SEBRING, Fla. — Rookie Tristan Nunez started his International Motor Sports Ass’n career in a big way by dominating the first race of the 2012 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda season Thursday, part of the 60th Anniversary of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida weekend at Sebring Int’l Raceway.
The 16-year-old driver from Boca Raton, Fla., started on the pole and led every lap on his way to a convincing 20.864-second margin of victory over Performance Tech teammate Daniel Goldburg, from Delray Beach, Fla.
With his win, Nunez set a record for being the youngest winner in Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Series history. His pole time of 1 minute, 59.536 seconds at 112.636 mph was also an event record for Prototype Lites around Sebring’s 3.74-mile road course.
“This is a very exciting day for the No. 16 Performance Tech car, and I owe a big thank you to my team for working so hard to get the car ready,” said Nunez. “We were able to find incredible speed as we made minor adjustments after each session this week and took advantage of any time we had on the track to learn new things.”
More than 30 minutes after the race, Nunez met with media and was still trying to comprehend his day.
“I can hardly believe that I won the race and now hold a few records at Sebring as well,” said Nunez. “I am the youngest driver to win an IMSA Lites race, the fastest lap in a race at Sebring in the IMSA Lites Series and the fastest IMSA Lites qualifying lap at Sebring. This is a great way to start my season.”
A pair of JDC Motorsports Prototype Lites driven by Mikhail Goikhberg, from Vaughn, Ontario, and Gerry Kraut, from North Oaks, Minn., finished third and fourth, respectively. Daniel Mancini, from Parkland, Fla., placed a third Performance Tech Élan DP02 in the top five with his fifth-place finish.
Scott Tucker from Madison, Wis., won the L2 class with his ninth-place overall finish in his Level 5 Motorsports WEST WR1000 prototype.BREAKING NEWS: SPEED SPORT is back in print with a new monthly format! Subscribe for just $24.95. Special offer for former subscribers.