There was a Cinderella story in the season finale for the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda at Road Atlanta.
In the final event for the longtime Elan DP02 chassis – which has been around since the series’ inception in 2006 and made up the MPC class in 2018 – it was a driver who was around for the car’s first start that won in its final.
Jon Brownson called it an “honor” to see the car out, winning the race for Eurosport Racing to score his first series championship.
But as remarkable as the race win and series championship were for the veteran, how he accomplished the feat at Road Atlanta is just as remarkable.
Even before arriving at the track, the odds weren’t in Brownson’s favor.
He entered the weekend fifth in points, six out of the class lead, as part of one of the tightest points battles in recent memory with the top seven separated by a total of nine points. He was also winless on the season with two podium finishes in five starts to date.
With zero margin for error, his title hopes seemingly went up in smoke when a mechanical issue in the final practice session Thursday relegated the team to start shotgun on the 27-car field Friday morning when the car couldn’t make it out for qualifying.
After a remarkable drive through the field, though, along with a perfect storm of the top contenders falling victim to various mechanical issues or incidents, Brownson found himself in the lead in the closing laps of the one-hour, 45-minute race.
While he would go on to score the victory, it’s worth noting that even in the closing laps one mistake would have cost him the championship.
The eventual MPC points runner-up No. 28 Wolf Motorsports entry of Bart Wolf and Tazio Ottis finished second and a change in position between the two would have given the title to Wolf and Ottis.
In the end, it was Brownson who fended off the duo by 8.252 seconds to win the title by two points, 172-170.
“We had a car that was ready to go and I was just fortunate to be the guy driving it,” said Brownson. “Thanks to my crew and Eurosport Racing. It was a great race and it’s so good to go out on a high note with the MPC car today.”
The evolving and rapidly growing IMSA Prototype Challenge series shifts to an LMP3-only format in 2019, along with three-hour races at Daytona International Speedway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, as part of its six-race schedule.
Brownson is excited for the direction of the IMSA Prototype Challenge series and the opportunity to move up to the LMP3 class.
“It’s a wonderful way to end the season and see this car out,” he said. “I look forward to moving up to the LMP3 next year and taking on the challenges that presents. A brave new world coming.”