class to add to its GT3 triumph.

Jim Cox and Dylan Murry dominated the four-car race after problems befell their two main challengers.

The PF Racing Ford Mustang led from pole in the opening 20 minutes but a brief off-track moment for Jade Buford enabled the Mercedes to get through, before it lost 15 laps to solve a steering issue that forced it to park on-track in hour three.

Turner Motorsport’s BMW M4 GT4 also looked a threat early on but it too stopped with a mechanical issue that brought out the fourth and final caution period of the day.

Second place went to the CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 which finished four laps down on the winning Mercedes.

RESULTS: IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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