The No. 35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Friday’s IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge season opener did not go as well as hoped for Ian Lacy Racing in partnership with G3 Racing, but there were still several positives the team took away from Daytona International Speedway.

The Utah-based team used the race to prepare itself and one of its new Ford Mustang GT4s for its main focus this season, the Pirelli GT4 Americas series. Every lap on a track as demanding as Daytona is good experience, as were the five practice sessions and the qualifying session leading up to the race.

Unfortunately the car was hit in the rear during a multi-car accident early in the race that brought out one of nine full-course caution flags in the four-hour event. The damage was too much to continue, so the team was credited with a 33rd-place finish in the top class, Grand Sport, with 24 laps complete.

Drew Staveley of Walnut, Calif., which is in the eastern part of Los Angeles County, qualified 21st in the Grand Sport class on Thursday with a time of 1:54.999 and an average speed of 111.439 miles per hour for the 3.56-mile, 12-turn road course. It incorporates part of the track’s famous tri-oval, including some banked turns of 31 degrees. Staveley’s time was just 1.176 of a second out of the top 10 in the extremely competitive field.

He moved up two spots before the race even started when one car didn’t pass the post-qualifying technical inspection and another had an issue on the grid and had to move to the rear.

Staveley set the car’s fastest lap of the race on lap 10 with a time of 1:55.401.

He successfully achieved his goal of running consistent laps while staying out of trouble, and was still 19th on lap 13 after the first half-hour of action. With the help of other drivers’ pit stops he had moved up to 17th two laps later, right before a yellow flew to retrieve Roy Block’s Alfa Romeo, which had stopped at the outside of Turn 6.

Staveley pitted under that caution with 18 laps down to turn the car over to his co-driver, Frank Gannett II of Salt Lake City, Utah. Due to the pit stop Gannett started his stint in 23rd place and was in the thick of a battle with Tim Probert and Chris Bellomo on lap 23, running in 25th position. He maintained that position on lap 24, but then on lap 25 he got caught up in a five-car crash in which he was hit in the rear. It brought out the event’s third caution, and the team called it a day after assessing the damage to its beautiful No. 24.

Friday’s race will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network on Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST.

Ian Lacy Racing in partnership with G3 Racing will now concentrate on the Pirelli GT4 Americas series and the TC America series this season, which gets underway March 1-3 at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. Staveley is the reigning champion in the Pirelli World Challenge’s GTS SprintX-Am class, while Gannett placed 12th in that series last year. Gannett’s wife, Jenny, placed ninth in the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge TCA point standings, and the team was awarded that series’ Crew of the Year award. Jenny, a former NASA champion, didn’t race at Daytona, but she and Lacy served as spotters.

At this point there is just one more IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race on the team’s 2019 schedule, which is the one that is part of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in Watkins Glen, N.Y. June 27-30.

For more information, please follow Ian Lacy Racing (@IanLacyRacing) and G3 Racing (@G3RaceTeam) on Facebook.

Post-race quotes follow:

Drew Staveley: “I would say as a whole the Roar and the four-hour race was a good experience for us. We learned a lot about the car at a very accelerated pace.

“Although I’m disappointed with the end results of the race, I’m excited about the potential the car shows. It is going to be a good fit for our team! And I’m excited to be part of the Ford Performance family!

“I’m excited for the potential 2019 has and I can’t thank G3 Racing and Ian Lacy Racing enough for all their hard work!”

Frank Gannett II: “Even though our first experience at Daytona did not go to plan, I am really pleased with how our team functioned as a whole. Our crew was spot on in the pit stops and we were catching up to the field with our pace, so we were on the right track to have a good finish. But no matter, just the experience of driving at such a classic track like Daytona International was an incredible experience. In all, I think that our team is off to a good start and I am really looking forward to getting back on the track at COTA in a month’s time.”

Ian Lacy: “Ian Lacy Racing in partnership with G3 Racing was very excited to kick off the 2019 season in IMSA with our new GT4 Mustangs. We received the cars at the beginning of November and due to weather conditions at home in Utah, had very little running prior to testing at the ROAR. We were able to learn a lot testing and our engineer, Zack Porter, was able to gather a lot of information to mull over before the four-hour IMPC race. We came off the truck for the race with a pretty reasonable car and were getting close on pace to the other Mustangs in class. Unfortunately the race did not go our way, with Frank being run into at about the 50-minute mark with damage such that we were forced to retire the car.

“All in all our IMSA experience was fantastic and provided the team and drivers an opportunity to gain valuable experience with the car in a racing scenario. It also allowed us to meet with and begin a working relationship with all the great folks from Ford Performance. Their efforts to collect data and willingness to share knowledge about the car exceeded our expectations. We really look forward to expanding our relationship throughout the coming season.”