In a weekend of firsts for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, 16-year-old Roman De Angelis scored an historic first of his own Saturday, winning the series’ inaugural race at Daytona International Speedway in his series debut in the No. 4 Ligier JS P3 for ANSA Motorsports.
The season-opening race, which took place on the annual Roar Before the 24 weekend, was the series’ first one hour, 45-minute endurance race. The new-for-2018 format allows teams to run a single or two-driver combination with a required minimum-time pit stop.
While the format was new to everyone, the entire experience was new to De Angelis who, despite winning the IMSA-sanctioned Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Gold Cup class championship and nearly the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series in 2017, had never been in a high-downforce car.
“I did a test with ANSA at Sebring and the Daytona test last month, but this is my first race in a prototype in general,” said De Angelis.
“I can’t be happier, I’m speechless. I don’t know how many times winning at Daytona is going to happen, so it’s pretty remarkable.”
De Angelis started the race from the eighth position and quickly moved through the field. It wasn’t until a series of pit stops with 53 minutes remaining that he took the lead and never looked back.
The No. 47 Forty 7 Motorsports Norma M30 of pole winner Austin McCusker and David Droux finished second, 4.511 seconds back. McCusker led the entire first stint before losing the lead on pitstops.
Droux made a final challenge in the final laps, closing the deficit from over 10 seconds, but ran out of time. Rounding out the podium was the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 of Kris Wright and Daniel Morad.
Gary Gibson cruised to the win in LMP3 Masters in the Ave Motorsports-prepared No. 44 Ave-Riley AR2 co-driven by Josh Hurley.
Central Florida Doctor Robert Masson Wins in First Start at Home Track
Nearly one year after his son won the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s former PC class, Dr. Robert Masson of Windermere, Florida, scored the victory in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series debut at his home track of Daytona International Speedway.
Masson won in the No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports entry in the Mazda Prototype Challenge class.
It was a special win for the Central Florida-based neurosurgeon who had quite the cheering section this weekend.
“I had a lot of friends, family, patients, a lot of people I know from the hospital in Orlando where I work, so we had a lot of representation,” he said.
“Until about 20 minutes ago, I didn’t remember this is almost an anniversary for Kyle winning. Now, here I am and now Kyle is in the big class in the Prototype [in the WeatherTech Championship] so it’s unbelievable.
“Last year I said was the year of my life with my kid on track, but we’re off to a good start this year.”
Stuart Rettie finished second in the No. 21 ODU Motorsports Elan DP02, while the duo of Bart Wolf and Tazio Ottis rounded out the podium in the Wofl Motorsports Elan DP02.
The race will be televised on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. on FS2.