Tuesday, January 26, 2021

2021 Daytona 24 Hours - LMP3 Class Preview

With the GTLM class out of the way, it's time for our second class, in order of "least interesting (to me)" to "most interesting (to me)". For this year, that's the new-to-IMSA WeatherTech Series class, LMP3. This class was introduced a couple of years ago as a de facto replacement for the old LMPC class, except that it was mostly used as a sprint race support series. Now, to bolster car counts in the top series in these economically challenging times, it's been brought into the "big leagues". As they mentioned several times during the "Roar Before" Pole 100 race this last Sunday, there is the slight issue that this type of car has never been asked to run 24 full hours in race conditions......but, hey, details, amirite? Let's get to it:

The Pack

#33 Sean Creech Motorsports Ligier JS P320 - Sure, they've got former overall champ Joao Barbosa in the driving lineup, but my thinking here boils down to two words: new team. However, in such a new class, these are all complete dart throws. Odds - 9 to 1.
#38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320 - Features Road to Indy driver Rasmus Lindh and longtime LMPC/LMP2 competitor Cameron Cassels, but I can't say a ton about the other two young drivers (Mateo Llarena and Ayrton Ori, who at least has a fantastic name). It wouldn't be a total shock to seem them take the class, but I think other teams are far more likely. Odds - 8 to 1.
#91 Riley Motorsports Ligier  JS P320 - Jeroen Bleekemolen headlines the driving squad, but the rest of the drivers are either under-30 Silvers or Bronzes. A win might be more than could be expected. Quite a bit more. Odds - 7 to 1.
#7 Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine D08 - A couple of Indy Lights graduates ("Flyin'" Ryan Norman and the criminally underrated Gabby Chaves) anchor the driving lineup, but Mark Kvamme and Charles Finelli are both Bronzes (although both bring years of experience to the table). Expect to see Chaves in the car and hustling as much as possible in the waning hours of the afternoon...so long as the car is still on the track. Odds - 7 to 1.

The Front Runners

#6 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine D08 - I wouldn't have thought much about this car and these guys...except that Moritz Kranz and Laurents Hoerr easily won the pole for the class at the Roar Before Pole 100, and they've apparently got plenty of experience in this car in the Prototype Challenge series. They've added former LMPC class champ Kenton Koch as their third driver, and although their fourth driver has yet to be named at press time, this feels like a pretty stout combo. Odds - 5 to 1.
#74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 - It's the "other" Riley Motorsports car, and with talented youngster Gar Robinson and IndyCar drivers Oliver Askew and Spencer Pigot in the lineup, this car should fly (although I can't say I know a ton about the fourth driver, Scott Andrews). This feels like one of the clear favorites going into the event. Odds - 5 to 1.
#54 CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320 - Zillion time LMPC class champ and former Porsche GTLM factory squad CORE Autosport is back this year after a year away, and longtime drivers Colin Braun and Jon Bennett know how to get the job done here. Matt McMurry is always seriously fast in any kind of sports car and George Kurtz looks to be solid as well. I think this is the team to beat. Odds - 4 to 1.
And just like that, we've got two classes done! We've still got two prototype classes and one massive GT class to go. Will I get any of those previews done in any kind of cohesive manner? Probably not! But, maybe! Come on back and find out!

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