The Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway wasn’t initially on the 2020 IMSA Prototype Challenge schedule but as 2020 has taught us, it’s a fluid situation.
The 3.27-mile circuit in Alton, Va. is now the host of the fourth of six rounds in 2020 for the Prototype Challenge that features Norma M30 and Ligier JS LMP3 racecars. It’ll be the only prototype series running throughout the weekend.
Fourteen LMP3s are entered for the one hour, 45-minute race on Sunday, Aug. 23 at 9:35 a.m. ET, which can be streamed live, flag-to-flag on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
Here’s a closer look at the entry list:
- It was at VIR one year ago that Jr III Racing made its IMSA debut in the No. 3 Ligier. The father-son duo of Greg and Eric Palmer are piloting the car in 2020 and through three races, have scored a best finish of fifth in the second round at Sebring International Raceway.
- Young, up-and-comer Kyle Kirkwood is back in the car for Forty7 Motorsports at VIR. Kirkwood will sub for JJ Jorge in the No. 47 Norma, co-driving alongside Joel Janco. The pair will be going for their second win of the season together as they, plus Jorge, won the season-opening round at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.
- The battle for the championship is starting to shape up, but nothing is ruled out. Matt Bell and Naveen Rao lead the way in the No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma, but only marginally. Dakota Dickerson is two points shy of a tie for first and is coming off consecutive fourth-place finishes. He’ll share the No. 54 Ligier for MLT Motorsports with Dom Cicero at VIR.
- Anyone looking to win at VIR will have to pry the checkered flag from the hands of Gerry Kraut and Scott Andrews. The No. 9 JDC MotorSports Norma has been undefeated since returning to the series at Sebring, scoring back-to-back wins at that event and at Road America earlier this month. While they do sit seventh in the point standings after missing the race at Daytona, overcoming an 18-point deficit may be surmountable should their success continue.
- One driver looking forward to returning at VIR is Stevan McAleer in the No. 10 Robillard Racing Norma. McAleer drove solo to victory in the Prototype Challenge race last year, which wound up being his second of the season. While he and co-driver Joe Robillard haven’t reached victory lane yet, they’ve been close, even finishing runner-up at Sebring.
- While not the overall championship, there still is a Bronze Drivers Cup for Bronze-rated driver lineups to contend for. David and Keith Grant have finished highest of eligible drivers in the last two races driving the No. 40 Norma for Forty7 Motorsports. They hold a five-point lead, 100-95, over the lone driver of K2R’s No. 11 Norma, Steven Thomas, with two rounds remaining.