Roman De Angelis, driving the #4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3, won the opening round of the 2018 IMSA prototype Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.
Pushing De Angelis all the way to the line was David Droux in the #47 Forty 7 Motorsports Norma M30, a car he shared with Austin McCusker.
Taking the final podium position in the LMP3 class was the #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 driven by a hard-charging Daniel Morad in the second stint and started by Kris Wright.
The MPC class was won by Dr Robert Masson in the #11 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02. The victory for Dr Masson, the renowned neurosurgeon and father of Kyle Masson, was his first in the IMSA Prototype Challenge.
Second in the MPC class, and 10.885 seconds behind Dr Masson at the line, was Scottish driver Stuart Rettie in #21 ODU Motorsports entry.
Third on the class podium was Tazio Ottis in the #28 Wolf Motorsports entry he shared with team owner Bart Wolf.
The LMP3 class saw drama as early as the formation lap when Lance Willsey, starting the #33 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier which he qualified in fifth position, spun, dropping him down the order on the opening lap.
The first lap saw a battle between pole-sitter Austin McCusker in the #47 Forty 7 Motorsports Norma M30 and Michael Whelden in the #3 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier which saw Whelden briefly snatch the lead before McCusker took it back as the cars crossed the line at the end of lap one.
Whelden held on to second place until a spin just before the one-hour mark saw the #3 car relegated to fourth.
McCusker, meanwhile, held the held the lead up to the driver changes, handing the car over to David Droux who rejoined the race in third place.
After the driver changes had cycled through it was De Angelis in the #4 ANSA Motorsports entry that had the lead with Droux, who had moved up to second, pushing hard. Droux pulled the gap down to De Angelis to less than six seconds but De Angelis remained calm to take the win in the first race of the new-for-2018 one hour- forty five minute format.
De Angelis was delighted at his victory,
“I did a test with ANSA at Sebring and the Daytona test last month, but this is my first race in a prototype in general,” said De Angelis. “I can’t be happier. I’m speechless. I don’t know how many times winning at Daytona is going to happen so it’s pretty remarkable.”
Dr Robert Masson’s was victory in the MPC was especially memorable as it fell almost a year since his son Kyle won the PC class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“I had a lot of friends, family, patients, a lot of people I know from the hospital in Orlando where I work, so we had a lot of representation,” said Dr Masson. “Until about 20 minutes to go, I didn’t remember this is almost an anniversary for Kyle winning. Now, here I am and now Kyle is in the big class in the Prototypes (in the WeatherTech Championship) so it’s unbelievable. Last year I said was the year of my life with my kid on track but we’re off to a good start this year.”
Round Two of the 2018 IMSA Prototype Challenge will be at Sebring International Raceway on March 14 – 16.