When Sean Creech Motorsports put its IMSA program on pause partway through the 2021 season, team boss Sean Creech wanted to keep his team together. Two races into the 2022 season, the team has not only kept busy, but has gained control of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship LMP3 championship.
“The guys had the air let out of their tires when the program went on hiatus last year, but they’ve all been around racing to know that stuff like that happens sometimes,” Creech said.
“We only lost two crew members – everyone wanted to come back and run with us, but not all of them could. I’ve known most of these guys for 20 years, and some as many as 30 years, so they’ve worked together for a long time. When you have a situation like that in racing, you really want to hang onto it. Thankfully we’ve been able to do that, for the most part.”
After business and personal circumstances in Lance Willsey’s life changed partway through the last year’s season, he opted to step away from competing in IMSA. The relationship between the team and Willsey remained positive though, and the team kept busy by preparing cars for private track days and tests.
When Willsey would be ready to return to IMSA, the team’s Ligier JS P320 would be more than ready for him, Creech explained. The team completely dissembled the car and investigated every part of the car before reassembling it.
“There was a misconception last year that Lance stepped away from the team, but that was not the case at all,” Creech said. “He had business situations that kept him from maintaining the level of competitiveness he felt was required for him to race at IMSA events, but he stayed sharp behind the wheel (by) running track days.
“We tested with him in his Porsche a few times last year, getting that up to speed. He has four race cars in our shop, so that was a good amount of work for all of us. And throughout the year, Lance tested in the Ligier as well, mostly at Sebring and Daytona. So, the team stayed busy throughout the year.”
In addition to track days, Creech’s team restored a Callaway C12R that it ran in the 2001 Le Mans 24 Hours. The car had previously sat dormant, with most of its parts missing, for 18 years.
When it was time to return to IMSA for 2022, the team felt it was sharp and focused for the season.
“The plan is always to win,” Creech said. “As we came into the season, we prepped the car just like we would for any other season, looked at and touched everything on the car to make sure it would last over 36 hours in those first two races.
“We wanted first at Daytona, but we ended up second again, the same result we had last year. We had some late penalties that hurt us and luck didn’t spin our way, but we were on the lead lap and competitive. That set us up for the victory at Sebring. A lot of things have to go right for you to win that race – I’ve been trying for 30 years.
“All three drivers – Joao Barbosa, Lance Willsey and Malthe Jakobsen – did a great job and the team did a fantastic job on pit lane. We are leading the points heading into Mid-Ohio so I’d say so far, so good.”
Winning obviously makes everyone happy, but Creech says that the early-season success cannot match the natural chemistry and experience the team has with one another.
“Everyone wants to win,” he said. “We have fun at the racetrack, but we’re serious about racing. Every person on this team has a ton of racing experience and they all know what to do. They know how each other works, they mesh really well and they look out for each other – no-one makes anything too complicated and there are no personality conflicts, which makes for a good environment under the tent.
“They all have each other’s backs and that’s so important, given the sheer number of hours on a typical race weekend. And of course, winning always makes for a happy group.”