In 2006, International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) unveiled the Lites class for single seat prototype race cars. This series ran as a support event to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). It served as a training ground for drivers and teams that wanted to move up to the ALMS.

There were three categories (L1, L2 and L3) in the first season. The weight of these sports racers and engine type and displacement determined their classification.

The series underwent changes in 2017 and was renamed IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda. IMSA officials also introduced a new category. The championship had two classes:

  • Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) – These cars were new for 2017. There are a number of race car manufacturers producing chassis’ for this category: Ligier, Ave-Riley and Norma. To keep costs down, all vehicles are powered by a 5.0-liter 420-horsepower V8 Nissan motor.
  • Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) – These are the cars that competed in the Lites 1 category. They use an Elan Motorsport Technologies DP02 chassis. This sports racer is powered by a 2.0-liter Mazda MZR engine. The Elan DP02 weighs 1,425-pounds with the driver.

    The season opened at the historic 12-Hours of Sebring. It was followed by Barber Motorsports Park, Watkins Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Trois-Rivieres and concluded at Road Atlanta during the Petit Le Man weekend. During a race weekend, drivers compete in two forty-five-minute races.

    Rounds five and six of the new IMSA Performance Challenge series would be held at Watkins Glen International. Drivers would battle in two forty-five minute contests around the 3.337–mile eleven-turn road course.

  • Round five of the IMSA Performance Challenge at Watkins Glen International. A field of twenty-three drivers (eight LMP3 entries and fifteen Mazda Prototype Challenge entries) enter the final turn on the pace lap. Leading the way is the pole-sitter Colin Thompson in a Norma M30. Sharing the front row with Thompson is the No. 8 Ligier JS P3 driven by Kenton Koch.
    At the end of the qualifying session, Kyle Masson topped the Mazda Prototype Challenge time sheet in the No. 18 Elan DP02. Masson led the category until he had an incident on lap-9 and fell to last place. He continued and worked his way through the field, finishing third in class. In miserable conditions the following day, Masson redeemed himself by finishing first in class and second overall.
    Qualifying on the pole for the weekend’s first event was Colin Thompson. Thompson was driving the Kelly-Moss Road and Race prepared Norma M30 - this was the only Norma entered in the LMP3 category. He would lead race one flag-to-flag and close the points gap on the series leader, Andreas Gutierrez. Thompson started on the pole Saturday but spun the car in the wet conditions and finished third in class.
    Series regular, Michal Chlumecky drove the Eurosport Racing Elan DP02. In round five, Chlumecky was gridded second in the Mazda Prototype Challenge class but finished fourteenth. The wet conditions on Saturday appeared to agree with him. Chlumecky started ninth but at the checkered flag, he was fourth overall, second in class and winner of the Masters category.
    Point’s leader, Andreas Gutierrez raced a Ligier JS P3 prepared by Performance Tech Motorsports. Gutierrez started and finished third in Friday’s contest. The following day, heavy rain and a poor decision by his competition worked to Gutierrez’s advantage. Colin Thompson’s spin and the wrong choice of tires by Kenton Koch allowed him to win and increase his lead in the championship standings.
    Former IMSA Lites champion, Kenton Koch drove No. 8 Ligier JS P3. In round five, Koch shared the front row with the pole-sitter, Colin Thompson. He chased Thompson the entire contest but could not pass. At the end of 45-minutes of racing, Koch was in second place. For the second event of the weekend, he gambled and chose dry tires – hoping that the rain would stop. Conditions got worse and Koch pitted for rain tires – he finished seventh in class.
    Tazio Ottis finished second, to his JDC Motorsports teammate, Kris Wright in round five. On Saturday, the driver of the No. 72 Elan DP02 started tenth overall and fourth in the Mazda Prototype Challenge category. At the conclusion of the very wet race, he was fifth in class and ninth overall.
    Taking advantage of Tyler Masson’s misfortune in race one was second fastest Mazda Prototype Challenge competitor, Kris Wright. On lap-10, he inherited the lead and captured his first series win. Wright was gridded seventh for round six and second in class. He lost a position to Michal Chlumecky and grabbed the last spot on the Mazda Prototype Challenge podium.
    The No. 75 CWR Charles Wicht Racing Ligier JS P3 was driven by James Dayson. Dayson recorded the six quickest LMP3 time in qualifying for round five. Problems for Naj Husain allowed him to inherit a fifth place finish. Torrential rain the following day worked in his favour and allowed him to move up the race order and take the runner-up position.

    1LMP3Colin ThompsonNorma M3020-
    2LMP3Kenton KochLigier JS P320-
    3LMP3Andres GutierrezLigier JS P320-
    4LMP3Robby FoleyLigier JS P320-
    5LMP3James DaysonLigier JS P320-
    6MPCKris WrightElan DP0220-
    7MPCTazio OttisElan DP0220-
    8MPCKyle MassonElan DP0220-
    9MPCDon YountElan DP0220-
    10LMP3Matthew DickenLigier JS P320-
    11MPCRobert MassonElan DP0220-
    12MPCGary GibsonElan DP0220-
    13LMP3Paul FixAve-Riley AR220-
    14MPCJon BrownsonElan DP0220-
    15MPCStuart RettieElan DP0220-
    16MPCPaul La HayeElan DP0220-
    17MPCJoel JancoElan DP0220-
    18MPCTim GeorgeElan DP0220-
    19MPCStephen DawesElan DP0220-
    20MPCHoward JacobsElan DP0219-
    21MPCMichal ChlumeckyElan DP0215-
    22LMP3Naj HusainLigier JS P35-
    23MPCJay SalmonElan DP021-
    24LMP3Robert La RoccaLigier JS P30Did Not Start

    1LMP3Andres GutierrezLigier JS P314-
    2MPCKyle MassonElan DP0214-
    3LMP3James DaysonLigier JS P314-
    4MPCMichal ChlumeckyElan DP0214-
    5MPCKris WrightElan DP0214-
    6LMP3Colin ThompsonNorma M3014-
    7MPCStuart RettieElan DP0214-
    8LMP3Naj HusainLigier JS P314-
    9MPCTazio OttisElan DP0214-
    10MPCGary GibsonElan DP0214-
    11MPCRobert MassonElan DP0214-
    12MPCPaul La HayeElan DP0214-
    13LMP3Matthew DickenLigier JS P314-
    14MPCStephen DawesElan DP0214-
    15MPCHoward JacobsElan DP0214-
    16LMP3Paul FixAve-Riley AR214-
    17MPCJoel JancoElan DP0213-
    18LMP3Kenton KochLigier JS P313-
    19MPCTim GeorgeElan DP0213-
    20LMP3Robby FoleyLigier JS P312-
    21MPCJon BrownsonElan DP027-
    22MPCDon YountElan DP023-
    23MPCJay SalmonElan DP020-
    24LMP3Robert La RoccaLigier JS P30Did Not Start

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