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LMP2 drivers relish the opportunity to take the spotlight at CTMP

Fans may lament the absence of the GTP cars from this weekend’s Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, but devotees of LMP2 are excited for the class to have its turn in the limelight, and most certainly that’s true among the drivers.

“I think it’s neat from an LMP2 class perspective, what IMSA has done to give this class a spotlight race where they can compete for the overall win,” says Colin Braun, who will share the No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA with George Kurtz. “I think that makes it really fun for us as teams and good for our sponsors and partners, and just brings some awareness to how great the racing is in the class. I think oftentimes there are some storylines that maybe go untold or unseen from the TV side, just because there’s so much good racing in IMSA right now you can’t cover everything.

“So it’ll be neat to really have some spotlight on that and showcase what the class is about. I think with the fact that we’re all in the same cars, there’s no BoP to talk about, there’s no different performance levels … it’s how good each team executes and how good the drivers and engineers can come up with a setup that that is fast.”

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Braun has had his share of overall wins, such as last year at CTMP when he and Tom Blomqvist took the victory in GTP. The same is true for several of the GTP regulars stepping into LMP2 machinery this weekend as their regular drivers are competing in the World Endurance Championship race in Brazil. That list includes Renger van der Zande joining John Farano in the No. 8 Tower Motorsports ORECA; Filipe Albuquerque with Daniel Goldburg in the United Autosports No. 22; Pipo Derani driving the No. 88 AF Corse entry with Luis Pérez Companc; and Louis Deletraz repeating his stint from the 24 Hours of Le Mans with PJ Hyett in AO Racing’s No. 99 ORECA.

For the Bronze drivers in LMP2, however, most have not had the opportunity to compete for an overall victory in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition. Braun says that’s an aspect that he and Kurtz have discussed, and he’s excited for the starting drivers to have a chance to shine.

“The first part of the race in some of these sprint races, and even the longer-format races, there’s not as much focus on what happens in that first stage. They sort of go to it towards the middle, to the end of the race. But, man, these Bronzes are so good — they’re so competitive, they drive so well, and the racing amongst themselves at the start of these races is fantastic,” Braun says. “So I think we’re excited for the fans to get a chance to see how intense the opening stints are for the Bronze guys and how good the racing is.”

Gar Robinson is another eager to make waves up front as he works through his first year of LMP2 competition after a few very successful years in LMP3.

“My dad [George Robinson] has a couple of overall wins in Grand Am, IMSA back in the day, and having the opportunity to match those numbers like that is something I find pretty cool to have the opportunity to do,” he says. “But at the end of the day, it’s also just a race and something we need to focus on for the overall championship. I think with the pace that we’ve been showing now, we’ve been learning and working on during the break, I think that’s really starting to show and we’re all getting real comfortable with these cars and anything’s possible.”

LMP2 cars haven’t had a chance to explore the wide-open spaces of CTMP since 2019. Scott LePage/Motorsport Images

This will be the first time LMP2 has competed at CTMP since 2019, so several drivers that have not been competing in other classes are relishing the opportunity to have another crack at the fast 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course as well as the opportunity to go for the overall win.

“I think it’s good for the championship,” says Ryan Dalziel, who will have a new co-driver this weekend in the No. 18 Era Motorsports ORECA, Stuart Wiltshire. “I think it’s gonna be fast — it’s been a while since we’ve been there and it looks like they resurfaced some stuff.

“I think it’s good for the LMP2 class in general to be the the lead event. I remember back in the Atlantic days when we got to be headliner at Trois-Rivieres — it’s a little bit of a morale boost that we’re not playing second fiddle to the GTPs.”

The 2h40m Chevrolet Grand Prix for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship kicks off on Sunday at 11:05am ET. Live coverage on USA Network begins at 11am. The race will also be streamed on Peacock.

Story originally appeared on Racer