Thompson Shows Dominant Pace in IMSA Prototype Challenge Debut with Sean Creech Motorsport
MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE, LEXINGTON, OHIO
Parker Thompson seems capable of first-class performance in any race car or series. With his primary campaign in Carrera Cup North America on a scheduled intermission until late June, Thompson filled the hole in his calendar by joining the IMSA Prototype Challenge (IPC) at this weekend’s Lexus Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. Driving with Lance Willsey and Sean Creech Motorsport (SCM) for Sunday’s contest, Thompson produced an exciting mid-race charge that took the #14 SCM/Exelixis/Focal One/Alta Equipment entry from P10 to P3, setting a new IPC race lap record in the process. His charge was ultimately cut short by a fueling issue. After multiple pit stops, the team reached the checkered flag and a ninth-place finish.
Thompson’s dominant pace during the race was a welcome reward for the twenty-four-year-old Canadian who had uncertain expectations in his first opportunity behind the wheel with Sean Creech Motorsport in IPC. After only a handful of laps in practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, Thompson launched into a blistering pace when his stint began, about halfway through the 90-minute race. His best race lap, 1:17.583, marked a new record for the class at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and bested the next best driver at the event by more than six-tenths of a second. With that pace, he worked the white, red, and blue #14 from P10 to P3, unleashing a flurry of action throughout the field as he advanced.
With a podium finish on the horizon, an unfortunate fueling issue forced Thompson into the pits and dropped the #14 back down the order. Yet another pit stop came just minutes later. Back on track, Thompson continued his attack through to the finish, but after two unplanned stops, a podium was out of reach. He took the checkered flag in the ninth position, two laps down.
“A gigantic thank you to Sean Creech Motorsport and Lance Willsey for a fantastic opportunity this weekend. Getting here was a bit of a whirlwind! We finalized our plans only a few days before the event and poured a seat for me just ahead of practice on Friday morning. Having already worked with the team in other roles, I knew it wouldn’t be any trouble getting comfortable and up to speed here at Mid-Ohio.
It’s not often enough that I get a chance to go wheel-to-wheel in a new series, and the IMSA Prototype Challenge is a series that I respect particularly. Some of the drivers here are drivers who inspired me to launch a racing career. LMP3 cars blend some of the aero characteristics of open-wheel cars that I raced early in my career, with the power and weight of sportscars that I’ve driven more recently. Being dropped in and performing the way I did with minimal preparation lends me massive confidence. It’s a shame that we couldn’t convert our performance on track into a better overall result, but the success that I experienced during the race more than matched my expectations. I hope to do this again sometime in the future and earn a result that the whole team can celebrate.”
As followers of Thompson watch him pilot new race cars, they will be reminded of his 2019 season: a season that in many ways marks the beginning of this chapter in his racing career. That year a younger Thompson remarkably took on three full campaigns; winning the Canadian Touring Car Championship, placing second in IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, and third in the Road to Indy, Indy Pro 2000 Championship. Earning success in such different machinery, even on the same weekend, revealed Thompson’s adaptability as a driver and his natural feel for racing.
While Thompson’s experiences in 2019 opened the door to the opportunities in Porsche where he is currently focused, that year also marks the last time that he earned an overall championship win. For 2022, another championship title is Thompson’s key objective. That is something that he is closely contesting in Carrera Cup North America, where after six of sixteen rounds, he and team JDX Racing are currently 2nd in the overall standings. Thompson will look to improve that position when Carrera Cup North America resumes on June 24th at Watkins Glen International.
Images credit Bob Chapman / Autosport Image