Bijoy Garg continued to build momentum Saturday at VIRginia International Raceway in his quest to become the first ever Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class champion in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge.
Garg (No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320) dominated the first of two 45-minute VP Racing Challenge races this weekend in sweltering conditions at the historic road course on the Virginia/North Carolina border to extend his lead over Dan Goldburg (No. 73 JDC Motorsport Duqueine D08) in the LMP3 standings to 40 points.
After securing the pole position on Friday, Garg led from start to finish Saturday to earn his third consecutive LMP3 class race win, and fifth on the 2023 season. His margin of victory Saturday was a staggering 31.665s.
“Wow, I didn’t know that!” said Garg when informed of the comfortable gap he built. “I think we’ve always had the pace this weekend, and that confidence really helped me throughout the race. I was able to get through traffic a lot better and it was really well-executed from the whole team. I was gap managing the last 15 minutes.
“I think you’re seeing what we can really do.”
Garg, 21, from Atherton, California, also swept both races of VP SportsCar Challenge doubleheader weekends earlier this year at Sebring International Raceway and Lime Rock Park.
“We’ve always had the speed, it was just a question of putting it all together and not making any mistakes,” he said. “The car has been really good all year. Now we just need to execute and win a couple more, and we should be good.”
Goldburg scored his fourth second-place finish of the season to go along with his three wins. “One mistake and I’ll get him, but the kid is driving great,” said Goldburg. “Bijoy has really improved a lot this year. I’m giving it my all, trying to take it to him, because I really want to win it.”
Courtney Crone (No. 99 Forty7 Motorsports “Red Dragon” Duqueine D08) passed Brian Thienes (No. 77 Forte Racing Powered by USRT Ligier JS P 320) for third place with 10 minutes remaining and held him off down the stretch in the best LMP3 battle of the race.
“It was a hot one today in the Red Dragon,” remarked Crone, the 2023-24 IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship recipient. “There wasn’t a lap where I could really rest; it was a constant battle with Brian. He was very respectful, and we both had a great race. Just super stoked.”
GSX: Seldorff records first victory in Turner BMW
Francis Selldorff (No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4) earned his first victory Saturday in GSX class competition for the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge.
Selldorff, 22, led every lap of the opening race of a doubleheader weekend at VIRginia International Raceway. He withstood intense pressure from Gregory Liefooghe (No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4) throughout the second half of the 45-minute contest, ultimately winning by 0.221s.
Vin Barletta claimed third place in another Turner Motorsport BMW, 14.291s back.
The result extended Selldorff’s lead over Sebastian Carazo (No. 27 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 718 GT4 RS CS) from 90 to 210 points after Carazo encountered trouble and finished one lap down in 8th place on Saturday.
Selldorff, who started on the outside of the front row, was rightfully proud of his achievement.
“That was super hard, super stressful,” he said. “The track was getting greasy, and we had the (LMP3) prototypes coming through. I was just trying to get good corner exits, that’s all I could do. He was faster than me, obviously, but I knew if I just got good runs where I needed to, I’d be fine.”
The result allowed Selldorff to turn his focus to becoming the first GSX class champion in VP Racing Challenge history.
“That win was huge, and now it’s just trying to be consistent with three races to go,” Selldorff noted. “That was just awesome, really cool.”
Liefooghe, who boasts two wins and two second place finishes in his four VP Racing Challenge starts in 2023, claimed the pole position but lost several places on the opening lap. He quickly rebounded to second place, but could never force his BMW past Selldorff’s similar car.
He came closest with about three minutes remaining, only to run off course in VIR’s Climbing Esses.
“I washed out a little bit wide at the bottom,” Liefooghe said. “I thought maybe I could go around the outside of the first right hander, and it was so dirty that I had no grip and I had to straighten out the whole esses.
“I tried something, but he defended really well and drove a great race,” he added. “It was impossible to pass him. For sure I was not going to touch him. I was going to keep it as clean as possible, and we both managed to do it.”
The second VP Racing SportsCar Challenge race of the VIR weekend takes place Sunday at 11:25 a.m. ET, with live coverage streaming on Peacock and IMSA.com.