Flurry of 2020 IMSA programs coming together

December 13, 2019

Flurry of 2020 IMSA programs coming together

December 13, 2019

A significant number of additional 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship programs have come together in the last few weeks.

With that in mind, here are the updates since that post on November 21.

DPi
Bourdais’ new full-time DPi opportunity comes following four years as one of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s endurance drivers. Photo: Michelin North America

To start, here are two Cadillac team updates of note. First, JDC-Miller Motorsports has confirmed its first of two anticipated entries with four-time Champ Car champion and past Rolex 24, Sebring 12 and Le Mans 24 winner Sebastien Bourdais joining multiple-time IMSA champion Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R. Audi LMP1 veteran Loic Duval is the team’s third driver for the Michelin Endurance Cup. Surprisingly, Bourdais became available following a late drop from his IndyCar team.

Additionally, Action Express Racing adds Mike Conway to its No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Conway joins the trio of Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Filipe Albuquerque. This means Eric Curran bows out of DPi on a high note following 2019 wins at Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the Michelin Endurance Cup.

GT Le Mans
Porsche’s Coca-Cola historic livery at Petit Le Mans wasn’t the only thing having its final ride at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Photo: Michelin North America

Porsche GT Team confirmed its lineup at is annual “Night of Champions” event in Germany. Fred Makowiecki returns to IMSA for the first time, full-time since 2016 and will race alongside Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. Makowiecki had been the team’s third driver. Therefore, Patrick Pilet has been reallocated to other Porsche GT programs.

Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor will defend their GTLM title in the No. 912 car. Newly promoted Porsche factory drivers Matt Campbell (No. 911) and Mathieu Jaminet (No. 912) fill the Michelin Endurance Cup third driver seats.

Another German manufacturer, BMW, continues testing but hasn’t revealed its 2020 lineup yet. BMW Team RLL has confirmed Chris Mower, formerly of Mazda Team Joest, as its new sports car team manager.

Risi Competizione, this year’s Motul Petit Le Mans winners, will return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona. James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon will share the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE.

GT Daytona
Pick your favorite GTD car, and its updated or confirmed lineup is probably somewhere in this shot. Photo: Michelin North America

There is lots to run through here, so here’s a bullet point breakdown:

  • The 2018 GTD champions Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow reunite for a full season in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. Endurance drivers are yet to be determined.
  • Last year’s GTD champion Trent Hindman remains with Meyer Shank Racing in the team’s No. 57 Heinricher Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo, albeit as Michelin Endurance Cup third driver. The team revealed a revised full-season lineup of GT ace Alvaro Parente and prototype veteran Misha Goikhberg, with AJ Allmendinger and Shank teaming up for a 14th time at the Rolex 24.
  • In the second MSR car, the No. 86 Acura, Shinya Michimi and Jules Gounon join Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry.
  • The all-female lineup that raced with Heinricher last year has shifted to a GEAR Racing Lamborghini, run by Grasser Racing Team. Beyond full-season drivers Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen, Bia Figueiredo (Michelin Endurance Cup) and Tatiana Calderon (Rolex 24) join the No. 19 car lineup as additional drivers.
  • Two other Grasser Lamborghinis are expected, one with an announced lineup of Franck Perera, Richard Heistand and Steijn Schothorst for the Michelin Endurance Cup with Albert Costa its fourth driver for Daytona. The ex-Magnus Racing Lamborghini has been spotted in Grasser’s work space.
  • Scuderia Corsa formally confirmed the Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander pairing in the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo, which was shaken down in Fiorano, Italy. Jeff Westphal (Michelin Endurance Cup) and past GT champion Alessandro Balzan join as endurance extras.
  • Wright Motorsports has revealed the first portion of its 2020 program, with Ryan Hardwick and Patrick Long confirmed for the full season in their No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche 911 GT3 R. The team has announced a second car as well, anticipated to be No. 91.
  • Fellow Porsche customer squad PFAFF Motorsports revealed new primary sponsor Motul and a revised driver lineup for its No. 9 car for 2020. WeatherTech Sprint Cup GTD champion Zacharie Robichon races alongside Dennis Olsen. Lars Kern (Michelin Endurance Cup) and Patrick Pilet (Rolex 24) complete the lineup.
  • Aston Martin and The Heart of Racing return to GTD for the first time in several seasons. Veteran race winner Ian James returns in partnership with Seattle based businessmen Gabe Newell and Yahn Bernier, and the team confirmed its entry in early December. The team will announce drivers and the car number for the Vantage GT3 later.
  • In more Aston Martin news, the longtime FIA WEC lineup of Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy joins Ross Gunn in a second Vantage GT3 for Daytona, per Sportscar365.
  • Audi has a confirmed entry as well, with WRT Speedstar Audi Sport reprising its partnership with Audi Canada. Fans will have the opportunity to vote on the livery for the No. 88 Audi R8 LMS GT3, driven by Mirko Bortlotti, Rolf Ineichen, Dries Vanthoor and Daniel Morad.
LMP2
Braun has at least one IMSA race set for 2020. Photo: Michelin North America

Similar to GTD, the other pro-am based class within the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has had a number of announcements.

LMP2 requires a Bronze-rated driver in all races. Therefore, that has helped produce these updated lineups for the class:

  • Peter Baron’s team returns to prototypes under the revised Tower Motorsport by Starworks name. Baron’s longtime friend and co-driver Ryan Dalziel leads the lineup alongside John Farano, with Farano’s Tower Events company supporting the entry. Additional drivers include longtime LMP2 competitor and tech ace David Heinemeier Hansson (Michelin Endurance Cup) and multiple-time LMP2 Le Mans winner Nicolas Lapierre (Rolex 24). They’ll run a new ORECA 07 chassis in the four endurance races and hope to extend that to include the three remaining sprint races.
  • DragonSpeed brings in Colin Braun to bolster its Rolex 24 lineup alongside full-season drivers Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley. A fourth, Silver-rated Rolex 24 driver for this ORECA will be announced later.
  • Performance Tech Motorsports looks close to running a near-identical lineup at the 2020 Rolex 24 as it did in 2019. Team principal Brent O’Neill told Sportscar365 of the intent to continue with Kyle Masson and Cameron Cassels. Masson’s father Robert, a spine surgeon, has posted on social media he’s anticipating running a second straight Rolex 24 with his son. This could leave the fourth driver open to a driver with any rating.

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