Racing is back and it’s the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda that kicks off the 2018 North American motorsports calendar with its season-opening event this Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
A total of 25 prototypes are set to embark in the historic event that features several firsts for the series.
Not only is the race a part of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 weekend for the first time, it is the inaugural event for the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda at Daytona and the first with its new 1-hour, 45 minutes endurance race format. The race can be seen live on IMSA.com at 1:25 p.m. ET.
Entered are a total of 13 LMP3s from a trio of constructors, with the Norma M30 of Forty 7 Motorsports and the Ave-Riley AR2 of Ave Motorsports joining 11 Ligier JS P3s.
Among those are a trio of entries apiece from P1 Motorsports and Extreme Speed Motorsports, as well as entries from ANSA Motorsports, Charles Wicht Racing, Gilbert LMP3 Racing, K2R Motorsports and Performance Tech Motorsports.
The longstanding MPC class that uses the Elan DP02 chassis powered by Mazda engines also returns with 12 entries, including four from Performance Tech Motorsports, three from Eurosport Racing, two apiece from ODU Motorsports and ONE Motorsports, and a solo entry from Wolf Motorsports.
The new endurance format will allow teams to run a single or two-driver combination with a required pit stop.
“I think that’s what the series needs as it is kind of the feeder into WeatherTech [SportsCar Championship],” said Corey Lewis, who will co-drive alongside Matt Dicken in the No. 17 P1 Motorsports Ligier JS P3.
“You get the feel for what the WeatherTech show is like and having experienced that series and now bringing up the drivers and teams, I think it is a real good thing for the series overall that IMSA put together.”
“Yeah, I think it’s awesome,” added Robby Foley, who will co-drive P1 Motorsports’ No. 42 entry with Jim Garrett.
“Especially for myself, looking to move up, the endurance format is nice because going to WeatherTech or something like that, you’ll be in an endurance format. … It’s good practice for the future for me hopefully.”
The race rounds out a jam-packed weekend for IMSA at Daytona. Joining the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda are the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, each with several test sessions which serve as a prelude to the Rolex 24 At Daytona later this month.
Race day events for fans of the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda include a fan walk on the grid prior to the event at 12:45 p.m. and an autograph session in the UNOH Fanzone at 10:30 a.m.