Matt McMurry’s quest to become the youngest-ever driver to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans became one step closer last weekend when the 16-year-old turned his first laps in a Le Mans-style prototype at Palm Beach International Raceway.
The second-generation driver ran more than 140 laps in Performance Tech Motorsports’ Oreca FLM09 on Saturday and Sunday and proved to be a quick learner.
The high school sophomore’s best time of 1:10.975 was just over one-tenth of a second slower than team veteran Rafa Matos’ quickest lap, which stood as a benchmark.
“This was a low key, no pressure test, and Matt came in here and exceeded everyone’s expectations,” said team owner Brent O’Neill. “He was doing things you would expect from the most experienced drivers. He was within a tenth of the best time our car has ever run at PBIR.”
McMurry, who has quickly moved through the Skip Barber and USF2000 ranks, made his IMSA Prototype Lites debut last year and completed the final six races with Performance Tech.
He also spent time at the test in the a Performance Tech Lites car, improving the team’s best-ever time by more than six-tenths, while turning laps in night conditions for the first time as well.
“It sure was nice to have power-steering and paddle shifting,” McMurry said. “The PC experience was similar in some ways, and different in others. The awesome braking, downforce and corner entry speeds were like the Prototype Lites car I’ve driven.
“What was different was that the car feels heavier, the throttle isn’t linear and the locked differential required more patience than I’m used to out of some corners.”
McMurry is aiming to compete in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, in a bid to become the youngest driver to start the twice-around-the-clock French endurance classic. That record currently belongs to Ricardo Rodriguez, who was 17 years, 4 months and 4 days old when he took part in the race in 1959.
It’s understood that negotiations are underway for a drive with a LMP2 team, which could also include other races.