No. 54 MLT Motorsports Holds 100-Point Edge on No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports Going into Finale
By Holly Cain
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dakota Dickerson and MLT Motorsports co-driver Josh Sarchet bring a solid 100-point advantage over Muehlner Motorsports America driver Moritz Kranz into Friday’s IMSA Prototype Challenge season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Neither of these winning teams, however, is ready to assume anything until the checkered flag flies at the conclusion of the one-hour, 45-minute race that streams live at 8 a.m. ET Friday on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (internationally on IMSA.com/TVLive).
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It’s a complete reversal from the 3-year-old MLT team’s more typical circumstance in the championship race. MLT usually seems to be the one needing to overcome a points deficit. Now, Dickerson and Sarchet must maintain and guard their slim advantage in a race that has not necessarily been kind to the team, despite its de facto “home track advantage.”
The team’s shop and headquarters is a five-minute walk from the Michelin Raceway paddock, however, MLT Motorsports’ best finish on the famed 2.54-mile track is fifth in two previous starts in the IMSA development series featuring Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) cars. And now, an inaugural season title is on the line.
“This year we’ve landed ourselves on the podium fortunately in every single race,’’ said the Californian, Dickerson. “Going into the last weekend, we have a 100-point lead which is nice, but it’s not anything to rely on. So for us, we’re just going to rely on what’s gotten us on the podium this year and just follow the same process.
“We’re not going to change anything up or be looking at the points. We’re always going to shoot for a win, obviously being conscious to the fact we do need to be aware where the (No.) 21 car is at. But we’re just going to focus on trying to win the race and following the same procedure we have all year, and hopefully that gets us another podium finish, if not another win.”
MLT has podium finishes in all five Prototype Challenge races this season, highlighted by a victory at Watkins Glen International. Twice – in the season opener Daytona International Speedway and most recently at VIRginia International Raceway – Dickerson and Sarchet have finished runner-up.
At Daytona, the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P320 finished second to the No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports Duqueine D08, which has kept the veteran operation in contention with two 2021 victories (also at Mid-Ohio). Kranz has driven in each race, twice solo and three times with co-drivers. He’ll pair with Ugo de Wilde for the second time this week.
A mechanical DNF at VIR has forced the No. 21 team to play catch-up this week, but Kranz remains cautiously optimistic about the title.
“What an incredible season,’’ Kranz said, “We will do our best, but we don’t have it in our hands anymore.’’
A finish of fifth or better in the 15-car LMP3-1 class guarantees the championship for the No. 54 MLT Ligier, but Dickerson is taking nothing for granted.
“It’s just following the same process as we have before, but like anything in racing, you never know what’s going to happen,’’ Dickerson said.
“There’s definitely a lot of different variables going into the race, but I think if we just keep our heads down and focus on what we have focused on this entire season, we should be fine.”
George Staikos and Danny Kok (No. 61 Conquest Racing Norma M30) clinched the LMP3-2 championship at VIR but will seek their first win of the season at Michelin Raceway, with two cars entered in the class for previous-generation LMP3s.