Photo: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Alex Keyes confirms GRC Lites return with DRR, WIX Filters

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Past GRC Lites division race winner Alex Keyes will continue in the division this year, the second rung in the Red Bull Global Rallycross, and is back with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The full release is below:

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (DRR) is excited to announce Alex Keyes, three-time Red Bull Global Rallycross (GRC) feature winner, will return to the racetrack this season. Driving in the No. 24 DRR Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites car, Keyes will showcase WIX®Filters as the primary sponsor partner for six races.

Keyes, the 18-year-old driver from Folsom, California, made a dramatic debut last year with Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites victories at the New River Military Base, Washington D.C., and the season finale in Las Vegas. In addition, Keyes recorded four podium finishes and placed sixth in the final Lites point standings as a rookie.

The former open-wheel star is scheduled to compete in numerous 2016 Red Bull GRC Lites events including the season-opening weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona, May 20-22. The No. 24 will feature WIX primary livery at the famed Daytona International Speedway June 17-19, as well as at The Base at MCAS New River in Jacksonville, NC on July 1-3, in Washington D.C. on July 30, and in Atlantic City on August 28. WIX will serve as a full time major associate partner for the Red Bull GRC Lites season on the No. 24 entry. 

“We love partnering with these young drivers,” said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager for WIX. “Their passion for the sport only equals their enthusiasm for their fans, and it’s remarkable to be around. The energy is infectious, and we can’t wait to see how this year unfolds.”

WIX products include oil, air and fuel filters that have been track-tested and proven in all levels of stock car, dirt track, off-road and drag racing. WIX uses motorsports as a grueling testing ground for scenarios involving high temperatures, fluctuations in pressure and rapid breakdown in engine oil.

“I’m very excited to return with the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team in 2016,” said Keyes, a former Formula Car Challenge Series champion in 2014. “Last year’s series was an eye-opening experience, and I learned a lot. But the biggest take away for me? It was the most fun I’ve ever had racing; it was intense. You always had to be on top of it. There’s a learning process, and once I worked through mistakes and the team as a whole started to learn the cars, we really found a good rhythm.” 

DRR will field two Red Bull GRC Lites machines in 2016, including the No. 2 DRR Red Bull GRC Lites entry with newcomer Cabot Bigham and Paratek Pharmaceuticals. Coming off a 2015 season resulting in four wins and eight podium finishes, DRR is poised for continued success in 2016. The DRR organization has been successful in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2000 and continues to expand its effort within both Red Bull GRC SuperCar and Lites series.

“We are very pleased to have both WIX Filters and Alex back with our Lites program in 2016. WIX has been a partner since the beginning, and we believe the pairing couldn’t be a more appropriate fit,” said Dennis Reinbold, team owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. “Alex has developed into a strong contender and team leader, winning three races with us in 2015. He’s gained the experience and confidence to win at any circuit in the series. We’re excited to have Alex debut at the season opener, and we look forward to working hard and producing results both on- and off-track for WIX in 2016.”

Keyes, 18, was a successful karting racer for six years before moving into formula cars in 2013 where he was chosen as a Lynx Racing Academy driver, competing in the Pacific F1600 series. In 2014, he moved up to the West Coast Formula Pro Mazda class and captured the title with ten wins and 13 pole positions. He also competed in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires. 

Former Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice again will serve as a driver consultant and program manager for DRR’s GRC Lites program. DRR will continue to utilize many of his personnel from its IndyCar team, including engineering, mechanical, shock and damper, and management staff.

“I work well with Buddy as he comes from a similar background as me: the Lynx Academy,” said Keyes. “All DRR mechanics are hard workers who know how to put it out there on the racetrack! In 2016, everything for me is going out and trying to win every race, no one remembers who finishes second.”

IMSA Prototype Season in Review

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IMSA Wire Service

It was a year of change for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda. The longtime sprint series evolved in 2018 to six one-hour, 45-minute endurance races that allowed teams to run single or two-driver combinations with a required minimum-time pit stop. The result: record-high car counts in the LMP3 class with Kris Wright ultimately winning the series championship for Extreme Speed Motorsports, while Cameron Cassels took home the LMP3 Masters title. In the MPC class, meanwhile, series veteran Jon Brownson won his first championship in the final season for the class with a breakthrough win one week ago in the season finale at Road Atlanta.

This season-in-review takes a look back at the path each of the three champions took on their way to history.

1. Daytona International Speedway, January 6

Winners
LMP3: Roman De Angelis, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Gary Gibson, No. 44 Ave Motorsports Ave-Riley AR2
MPC: Robert Masson, No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
Not only was the season-opener during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 weekend the first endurance race for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, it also was the first race for the series at the iconic Daytona International Speedway. Wright, driving the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 scored his first podium of the season alongside co-driver Daniel Morad with a third-place finish behind Porsche GT3 Challenge driver and winner Roman De Angelis and co-drivers Austin McCusker and David Droux, finishing second for the upstart Forty7 Motorsports team. Masson scored the MPC win, lapping all but one car, while Brownson came home fifth.

2. Sebring International Raceway, March 16

Winners
LMP3: Leo Lamelas / Pato O’Ward, No. 7 Charles Wicht Racing Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: James McGuire Jr., No. 26 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Dave House, No. 86 ONE Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The round at Sebring featured a late-race restart that saw eventual 2018 Indy Lights champion and 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge champion O’Ward drive from fourth to first in the closing laps to secure the win for full-time driver Lamelas. Wright, meanwhile, finished third for the second consecutive time to start the season with a new co-driver, Michael Whelden. The No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports entry again finished second with McCusker now joined by TJ Fischer, who would go on to run the full season with the team. Coming out of Sebring, McCusker would lead Wright by four points, 64-60. Between Sebring and the next round at Barber Motorsports Park, Wright would decide to contest the full season for Extreme Speed Motorsports.

It was a special victory in the MPC class with House becoming IMSA’s oldest race winner at the age of 75. Foreshadowing a points race that what would ultimately come down to the season finale at Road Atlanta, the top five in the MPC standings are separated by two points leaving Sebring, with Brownson seventh, 12 points out, after a ninth-place finish.

3. Barber Motorsports Park, April 21

Winners
LMP3: Kris Wright / Yann Clairay, No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Rob Hodes, No. 51 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Michal Chlumecky, No. 31 Eurosport Racing Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The only standalone event for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda would prove to be the turning point in the LMP3 class. Leading all but one practice session on the weekend and starting the race from the pole, Wright and co-driver Clairay dominated the event, only losing the lead briefly on a cycle of green flag pit stops. Wright’s biggest competition for the championship, meanwhile, the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports team, seemed poised to score its third consecutive runner-up finish of the season to hold onto the LMP3 points lead, but contact between Fischer and an MPC car with five minutes remaining relegated the team to a 16th-place finish. Entering the weekend down four points in the standings, Wright left Barber up six points, 95-89, over Lamelas.

Chlumecky scored his first MPC class win since 2012, while teammate Brownson, the Sebring pole winner, capped off a Eurosport Racing 1-2 finish placing second in the team’s No. 34 entry. Masson rounded out the podium with a third-place finish in the No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02 to regain the class lead. Brownson left Barber eight points behind Masson, fifth in the standings.

4. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 8

Winners
LMP3: Austin McCusker / TJ Fischer, No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30
LMP3 Masters: Dean Baker, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Howard Jacobs / James French, No. 77 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The long overdue first victory for Forty7 Motorsports finally came at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for McCusker and Fischer, but a second-place finish for Wright meant McCusker could only gain three points on the series leader, with Wright keeping the deficit at 13 points. Dean Baker would score the LMP3 Masters win, the fourth winner in four races following Gibson at Daytona, McGuire Jr. at Sebring and Hodes at Barber. Cassels finished on the LMP3 Masters podium for the first time in 2018 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, finishing the race seventh overall and third in LMP3 Masters.

Leading the MPC standings coming into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Robert Masson enlisted son and defending series champion Kyle Masson as a co-driver for the remainder of the season. The plan appeared to work with the duo crossing the line first, but upon post-race analysis of drive-time requirements, it was concluded that Kyle Masson did not record the minimum 40 minutes of drive time and the car was moved to the back of the MPC results. That penalty elevated Jacobs and French to the race win in Performance Tech’s No. 77 entry and moved Brownson, who finished second for the consecutive race, to the class championship lead. Coming out of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the top six in points were separated by just two points with two races remaining.

5. VIRginia International Raceway, August 18

Winners
LMP3: Kris Wright / Stephen Simpson, No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Dean Baker, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Howard Jacobs / James French, No. 77 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
Wright enlisted IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship regular Stephen Simpson as co-driver at VIR and delivered a knockout punch in the LMP3 title fight, scoring the win and opening a 23-point lead over McCusker, who finished sixth. Baker would win his second consecutive race in LMP3 Masters with a second-place finish overall alongside Zacharie Robichon. Hodes would lead the LMP3 Masters points by two points over Jim Garrett, eight points over Cassels and nine points over Joel Janco.

Robert Masson seemed poised to take the points lead and win alongside Kyle Masson as the duo drove brilliantly in the rain, building a nearly one-lap lead. A mechanical issue with 17 minutes remaining, however, set up a late-race sprint to the finish with French winning on the last lap for Jacobs.

With only one race remaining, House moved into the class lead by three points, 143-140, over Jacobs. The top seven teams were mathematically eligible for the championship and separated by a mere eight points.

6. Road Atlanta, October 12

Winners
LMP3: Austin McCusker / TJ Fischer, No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30
LMP3 Masters: Cameron Cassels, No. 75 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Jon Brownson, No. 34 Eurosport Racing Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The second win of the season for the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports entry and co-driver McCusker and Fischer was not enough to take the championship away from Wright, who finished second at Road Atlanta to sweep podiums in all six races on the series schedule.

Cassels scored his first LMP3 Masters win of the season, and despite entering the weekend eight points behind in the standings, would also win the LMP3 Masters championship after each of the title contenders ran into various issues on-track.

Brownson called it an “honor” to win the final race for the MPC class. Brownson, who started in the first race for the series in 2006, scored his first win of the season in the No. 34 Eurosport Racing entry to win the final championship for the class.