Sebring 12H : Fraga Pushes No. 74 Riley Ligier to LMP3 Triumph
It was an earlier chaotic scene – and the luck of the bounce – that determined the outcome of the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class, which saw the No. 74 Riley Ligier JS P320 trio of Gar Robinson, Josh Burdon and Felipe Fraga take the victory.
The No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier built nearly a full-lap lead on the LMP3 field entering the final two hours, but a full-course caution allowed Fraga in the No. 74 to close up behind Garett Grist, the finishing driver of the No. 30, for a restart with 78 minutes to go. Encouraged by new tires put on the No. 74 during a pit stop under the yellow, the Brazilian made the pass for the lead on the first lap following the restart, then dodged a tire that came loose from the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing ORECA LMP2 07.
“The team made a good call before that restart,” Fraga said. “We decided to come in and put stickers on and not scrubs. I was like going crazy on the restart to try and win; you have like one chance. I tried to pass Garett and it worked out with the new tires.”
“Then we got so lucky as well. There was a wheel bouncing in Turn 1 (off the No. 51). The wheel was coming straight to me. It was unbelievable, and the wheel just bounced in front of me and hit him. I’m so sorry for Garett but very happy for us.”
Grist wasn’t as lucky. The tire smashed the left front of the Jr III Ligier, eliminating it from the race and allowing Fraga to cruise home a lap ahead of Matthew Bell in the No. 13 AWA Duqueine D08. Tijmen van der Helm brought the No. 85 JDC Miller MotorSports Duqueine home in third.
It marked the 10th WeatherTech Championship LMP3 victory for Robinson, the eighth for Fraga and second for Burdon. It is the first Twelve Hours of Sebring win for all three, though Robinson and Fraga have shared wins at the other three IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events.
“This is one of the most taxing races in the world and anything can happen here,” Robinson said. “We definitely had to make sure we were in position if someone else had a failure or a problem or a mistake, that we were able to capitalize on it. Fortunately for us, that happened.”
Since Sebring is the first points-paying race of 2023 for the LMP3 class, the No. 74 leads with 380 points, followed by the No. 13 AWA Duqueine with 344.
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