The No. 74 Riley Motorsports team continues to own the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship LMP3 class by defending its Rolex 24 at Daytona title Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
Gar Robinson, who was last year’s LMP3 driver champion, joined Felipe Fraga, Kay van Berlo and Michael Cooper to claim class honors once again.
“There isn’t one race on the schedule that’s easy to win,” Robinson said. “But when you do it with the team like we have, with Bill Riley and all the guys back at the shop, and all the prep we do, it does generate the results.
“We did some old-school endurance racing last year, where you have to watch what is going on, take care of the car and bring it back to pit road the best we could. These LMP3s are amazing cars. This race felt more like a sprint race for 24 hours. We were all pushing.”
The winning car turned 723 laps over Daytona’s 3.56-mile road course with a margin of victory of one lap.
IMSA introduced the LMP3 class in 2021 and for Robinson it was like a duck to water. He won last year’s Rolex 24 then tacked on four more wins before claiming the inaugural championship. He has a series-leading six career LMP3 wins. Fraga, who took the car to the checkered flag, has five.
“It was a very special day for me,” Fraga said. “They won this race last year and I was supposed to be here, but I couldn’t get into the country because of Covid-19. It hurt a lot for me to stay at home and watch. I’m so glad this year I am here. This has been the best day of my life.”
The No. 74 went to lead for good at the 20-hour, 28-minute mark (612 laps) with van Berlo at the wheel.
The No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320 driven by Joao Barbosa, Seb Priaulx, Lance Willsey and Malthe Jakobsen secured second-place honors in this hard-fought battle. Barbosa is a four-time Rolex 24 winner.
Rounding out the podium was the No. 54 CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320 of Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, George Kurtz and Nic Jonsson.
The No. 54 was heading toward a second-place finish, possibly challenging for the lead, but was penalized with a drive-through penalty after passing under the yellow flag with about 30 minutes left on the clock.
The penalty allowed the No. 33 car to move up to second place. The No. 54 finished two laps behind the class winner.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season resumes March 16-19 with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts at Sebring International Raceway.