It was a dominating effort for a pair of first-time IMSA race winners in Sunday’s IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Dakota Dickerson and Dylan Murry, both relatively new to the series’ LMP3 platform, teamed up for the first time this season and immediately gave the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3 team its first win in its second start.
There was no magic pit strategy or luck involved as the two youngsters led the majority of the one-hour, 45-minute race. Dickerson, 22, needed just 10 minutes to move from fourth to first at the start of the race and held that position until he pitted with 50 minutes remaining. From there he handed the car to Murry, 18, who held off a hard-charging Neil Alberico in the No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3 during the closing laps to secure the victory.
The win caps off a career weekend for Murry, who one day ago finished a career-best second in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race in a Mercedes-AMG GT4 for Riley Motorsports. He debuted in the MLT Motorsports LMP3 one race ago at Sebring International Raceway alongside his father David Murry.
“We just started the team, this is incredible,” said Murry. “Dakota was in the lead, came in and we put new Michelin tires on and I went out and just kept it in that position. The car was fantastic. This means a lot to me. I saw the 4 car kind of catch me. Every now and then he'd make a little mistake, fall back and then catch me again. It feels awesome."
For Dickerson, it was his first career IMSA win after starting his career in open-wheel cars. The 2018 F4 US champion was introduced to the LMP3 platform at the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring in November when he drove in that event for ANSA Motorsports.
“I can't wipe the smile off my face,” added Dickerson. “The Ligier LMP3 car is fantastic to drive. Driving their F3 car and their LMP3 car, you can tell they know what they're doing building cars. I'd love to come back to IMSA. It's so much fun. The different mindset and doing endurance racing versus sprint racing is fantastic. Hopefully I'll be here for the rest of this season, if not next season."
Alberico made a few late runs at Murry in the closing laps, but ultimately finished 1.046 seconds back in second with co-driver Leo Lamelas. It was a good points day for the duo after entering the race second in points behind the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports duo of Austin McCusker and Rodrigo Pflucker, who finished fourth.
“It started off as a rough weekend with all of the difficult conditions, but Leo did a great job moving from ninth and getting us to the front,” said Alberico, who set the fastest lap of the race on the 65th and final lap. “I know we’re racing for the championship and we didn’t need to risk the car with a DNF. At the end of the day a podium is a great result and we’re chipping away.”
It was also an impressive performance for the No. 60 Wulver Racing team of Bruce Hamilton and Tonis Kasemets. The duo started in the 20th position and executed a flawless race, ultimately moving to the third position for their second podium of the season.
Finishing 13th but winning the Bronze Cup for the highest-running Bronze-only driver lineup was Joe Robillard. It was the second consecutive winning weekend for Robillard. The Robillard Racing team owner watched as Stevan McAleer won overall at Sebring International Raceway one race ago before winning the Bronze Cup at Mid-Ohio.
“As a new group, putting this together has been really rewarding,” said Robillard. “To have Stevan win at Sebring and me win Bronze here, it’s really exciting. The guys did such a great job this weekend. It was tough out there. There was a lot of traffic, there were a lot of spins and it was a very treacherous, but it sure was a lot of fun.”
The top-five positions were made up of five different teams, with Forty7 Motorsports fourth and the No. 9 JDC MotorSports Norma M30 of Gerry Kraut and Scott Andrews rounding out the top-five.
The IMSA Prototype Challenge now has a two-month break before the final three-race stretch of the season begins at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park the weekend of July 5-7.