Muehlner Motorsports America may be new to the IMSA Prototype Challenge, but the Belgian-based team had a built-in advantage heading into Saturday’s Scouts of America 145 at Daytona International Speedway as a part of the Roar Before The Rolex 24 that opened the 2021 season.
Experience running the latest-generation Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) last year in Europe provided drivers Moritz Kranz and Laurents Hoerr all the benefit they needed in cruising to victory in the No. 21 Duqueine M30-D08 by a gap of nearly 20 seconds on Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56-mile road course.
A fixture in European GT racing, Muehlner took up LMP3 competition in recent years in the Michelin Le Mans and European Le Mans series, gathering valuable race time that helped Kranz put the Duqueine on pole in morning qualifying and pull away early in the one-hour, 45-minute race.
“Both Moritz and me already know (the car) from the 2020 season in Europe, so we are used to it,” Hoerr said. “We know the car, it’s a very good car, it’s reliable. We just enjoyed the car.”
The race got off to a shaky start with a pair of full-course cautions, one when five cars were involved in an incident in Turn 2 after the No. 34 Conquest Racing/JMF Motorsports Duqueine driven by Peter Ludwig spun when cars checked up in front of him.
Once those were cleared, Kranz plowed away from the field under green-flag conditions. He turned over the car to Hoerr for the final 45 minutes and the fellow German was never challenged. Dakota Dickerson brought the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P320 home second, 19.886 seconds back.
“It’s awesome to win in Daytona,” Kranz said, shortly before he hopped in another Muehlner LMP3 and was the fastest qualifier in class for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race.
“You always in Germany see (Daytona) on TV, so racing on it is an awesome experience,” Kranz added. “The team just gave us as perfect of a setup as we can, and actually it was pretty nice. We could just pull away right from the start.”
Brothers Keith and David Grant finished third overall and took home first place in the Bronze Cup class. Keith Grant started second in the No. 40 JDC Motorsports Duqueine and turned the car over to his brother in fourth position. David Grant was able to get the car back on the overall podium in the closing stint.
“It started raining somewhere out there,” David Grant said. “We weren’t sure what the track was going to do. This is our first weekend to run with JDC, our third year to run Prototype Challenge, and it’s a great way to start this.”
In the LMP3-2 class for previous-generation cars, veteran Tonis Kasemets put on a show when he closed the race in the No. 60 Wulver Racing Ligier JS P3. Despite a horsepower disadvantage to the newer cars in LMP3-1, Kasemets chased down and passed several to finish seventh overall and win the LMP3-2 class with co-driver Bruce Hamilton.
“We were racing inside of the race,” Kasemets said. “We only had to beat our group people, but we still want to do the best we can, and we were pushing our limits. I guess talent is not all in horsepower.”
The Roar Before the Rolex 24 continues Sunday with the first-ever Motul Pole Award 100 (minutes) for the WeatherTech Championship. Results from the event will set the starting grid for the 59th Rolex 24, set for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30-31.
Single-day tickets for adults $15 for Sunday’s action with children 12-and-under free. Two-day admissions to next weekend’s storied, twice-around-the-clock Rolex 24 are just $68 with kids 12 and under free. Guests will safely experience a host of sights and sounds that include a fireworks show, the Ferris Wheel at the Boardwalk, entry into the infield UNOH Fanzone, and a host of fun exhibits and displays.
Single-day tickets are also available next Thursday ($10 – includes on-track practices) and Friday ($30 – includes on-track practices and the BMW Endurance Challenge 4-hour race). To learn more on The Roar Before The Rolex 24, as well as Rolex 24 admission opportunities, call 1-800-PITSTOP or log onto www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Rolex 24 will be conducted in accordance with enhanced safety protocols and procedures to provide a safe environment for guests, IMSA competitors, employees and the local community. All guests will be screened before entering the facility and will be required to wear face coverings while maintaining six feet social distancing throughout their visit.
For a schedule of on-track activities and protocols, logo onto www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest speedway news.
About Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway is a state-of-the-art motorsports facility and was awarded the SportsBusiness Journal’s prestigious Sports Business Award for Sports Facility of the Year in 2016. Daytona International Speedway is the home of The Great American Race – the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series event garners most of the attention – as well as the largest audience in motorsports – the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex, also known as the World Center of Racing, boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe. In addition to at least nine major event weekends, the Speedway grounds are also used extensively for events that include concerts, civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training.