Michelin Encore back for a second edition

November 5, 2019

Michelin Encore back for a second edition

November 5, 2019

This week’s Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore has all the feel of a regular IMSA event without any of the pressure.

The low-key environment at Sebring International Raceway provides a showcase for the classes that race with Michelin’s commercial range slick tires.

Open to LMP3, GT3, GT4 and TCR specification cars, the four-hour non-points race is back for a second run in 2019 after a successful debut a year ago. Teams have eight sets of the MICHELIN(R) Pilot(R) Sport GT S8M and S9M tires for the weekend.

GT3 RUNNERS HIGHLIGHTED BY COMEBACKS

A couple comeback stories highlight those in attendance among the 18 cars entered.

After sustaining injuries earlier this year, both Tim Pappas and Ryan Hardwick return to action in a pair of Porsche 911 GT3 Rs.

Black Swan Racing at Rolex 24 At Daytona. Photo: Michelin North America

Pappas sustained significant injuries at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February and has worked for more than seven months to recover. He sampled a Park Place Porsche in California in September to reacclimate. Now, he is back with his Black Swan Racing team this race. He’ll share the No. 54 car with veterans Spencer Pumpelly and Marc Miller.

Hardwick had knee surgery following an accident at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July. He’ll make his first run in a Porsche with Wright Motorsports, sharing the No. 16 car with Jan Heylen and Max Root. The latter driver makes his first start in GT3-spec machinery after racing in Porsche’s GT3 Cup Challenge USA series.

Riley Motorsports sees its new pairing of Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach back racing for the first time since VIR in August. They’re part of a two-car Riley effort at the Encore, with the team running both GT3 and GT4-spec Mercedes-AMG cars.

VARIOUS OTHER IMSA CHAMPIONS, YOUNG DRIVERS SET TO RACE

A handful of champions are also in the field. Past WeatherTech GT Daytona class champions Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow reunite in Paul Miller Racing’s No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

Pumpelly, Tristan Nunez, Cameron Cassels, Stevan McAleer, Jonatan Jorge and Joel Janco have secured some type of IMSA championship over the years. All except Pumpelly will be in LMP3 cars at the Encore.

Other young chargers that raced LMP3 cars this year and are set to do so at the Encore include Neil Alberico, Wayne Boyd, Scott Andrews and Max Hanratty.

In the absence of last year’s overall winners returning, the second-placed trio is back looking to go one spot better. As they did last year, Jim McGuire, Matt Bell and Kay van Berlo, the 2018 Encore polesitter, will share the No. 26 Ligier JS P3 for K2R Motorsports.

LOOKING FOR MORE SEBRING WINS
Stevan McAleer in No. 43 Norma M30. Photo: Michelin North America

McAleer seeks his second Sebring win of the year. He won the LMP3 race in the No. 43 Robillard Racing Norma M30 in March. He’ll share the car this week with Joe Robillard.

GS winners McQuarrie and Westphal, with Mark Siegel (drove sister No. 93 car) in the middle. Photo: Michelin North America

Additionally, CarBahn by Peregrine Racing enters this event for a second straight year. The team capitalized on its 2018 appearance to dial in its car better to win the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge GS race here in March. That win ultimately helped set Tyler McQuarrie and Jeff Westphal on their title run.

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