Daytona Beach, Fla. (4 January 2019) – The opening round of IMSA Prototype Challenge competition saw JR III Racing complete a successful three hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. Despite challenging and changing weather conditions that caught out many competitors, the father-son duo of Greg and Eric Palmer had a clean run and brought the No. 3 Copps Industries Ligier JS P3 to the checkered flag in 10th position.
The two-day weekend kicked off with three practice sessions on Friday as the Palmer duo made their first-ever laps at the World Center of Racing, gaining pace and confidence with every outing. Adjusting to the high banking of Daytona, visual clues became key to perfecting drive lines and gaining speed with the Ligier LMP3 prototype machine. Both Palmers improved in each successive practice session, making significant gains in their lap times.
Saturday’s race day kicked off with qualifying as Greg Palmer wheeled the No. 3 Ligier for the 15-minute session. He secured 17th on the grid after posting a 1:55.097-second lap.
A rain-soaked race start did not deter on track progress for Greg Palmer as he gained three positions in the opening 15-minutes. Strategy calls helped propel the No. 3 Ligier up the order to run in the top four at the one hour, 15-minute mark. Palmer pushed through the laps despite the limited visibility with a strong double stint of 53 laps to hand the Prototype over to his son Eric.
Geared with a set of fresh slick Michelin tires and a drying track, Eric gained confidence and speed, clocking his fastest lap of the weekend on lap 73 with a fast time of 1:54.966-seconds. Two yellow flag periods packed the field, but Eric maintained track position and brought the No. 3 Copps Industries Ligier home 10th – the first top ten finish for JR III in IMSA Prototype Challenge competition.
“We are very happy finishing the day in tenth,” said Greg Palmer. “Even in the challenging conditions, the car was phenomenal and felt so secure even when we were running in the front of the pack. Billy (Glavin) and the crew put together a stable and predictable car that let me focus on driving. When it was raining, the visibility was poor, but I knew I had to keep pushing. Eric was able to secure our finish while continuing to lay down clean and fast laps.”
“My first stint in a race at Daytona went very well,” said Eric Palmer. “In order to keep getting faster during the race, I realized where the weak points on track were for my competitors. It felt like I was chasing a rabbit – pushing me to go faster each lap. The restarts were my weakest points and having a radio issue didn’t help, so I was going at them almost blind. This race makes for a good base for us to continue to get better the rest of the season.”
With many takeaways at his first IMSA event as team owner, Billy Glavin is looking forward to building on the team experience with a firm focus on the next round of IMSA competition at Sebring.
“The first outing of the season was excellent,” said Glavin. “We survived and brought the car home in one piece. The Palmers continued to get better during the race. Greg excelled in tough conditions and Eric took us home and kept getting faster all the way to the finish. We learned a lot this weekend and know what we need to clean up so we can be better at Sebring.”
JR III Racing will return to competition at Sebring International Raceway for round two of the IMSA Prototype Challenge on March 19.