Nico Jamin has gone down in the history books as the first winner of an IMSA-sanctioned LMP3 race, with the Mazda Road to Indy star dominating Thursday’s opening round of the new-look Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series at Sebring.
Jamin took his No. 20 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3 to a 11.789-second victory over the No. 12 Performance Tech entry of Andres Gutierrez, in a caution-free 45-minute race.
The Frenchman, who was a late call-up to the Florida-based team, led from flag-to-flag in commanding fashion, helping lead a 1-2-3 sweep of the overall podium for Onroak Automotive-built prototypes.
“I had Gutierrez in the back at the beginning,” Jamin said. “I was just managing the tires because I knew it would be a long race… so I was just managing them and then it was all about getting through traffic as fast as possible.
“It all went very well. I think everybody had a really great behavior on the track, letting me by and everything.
“That was very nice and I’m very happy to take the win for ANSA.”
While Jamin stretched out an early lead, the battle for the final podium position overall heated up between Lonnie Pechnik’s No. 17 P1 Motorsports Ligier and the Mazda Prototype Challenge class Performance Tech Elan DP02 of Kyle Masson.
Pechnik held on to third overall, taking top honors in Masters, with 19-year-old Masson fourth and scoring the MPC class win, in impressive fashion.
Masson, who claimed Prototype Challenge class honors in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, led home the No. 3 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier of Naj Husain, who completed the top-five overall.
The leading MPC cars were constantly in the mix with LMP3 machinery.
“Obviously, all the LMP3s passed us at the start and it was frustrating because there were P3 cars slower, lap-time wise so I spent the first five, six laps or so stuck behind them and being pitted against the JDC car,” Masson said.
“I had to do my best to get in front of those P3s so then I could pull away from the guy who was my competition.”
Colin Thompson, one of the pre-race favorites, spun his debuting Norma M30 on the second lap, before coming to a halt on the front-straight on Lap 12 with suspected mechanical issues for the Kelly Moss Road and Race entry.
The best non-Ligier LMP3 was the No. 44 Ave Motorsports Ave-Riley AR-2 of Paul Fix, finishing eighth in class, 13th overall.
Race 2 is set for 10:45 a.m. on Friday
RESULTS: Race 1