Nico Pino sets the quick LMP3 lap of the race as SCM finishes second
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (6 August 2023) With a record-setting pace in qualifying and a strong run out front for nearly the entire race, Sean Creech Motorsport dominated much of Sunday’s IMSA SportsCar Weekend race at Road America, but late race loss of grip saw the team finish in second position at the checkered flag.
Drivers Nico Pino and Joao Barbosa combined to keep the No. 33 Focal One Ligier JS 320 in the lead for much of the two-hour and 40-minute race. But the newly repaved racing surface get more and more slippery late in the race, allowing the No. 74 Riley Ligier to catch up – and when Barbosa was momentarily stuck behind a GT car, they were able to get by for the lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Pino – the team’s endurance driver – joined Barbosa at the legendary 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course, with Lance Willsey unable to attend the race weekend due to prior commitments. On Saturday, Pino put the No. 33 on the LMP3 pole, setting a new track record with a lap of 1:57.930. It was the team’s second straight pole position and track record at Road America.
The field took the green flag following four pace laps – double the scheduled number, after a prototype went into the sand in the Carousel. The same GTP prototype stalled on lap three, bringing out the first full course caution of the race.
Once the field returned to green, Pino focused on making inroads into the P2 field ahead while keeping his LMP3 competitors at bay. Despite racing at Road America for the first time, he settled in quickly and stretched his lead to over three seconds with two hours remaining.
Pino continued his charge through the LMP2 field, carving his way forward until he cleared the P2 cars and paced at the back of the GTP field, setting a quick lap at 1:58.566. He completed his quietly masterful stint and headed to pit lane with 1:36 remaining, handing the car to Barbosa – who headed back on track with a lead of over nine seconds on the LMP3 field.
A four-time IMSA champion and past Road America winner, Barbosa quickly slid into rhythm, balancing aggression and caution as he threaded his way through traffic. Increasing his lead over the No. 74 Riley LMP3, Barbosa came into pit lane with 42 minutes remaining for fuel and four Michelin tires.
But as the race hit the late stages – and track temperatures began to rise – Barbosa began fighting for grip, allowing the No. 74 back into the mix. With 22 minutes remaining and fighting with every inch of the racetrack, Barbosa got stuck behind a GT car and the 74 made the pass for the lead.
Barbosa battled hard to the end and brought the No. 33 home for the team’s second podium of the year (after the Rolex 24 at Daytona).
While disappointed, Pino, Barbosa and team principal Sean Creech were all extremely proud of the team for the hard work and effort.
“It was a quick stint for me,” said Pino. “I was on the qualifying tires, and I might have pushed them a bit too much yesterday. I was able to build up a gap early in the race and didn’t make any mistakes. In the end, P2, which is not the best result given what we were expecting, but a strong result overall. The car is in good shape and that’s most important.”
“Overall, it’s a great result for the team,” said Barbosa. “We wanted a bit more, but after the tough few races we’ve had, it’s a solid result. The lower downforce setting helped early in the race, but when the track temps came up, we just didn’t have the pace. But at the end of the day, it’s a good result for everyone on the team.”
“Both drivers did an outstanding job,” said Creech. “We got wrecked out of the lead last year here, so it was good to finish on the podium today. We lost a good deal of grip at the end, both from the track getting even more slippery and with the lower downforce setting we had on the car – it worked well in the cooler temps than in the heat. But it was a great effort from the entire team.”
SCM thanks partner Focal One for its continued support.
Next up for SCM will be the TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, September 15-17. The race will be broadcast live in the U.S., on NBC and Peacock TV, while 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, includingGroup C, IMSA GTP, WSC, Grand-Am, SRO World Challenge, and IMSA. SCM will contest the full WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2023 with João Barbosa and Lance Willsey. http://
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