Neil Alberico and Leo Lamelas cruised to victory in Saturday’s Scouts of America IMSA Prototype Challenge season opener, co-driving the No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3 in the three-hour race at Daytona International Speedway.
Leading the final 23 laps, Alberico took the checkered flag 13.987 seconds ahead of Austin McCusker, who shared the No. 47 Forty 7 Motorsports Norma M30 with Rodrigo Pflucker. Tonis Kasemets, Bruce Hamilton and Scott Maxwell completed the podium in the No. 60 Wulver Racing Ligier.
“We had the engine yesterday and missed qualifying,” said Alberico. “Leo had a great first stint, and I double-stinted to the end. To win in my first start — and to win at Daytona in IMSA’s 50th anniversary season — is spectacular. It’s great for me and the team. A perfect start to the season.”
The victory came in the first IMSA race for Alberico, who formerly raced in the Mazda Road to Indy. He won four races for Wayne Taylor’s Cape Motorsports in 2015, placing second in the Star Mazda championship, and also won four races for that team in taking second in the 2013 USF2000 Championship. He spent the last three years competing in Indy Lights.
It was the second consecutive Daytona win for ANSA Motorsports, which also won the inaugural IMSA Prototype Challenge one year ago with Roman DeAngelis scoring the victory.
“I’m so grateful to everyone,” said Lamelas, who won at Sebring last year with Charles Wicht Racing. “Our team did a perfect job. It’s very special for me too. I love Daytona, so I’m very happy to win here. Last year, my team, CWR, was an excellent team also. Today, I had the opportunity to go to ANSA. I’m just grateful for everyone who is making this possible for me. It’s a dream for me to be here racing in IMSA.”