LMP3 class championship leader aims for more in the first sprint race of the year
JUPITER, Fla. (9 May 2022) – Sean Creech Motorsport (SCM) looks to continue its podium streak this weekend as the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s LMP3 class shifts gears from the two endurance classics that began the season to Sunday’s sprint race, the Lexus Grand Prix at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (2:00 p.m. ET, USA Network).
After scoring a second-place finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the team took a breakthrough result in the toughest event of the year with the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Exelixis/Focal One/Alta Equipment Ligier JS P320 racing into Victory Lane after 12 grueling hours at Sebring. With more hours of racing than some series contest all season long in the rear-view mirror, drivers João Barbosa and Lance Willsey prepare for the different challenges involved in the much shorter two-hour and 40-minute event.
Both drivers appreciate the ways the team has continued to develop its WeatherTech program since debuting in the top IMSA category last year. With three podiums in five races, the team has continued to deliver a high degree of professionalism and preparation both at the shop and on the racetrack.
“The mindset does change in that until you accomplish the feat of winning in IMSA, there’s always an element of doubt,” said Willsey, who will also compete in the IMSA Prototype Challenge race on Sunday morning with co-driver Parker Thompson, who is contesting the Porsche Carrera Cup North America this season. “We knew we had everything we needed in place, but we had to execute flawlessly to win in this extremely competitive class. We didn’t do that at Daytona, but the tables turned at Sebring. Now there’s no doubt that we have all the ingredients to win. But we have to be perfect, because if we aren’t, another one of these outstanding teams will be. And of course, there’s always an element of luck involved, though you often create your own luck.”
With a roster that boasts decades of experience on both sides of pit wall, SCM will arrive at Mid-Ohio looking to continue the momentum that the Sebring victory and Daytona podium have created this year.
“We’ve approached this entire season in a better position,” said Barbosa, who has three podium finishes in 13 races at Mid-Ohio, including a victory. “We were even better prepared than last year coming in – everyone on the team knew what to expect and what it would take to succeed. We were competitive at Daytona and got the win at Sebring and that shows how prepared the team has been from the outset this year. There’s still a long way to go in the season but we come into Mid-Ohio as the points leader and that’s a good pressure to have.”
“Preparation” is the word that continues to surface when talking about what it takes to win in the LMP3 class. Does that preparation change when the race is less than three hours long, as opposed to 12 or 24 hours?
“There is a bit of a difference in the mental approach to a sprint race as opposed to the endurance events,” said Barbosa. “Any mistake is so costly, since the chances of catching up are slim, so it’s important to be more precise and avoid mistakes. You have to keep the car in a good spot through the entire race to be able to fight up front at the end. It’s not like an endurance race, where you can bide your time until the last two hours – here, it’s flat out the entire way.”
“In a 12-hour race, you’re fighting for every position you can get, but we’re also very conscious of risk versus benefit – and that’s amplified in a sprint race like this,” said Willsey. “If you make a mistake, you’re looking at points not victory, and we’re not here looking for points.
“Coming out of big, fast racetracks like Daytona and Sebring to a track like Mid-Ohio which is very low-grip and weather dependent, factors like getting heat in the tires and pressures up quickly need to be approached a bit differently,” said Willsey. “You have to know what you can and can’t get away with in regard to grip level – and rain is the wild card. It’s also quite physically demanding in the LMP3 car: there’s nowhere to catch your breath, especially with the size of the field. But João knows the track well, he’s had a lot of success there, so we’re quite optimistic.”
Team owner Sean Creech has competed at Mid-Ohio since his early days in racing, with Jim Busby Racing’s Nissan GTP car. While winning his home race at Sebring was a milestone in his 30-year career, the celebration time was short as the focus turned quickly to the task at hand.
“We packed up Sebring that Sunday, took Monday off, and Tuesday we were back in the shop, tearing the car apart and getting ready for Mid-Ohio,” said Creech. “We’re starting from scratch as far as we’re concerned – you have to look forward, always focusing on preparation. It’s a shorter race, but the prep is the same. We’ve had a few test days over the past week to prepare, to work on the balance between speed and consistency, so we know we’re ready. Sunday’s race will be hinge on our ability to work through traffic and stay out of trouble. That will be the biggest challenge.”
SCM would like to thank partners Alta Equipment and Focal One for their continued support.
The Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio takes the green flag Sunday at 2:10 p.m. Eastern. The race will be broadcast live in the U.S., in its entirety on USA Network and Peacock TV. International viewers can watch via IMSA.tv, with IMSA Radio also available at IMSA.com.
Team leader Sean Creech has competed in a multitude of sports car series from 1990 until the present day, including Group C, IMSA GTP, WSC, Grand-Am, SRO World Challenge, and IMSA. SCM will contest the full WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2022 with João Barbosa and Lance Willsey. http://seancreechmotorsport.com/
About Alta Equipment
An industry-leading material handling and construction equipment company, Alta Equipment is an innovator of solutions, delivering diverse products and unrivaled support centered on building lasting customer relationships. Alta Equipment began in 1984 with a single location in Detroit and has grown to 57 locations throughout the Midwest, Northeast, and Florida. https://www.altaequipment.com/
About Focal One
One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime in the United States. The Focal One® HIFU Prostate treatment offers patients a non-invasive outpatient procedure to target prostate tissue while avoiding the common side effects such as loss of urinary continence and sexual function. The Focal One treatment uses high performance, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to precisely target and ablate the prostate, allowing patients to quickly return to normal activities. http://www.focalone.com/