The No. 23 AL Autosport with JDC Duo Dominate at Mid-Ohio
By Mark Robinson
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Memo Gidley and Alexander Koreiba were determined not to let another victory slip away in the IMSA Prototype Challenge. They made sure by putting on a dominant display Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Starting from the pole position Gidley earned the day before in the No. 23 AL Autosport with JDC MotorSports Duqueine D08, the duo cruised to their first series win in the race for Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) cars that ran caution-free. The final margin of victory was 41.754 seconds over Tonis Kasemets, who charged from the back of the field twice to take second place in the No. 60 Wulver Racing Ligier JS P320.
“There’s weekends where everything goes your way and you get the setup exactly the way you like it and a little bit of luck,” Gidley said. “This was it for us. It’s my second race with the team and I’m working on a fulltime ride for the first time in 10 years. It’s nice to settle in with this group and with Alexander – and the guy is on fire. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The AL Autosport deal pairing the veteran Gidley with promising newcomer Koreiba wasn’t consummated until just before the season opener in January at Daytona International Speedway. Gidley won the pole there as well, and the No. 23 finished a solid third in the race featuring wet-dry-wet conditions that left the drivers wanting more. They satisfied that desire on Sunday.
Gidley built a comfortable cushion of nearly 10 seconds before pitting to turn the car over to Koreiba just past the halfway point of the 90-minute event. It was lights out after that.
“Those in and out laps must have been extremely good,” Koreiba said, “because we came in with a 10-second lead and I go out and they come over the radio and tell me I have about a minute lead. I’m like, ‘When did that happen?!’ That was exhilarating and a little bit of redemption from Daytona as well. This one felt good.”
Kasemets, meanwhile, was running his own race – literally. After winning the Daytona opener with Bruce Hamilton, the Estonian drove solo in the No. 60 Ligier on Sunday. He started last in the 16-car field, having not turned a lap in practice or qualifying.
By Lap 6, Kasemets zoomed to fifth place but was forced to pit soon after to replace his left-rear tire and dropped back to 13th. On a mission to dedicate his race to the people of Ukraine, Kasemets fought back once more and led for more than 20 minutes before making his mandatory refueling stop with 20 minutes remaining.
He appeared destined for a third-place finish until Patrick Kujala ran out of fuel on the last lap, allowing Kasemets to seize the second spot overall and first among Bronze Cup competitors.
“It went better than we expected,” Kasemets admitted. “I told everybody if we accomplish top 10, we are accomplished. But it’s a testament to our team and the quality of people we have. … This second place is for Ukraine and for the Wulver team.”
Kujala ended up coasting across the finish line fifth in the No. 77 O’Gara Motorsport/Change Racing/US RaceTronics Ligier he shared with Brian Thienes.
Kasemets and the No. 60 Wulver Ligier retained the overall points lead by 20 over Gidley, Koreiba and the No. 23 AL Autosport Duqueine after two rounds. A recap of Sunday’s race airs at 2 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.
The third round of the IMSA Prototype Challenge takes place Sunday, July 3 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, streaming live on Peacock at 11:35 a.m. ET.