Four NP01s showed up to Motorsports Ranch Cresson for an impressive first meeting of the highly anticipated NASA spec class. With all the drivers having little or no seat time, they were eager to share their experience with each other on the car. Saturday’s first race was won by Dave Balingit, as he braved the wet conditions with Bobby Butler and Matt Rivard pulling off early.
“I made the decision to pull in after the rain started falling,” Butler said. “We had maybe half of a lap of dry after the start and then it got really slick.”
Race two was moved to Sunday, and Butler got the win. Balingit had a spin, but did not leave the track surface, as he pressed to find the limits of the new car. Rivard was late to grid but made it out on the lead lap, never to catch up.
Two-time NASA National Champion, Ben Anderson, traveled from Minnesota to get a test drive in the car. Ben took the Rivard/Dexter car out in a TT session, and quickly came up to speed with an impressive performance that bested the next closest competitor by more than 2 seconds.
“The car is much faster than I expected,” Anderson said. “I kept braking later, or not at all, and have not found the limit yet.”
The third race was the first time the NP01 drivers saw the sun and some warmer track conditions. With Butler on grid midfield and Balingit and Rivard at the back of a 31-car field, there would be some great racing. At the green, Balingit shot through traffic and completely closed the gap to Butler, while putting a half dozen or more cars between himself and Rivard. Balingit would win the NP01 class moving all the way up to eighth position overall from the back. Butler and Rivard finished second and third in class after working through traffic and learning some of the finer points of the car.
It was a successful weekend for all the NP01s. The first race of the Atlantic NP01 series is June 9-10 at the Hallett Summer Shootout. For more information on the NP01, the spec series, and how to order your car, head to Nasaprototype.com.