IMSA

Roar Before The 24 – A Look At The GTD Entries

(C) Michael Shank Racing

SCOTT PRUETT’S FINAL RACE; DEFENDING CHAMPIONS SPLIT; LEXUS & ACURA TEAMS NOW FULL CUSTOMER EFFORTS

 

If the story in GTLM is that not much is changing (apart from an increasingly likely partial season for Risi Competizione), that’s not the case in GTD. The reported cost of a full season for a single car team has been put at around $3,000,000 this year, leading some teams to look elsewhere or close up.

The GTD paddock was also touched by tragedy late last season – the deaths of Holly Job, of Alex Job Racing, and Stevenson Motorsport’s Johnny Stevenson make the absence of both teams from competition this year all the more keenly felt by the racing community. The IMSA paddock is missing something without them, and we’d like to make our thanks and condolences clear to their close ones.

American motorsport legend Scott Pruett has confirmed that the 2018 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona will be his last race before retirement. In a career spanning half a century behind the wheel, Pruett won the Rolex 24 five times and took seven championships and 60 wins in IMSA and Grand-Am on the way to becoming the most successful American sports car driver ever. Bill Auberlen is three wins short of the record, and both will race at the Rolex this year.

Last year’s surprise Rolex 24 winners Alegra Motorsports were present at the December test, but not listed on the entry list and so won’t make the race. Lamborghini squads Change Racing and Dream Racing Motorsport aren’t present either, despite having substantial sponsorship last year and support from Lamborghini Squadra Corse drivers. Lamborghini team EBIMOTORS ran at the Rolex last year with Squadra Corse men Fabio Babini and Emanuele Busnelli alongside French gentleman driver François Perrodo and coach Emmanuel Collard, but take no part in 2018.

It’s not all bad news and lower car counts though. Montaplast by Land-Motorsport bring an Audi R8 LMS for a full season, proving GTD’s attraction to one of the best GT teams anywhere in the world. Scuderia Corsa have expanded to two cars, taking last year’s WeatherTech-funded entry from Riley Motorsports who themselves have landed the contract to run Kenny Habul’s SunEnergy1 car this year. Risi Competizione are also listed to run with a quartet of Latin American drivers at the Rolex. Aston Martin regular and last year’s WEC GTE Am champion Paul Dalla Lana is coming to play too, bringing his regular co-drivers and Le Mans winner Daniel Serra together in a Ferrari 488.

IMSA special dispensation for Acura and Lexus to operate ‘factory’ teams is cut this year too, following a development year for the new NSX and RC F GT3 cars. Acura’s link with Michael Shank Racing continues, the team fielding a pair of full-season entries as a funded customer team. Lexus recently confirmed their second car’s full-season campaign, and will field Scott Pruett in his final professional race before retirement.

 

GTD:

#11 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 / Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti, Franck Perera, Rik Breukers

The familiar green Lamborghini is back for another crack at Daytona, uniting regular pairing Rolf Ineichen and Mirko Bortolotti with journeyman GT hotshoe Franck Perera and rising endurance star Rik Breukers. Bortolotti is a Lamborghini factory driver and hugely experienced in the Huracán GT3, having co-driven it to Blancpain GT Series honours last year with Christian Engelhart. Ineichen is a Dubai 24H class winner and took podiums last year in ADAC GT Masters with Lamborghini. Frenchman Perera is a European Le Mans Series GTC champion and comes to the team after a successful 2017 with Mercedes team HTP Motorsport in Blancpain GT. Rik Breukers is a Lamborghini Squadra Corse driver, and won the 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Middle East as well as taking pole at the World Finals at Imola in a breakout 2017 season.

 

#14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 / Dominik Baumann, Kyle Marcelli, Bruno Junqueira, Philipp Frommenwiler

Recently confirmed for the full season together, former Mercedes man Dominik Baumann and irrepressible Canadian Kyle Marcelli will share the second Lexus run by Paul Gentilozzi’s 3GT Racing team. Baumann came up through ADAC GT Masters and Blancpain GT with German powerhouses Team Schubert and HTP Motorsport. He won the 2016 qualifying race for the Nürburgring 24 Hours and came second in the Blancpain GT Endurance series the same year. Marcelli has taken poles and podiums in sports cars since 2010, winning in Pirelli World Challenge, Trans-Am and European Le Mans Series as well as being a class winner at Petit Le Mans and runner-up at Sebring. Bruno Junqueira has Formula 3000, Formula 1 testing, Champ Car, IndyCar and LMPC miles under his belt in a career spanning over two decades. He raced for Gentilozzi’s RSR Racing team in 2012, taking second in the LMPC class at Petit Le Mans in 2012. Frommenwiler has already raced the Lexus RC F GT3, co-driving with Albert Costa on the way to third in the 2017 International GT Open championship.

 

#15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 / Jack Hawksworth, David Heinemeier Hansson, Scott Pruett, Dominik Farnbacher

Jack Hawksworth stays on for another year, despite being touted as a potential candidate to fill one of the new prototype seats opening for 2018. His speed last year was undoubted, and podiums should have come were it not for costly errors by a team in a learning year. Sharing the car for the full season is Danish gentleman driver David Heinemeier Hansson – the tech founder established as one of the very best ‘amateur’ racers in the world. He won the GTE Am class at Le Mans in 2014 on his way to the championship that year, and has two other podiums at Le Mans as well as runner-up finishes in GT and LMP2 machinery in the WEC. Scott Pruett is part of the furniture in American racing, taking a record number of sports car wins during his 50 year career to become a living legend of the sport. Dominik Farnbacher won his class at the Rolex 24 on his debut in 2005, launching a career that saw the GT specialist take three podiums at Le Mans, a class win at the Nürburgring 24 Hours and sign as an SRT factory driver. Farnbacher also co-drove the Lexus RC F GT3 to victory in its debut race in the VLN last year.

 

#19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 / Ezequiel Perez Companc, Christian Engelhart, Christoph Lenz

Ezequiel Perez Companc may not be a particularly familiar name, but the young Argentinian’s GT experience includes high level International GT Open, the Ferrari Challenge Europe (the crashy one you’ve laughed at on YouTube) and some impressive stints in Grasser Lamborghini machinery at the Spa 24 Hours. Christian Engelhart is a Grasser regular and Lamborghini Squadra Corse driver. Engelhart’s mechanical expertise has given him a particular aptitude for endurance, including a Dubai 24H overall win in 2014 and double Blancpain GT titles alongside Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli in 2017. Christoph Lenz has competed in Lamborghini Super Trofeo, took third in class at the 2016 Gulf 12 Hours and competed in Creventic’s 24H Series last year, again with a GRT Lamborghini. This lineup lacks the instant impact of others in the class, but all three are capable. Lamborghini entries seemed fragile and harder on tyres than most in IMSA last year, so look to see if de facto factory squad GRT has done its offseason homework.

 

#29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 / Sheldon van der Linde, Kelvin van der Linde, Christopher Mies, Jeffrey Schmidt

The brothers van der Linde are the latest in a long line of racers from the South African dynasty. Sheldon stormed around Road Atlanta at last year’s Petit Le Mans, driving to the lead of GTD and pulling a gap on his IMSA debut. An equally pacy run at the California 8 Hours in Magnus Racing’s Audi R8 cemented a breakout year for the young Silver-rated South African. Brother Kelvin was equally effective, taking the lead of the Nürburgring 24 Hours last year on the final lap. Audi Sport factory driver Christopher Mies is an old hand at long-haul R8 GT3 efforts by now, having won back-to-back Bathurst 12 Hour victories, the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series, 2015 Nürburgring 24 Hours and Australian GT Championship and 2016 ADAC GT Masters titles, all in various forms of Audi R8 GT3. Jeffrey Schmidt is a Carrera Cup Challenge Middle East champion and Porsche Supercup podium finisher; the Swiss racer was part of the Land effort that took second at the Rolex in 2017. With a very strong driving squad, proven team and reliable car, it’s hard to bet against the newcomers going home with a trophy.

 

#33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 / Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Luca Stolz, Adam Christodoulou

If you can’t race a Viper, a long-nosed front engined beast like the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has to do. Texas gent racer and Viper dealer Ben Keating became a fan favourite in wild Viper Exchange-liveried SRT machinery, but now races (and sells) Mercedes. Together with driving partner Jeroen Bleekemolen, the two took GTD victory at Daytona in 2015 and established a very close working relationship with Riley Motorsports. Bleekemolen is one of those drivers that happily gets into and wins in anything – A1GP, Le Mans LMP2 victory, Blancpain GT wins and podiums in V8 Supercars grace his CV. Mercedes favourite Luca Stolz is a regular in Mercedes customer GT teams and has won in ADAC GT Masters. Adam Christodoulou began racing in the UK before moving across the Atlantic to win the 2009 Star Mazda championship. A move to endurance racing paid off, with wins including the 2012 Barcelona 24 Hours, 2015 24H Paul Ricard and 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hours. Keating and Bleekemolen know each other and work together brilliantly, and have consistently delivered strong performances at Daytona.

 

#44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 / Andy Lally, John Potter, Andrew Davis, Markus Winkelhock

Magnus are back! Last year’s California 8 Hours winners bring a boatload of attitude and masses of fun to the track (check them out on social media, trust me) but serious firepower in the driving seat. Audi gun Markus Winkelhock in an R8 LMS is backed up by the relentlessly quick Andy Lally and bulletproof Andrew Davis to make for very heavy weaponry. Team owner John Potter isn’t the fastest gentleman driver out there, but there are plenty slower in the class and his co-drivers have the speed to cover him. Magnus won their class at the Rolex in 2012 and 2016 with Lally and Potter in the car, as well as at Sebring in 2014. Andrew Davis joins the team for the endurance rounds from Stevenson Motorsports, where he won the 2015 Continental Tire Challenge GS class championship. Davis is also a Grand-Am GT champion

 

#48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 / Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Andrea Caldarelli, Bryce Miller

Bryan Sellers is back for another season at Paul Miller Racing after being intimately involved in the Falken Tyres effort alongside Wolf Henzler in a Porsche 911 for many years. His high-speed wisdom have paid dividends teamed with co-driver Madison Snow, the young American learning the intricacies of endurance racing and losing none of his blinding speed in the process. A win, another podium and two poles in 2016 showed the potential of the new combination, although three poles last year were only converted to two podiums on race day. Andrea Caldarelli made his Rolex 24 debut with the team last year and proved his worth – despite finishing seventh in class and five laps down on GTD winners Alegra Motorsports, the Paul Miller Racing effort was the first Lamborghini over the line. Another year of data and setup – as well as stronger strategy – should see the winter work pay off for Paul Miller’s team. Bryce Miller brings the gentleman driver credentials, having taken podiums at the Rolex and Spa 24 Hours.

 

#51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 / Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda, Daniel Serra

Paul Dalla Lana brings his merry band of co-drivers back to where it all began for him. The Canadian businessman began racing in earnest in IMSA’s Continental Tire Challenge series, and now comes back to the race he loves after finally winning the WEC GTE Am championship. Regular co-driver Pedro Lamy has been winning endurance races since the early Noughties in GT and prototypes, Mathias Lauda has quietly matured into the consummate GTE pilot and Daniel Serra translated thousands of Dunlop tyre testing miles into a factory Aston Martin GTE Pro ride to Le Mans class victory last year. The championship trio of Dalla Lana, Lamy and Lauda are set for a quieter year in 2018 – the WEC switch to a winter calendar letting them play away from their Aston Martin Racing home more. Unwilling to fork out a million dollars for the privilege of entering a new manufacturer in an IMSA round, this rapid quartet are taking a one-off deal from AF Corse satellite team Spirit of Race to compete in a Ferrari 488 GT3. It’ll be interesting to see how Dalla Lana adapts from the power and aero of a front-engined GTE to the driver aids and balance of mid-engined GT3 machinery.

 

#58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R / Christina Nielsen, Patrick Long, Robert Renauer, Mathieu Jaminet

After winning back-to-back IMSA GTD championships with driver coach Alessandro Balzan in Scuderia Corsa Ferraris, young Dane Christina Nielsen moves to partner Porsche factory driver Pat Long at the Wright Motorsports outfit with which he took last year’s Pirelli World Challenge title. Despite being a two-time champion, Nielsen has never finished higher than sixth in the Rolex 24 Hours. As well as winning his class at Daytona in 2009, Patrick Long is now the go-to driver coach in Porsche’s factory arsenal He taught Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey that racing is more fun than acting, and guided David Heinemeier Hansson to strong performances in 911 GTEs, scoring Le Mans podiums with both. He’ll be able to draw on Nielsen’s deep vein of Porsche experience to unlock the speed and technical feedback required from her to go for three championships in a row. Robert Renauer (together with twin brother Albert) basically owned Creventic 24H races last year, dominating the series in their Herberth-Precote 911 GT3 R – 4 wins from 6 races, including co-driving with Brendon Hartley in his first race in a 911 to victory at the Dubai 24H marked an incredible year for the German. Mathieu Jaminet is a recent addition to the Porsche Juniors; he won the Carrera Cup France championship and came third in Mobil 1 Supercup in 2016 before starring in customer drives last year.

 

#59 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R / Steve Smith, Hari Proczyk, Sven Müller , Matteo Cairoli, Randy Walls

VLN favourites and Porsche wizards Manthey Racing bring a squad of gentlemen drivers and Porsche Juniors to the Rolex this year. Steve Smith, Hari Proczyk and Randy Walls bring a wealth of experience in VLN and 24H series competition, but it’s hard to argue their lower driver ratings are unfair when you consider the speed and experience of others elsewhere in the category – that said, Proczyk is competitive in TCR machinery back in Europe. Sven Müller is the reigning Porsche Supercup champion; the factory Porsche driver took third at Spa in his only WEC start back in 2015 and showed impressively in Super GT with D’Station Racing last year. Matteo Cairoli ran a full WEC season in 2017 alongside Porsche stalwart Christian Ried and upcoming talent Marvin Dienst, showing himself to be the equal of hugely respected GT aces including Pedro Lamy and Matt Griffin. Both Porsche men supported the Manthey Racing team at the Rolex last year, but the car retired early on. A finish and some fun will be the aim for 2018.

 

#63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 / Alessandro Balzan, Cooper MacNeil, Gunnar Jeannette, Jeff Segal

Alessandro Balzan is now, no arguments, one of the fastest men in North American GT racing. The hero stints to round out Scuderia Corsa’s races in the past few years have endeared him to fans who love his smile, grit and love for developing the racecraft of his co-drivers. Cooper MacNeil, backed by series sponsor WeatherTech, will be on the receiving end of that love in 2018. With last year’s Riley-backed Mercedes ditched in favour of the Ferrari 488, MacNeil will be hoping to cash in on some of the on-track and pit wall talent that helped Christina Nielsen to successive championships. All-round madman squirrel flyer, rock climber and fast racer Gunnar Jeannette is present too – a minor miracle, given the awful accident he had at Daytona’s HSR races back in November. Jeannette made his US sportscar debut way back in 2000, and has taken the LMPC drivers title and class podiums at Le Mans since then. Jeff Segal is a Scuderia Corsa regular, coming back into the fold after a year away with Michael Shank Racing and the new Acura NSX GT3. Segal has a third and a class win from his two appearances at Le Mans, both in Scuderia Corsa Ferraris. He is also a two-time Grand-Am GT class champion.

 

#64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 / Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler, Frankie Montecalvo, Sam Bird

Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler stay together for another year, the successful coach-gentleman pairing looking to add victory at the Rolex 24 to their Le Mans win. Bell won the Indy Lights championship back in 2001, then regularly raced in CART and IndyCar as well as testing for Formula 1 teams. Sharing endurance drives with Sweedler since 2012, Bell won both the Rolex 24 and Sebring 12 Hours on his debut, and has a win and two podiums from his Le Mans starts, all with Scuderia Corsa. Private equity exec Bill Sweedler has been coached to all the big wins by Bell – Le Mans, Sebring and Daytona victories came, as well as the 2015 GTD championship. Third driver Frankie Montecalvo brings prototype and GT experience from both sides of the Atlantic – as well as working on car development with Multimatic, he’s been vice-champion in LMPC, Pirelli World Challenge GTA champion and second overall at the Dubai 24H. Factory Ferrari driver Sam Bird joins for Daytona – the Brit had a trying time there last year, mechanical problems troubling his run with Balzan and Nielsen. If the track record of this driver squad is anything to go by, he’ll be in with a shot of going home with a Rolex after the race.

 

#69 HART Acura NSX GT3 / Chad Gilsinger, Ryan Eversley, Sean Rayhall, John Falb

This team are a bunch of part-timers. No, really. The crew are all Honda employees who do this for fun, in their spare time. They get to go racing, and the car gets fixed quickly because these are the people who designed and build it. HART supported last year’s factory-backed Michael Shank Racing NSX GT3 campaign, and are running the endurance rounds in 2018. Chad Gilsinger is team leader at Daytona but pays the bills as a Vehicle Dynamics Test Engineer in Honda’s R&D department. Ryan Eversley is a factory Acura driver, brought in to anchor the effort and provide wisdom, experience and the inside story on recording Season 3 of his podcast, ‘Dinner With Racers’. Sean Rayhall and John Falb come off the back of the 2017 European Le Mans Series LMP3 championship with United Autosports, but this will be their first race in a GT car. HART plans to contest all the endurance rounds of the IMSA calendar, in what’s going to be their highest-level season of racing yet.

 

#71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 / Kenton Koch, Robert Foley III, Loris Spinelli, JC Perez

Prototype Lites, LMP3 and LMPC man Kenton Koch gets into a GT this year, anchoring the wildly-painted P1 Motorsports entry with design courtesy of Andy Blackmore, of Spotters Guide fame. Robert Foley III’s name isn’t the best known here had a promising early career in karts and autocross, but racing was put on hold after heavy injuries from American football, including multiple ligament tears and fractures in his leg and ankle. Once he’d recovered enough to drive, Foley took Skip Barber racing school, then Winter Series, scholarships and Rookie of the Year. Competitive seat time in MX-5 Cup cars resulted in the 2015 Skip Barber Pro Challenge title and scholarship funding last year. Loris Spinelli is part of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse, and came up through Italian single seaters Formula Abarth and Auto GP before immediately making his mark in Super Trofeo. Very strong showings at the 2017 Lamborghini World Finals at Imola were a statement of intent from the Italian, looking to break into world-class GT racing. Juan Perez had an unremarkable year in Super Trofeo North America last year, but managed to win a race at the 2017 Lamborghini World Finals. P1 won the IMSA Prototype Challenge title last year and have run in Super Trofeo before. Regardless, this will be a learning race for them, but there are names to keep an eye on in future here. Per

 

#73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R / Patrick Lindsey, Jörg Bergmeister, Tim Pappas

Patrick Lindsey is back with Jörg Bergmeister for another year after two successful seasons as a customer team driver pairing. Victory at Lime Rock Park last year sparked a run of podiums that took the two to third in the GTD championship in the Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, including third place at Petit Le Mans with Matt McMurry as third driver. Bergmeister’s Porsche career includes a Supercup championship, a win and three podiums at Le Mans, an overall win at the Rolex 24, five American Le Mans Series GT championships, a Grand-Am DP championship and a 24 Hours of Spa victory. Third driver Tim Pappas was the man behind Black Swan Racing and won two American Le Mans Series GTC championships before moving to Pirelli World Challenge, and now comes back full circle to race a Porsche again. Pappas has a Sebring 12 Hour victory, but no Rolex. There may not be the

 

#75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 / Kenny Habul, Thomas Jäger, Maro Engel

US-based Australian Kenny Habul brings the wildly-liveried Mercedes-AMG GT3 back for another full season in GTD. Habul’s track experience goes back to the 1990s and includes Australian Formula Ford and Formula 3, as well as NASCAR Camping World Truck and XFINITY races. With Spirit of Daytona Racing signing last year’s co-driver Tristan Vautier, factory Mercedes development driver Thomas Jäger lines up alongside Habul – he loved his debut at Daytona last year despite a DNF, and brings enormous technical knowledge of the car. His racing history includes German Formula 3 and several years in DTM, as well as an overall win on his debut at the Bathurst 12 Hours. Mercedes-AMG reaffirm their commitment to SunEnergy1 in the third driver too – AMG Customer sports regular Maro Engel is back for the second year in a row with SunEnergy1 racing. Engel is a GT3 superstar whose trophy cabinet includes two GT wins in the streets of Macau as well as a VLN race and Australian GT. Engel has also competed in LMPC for Starworks Motorsport at the endurance rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. With this effort being run by Riley Technologies for 2018, expect a step up on the technical side as the American endurance legends make their presence known.

 

#82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 / Ricardo Pérez, Martin Fuentes, Santiago Creel, Miguel Molina

Despite not being able to commit their GTLM entry for the full season, Risi Competizione field a GT3-spec Ferrari 488 for the Mexican trio of Pérez, Fuentes and Creel. Pérez is no stranger to prancing horses, having won the 2014 Ferrari Challenge championship in the Ferrari of Houston car – a major Risi sponsor. He competed with TRG-AMR at the Rolex 24 in 2016. Fuentes was the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GTA class champion and took third place in the 2014 LMPC class championship. He’s no stranger to endurance racing, having multiple starts at Daytona as well as experience at Sebring and Petit Le Mans. Creel has extensive race mileage in Porsche 911s, having driven in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Mobil 1 Supercup, but drove the front-engined Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 at Daytona in 2016 alongside Ricardo Pérez. He has also competed in the Dubai 24H, Barcelona 24H and endurance races in Mexico. Ferrari factory driver Miguel Molina makes his debut at the Rolex 24 this year, joining Risi Competizione to help the new driver squad gel and find the groove in the Ferrari 488 GT3. Molina drove a 488 GTLM in the 2017 WEC for Spirit of Race, immediately adapting his DTM experience to GT racing to take victory at a rain-shortened Fuji round and three other podiums alongside gentleman driver Thomas Flohr and customer Ferrari regular Francesco Castellacci. Risi took five podiums from the seven races they ran last season and have quiet GT3 experience with at least one other GT3-spec car in their possession.

 

#86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 / Katherine Legge, Trent Hindman, AJ Allmendinger, Álvaro Parente

Katherine Legge took two wins and two podiums in the NSX last year alongside Andy Lally, and comes back for another season with Michael Shank Racing as a full customer effort. Her introduction to IMSA racing came as a longtime pilot of the DeltaWing, including a fourth at Petit Le Mans in 2014. Three DNFs and an 11th are the sum total of her Rolex history, but with a year of development and reliability the Acura NSX GT3 is certainly capable of delivering a good result. Legge is joined for the full season by recent Lamborghini World Finals champion and 2014 Continental Tire Challenge GS Class champion Trent Hindman, who makes his debut in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Hindman’s been supported by BMW, and co-drove a Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW 235i Racing Cup with Victor Bouveng, Louis Delétraz and Dirk Adorf in the 2015 Zolder 24 Hours. Michael Shank Racing golden boy AJ Allmendinger is back for yet another race with the team, and knows his way around Daytona. He won the 2012 Rolex 24 Hours for Shank alongside Justin Wilson, John Pew and Ozz Negri; he also came second in 2006 and third in 2013. McLaren man Parente is in for the Rolex too – rumoured to be available due to McLaren developing an in-house GT division rather than keeping Andrew Kirkaldy’s CRS team contracted to run their GT racing.

 

#93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 / Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach, Mario Farnbacher, Côme Ledogar

Justin Marks, former endurance man for Turner Motorsport and Lawson Aschenbach, longtime Stevenson Motorsport gun team up for 2018 in the second MSR Acura. Marks won the GT class at Daytona in 2009 and has made a decent reputation for himself in NASCAR series including XFINITY and Camping World Trucks alongside being a professional businessman from Monday to Friday. Pro racer Lawson Aschenbach is a four-time Pirelli World Challenge champion, Pro-Am Lamborghini Super Trofeo champion and ST class Continental Series champion. Mario Farnbacher raced alongside his brother Dominik in VLN last year, the two taking the first win for the Lexus RC F GT3 at the Nordschliefe. He also has two class wins at Sebring and co-drove alongside Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Riley Motorsports Team AMG Mercedes at the endurance rounds last year. McLaren racer Côme Ledogar is rumoured to be in the same position as Parente, being more loosely contractually bound and able to race beyond his McLaren GT customer commitments. He followed Kevin Estre into McLaren from Porsche racing, getting his break into McLaren following a Spa 24 Hours run in a Hexis Racing-run 12C GT3. He came third at the Bathurst 12 Hour last year, and won the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series.

 

#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 / Jens Klingmann, Don Yount, Mark Kvamme

With Jesse Krohn promoted to the factory team and Justin Marks moving to Michael Shank Racing for a full season, Turner Motorsport is running with one entry in 2018. BMW factory driver Jens Klingmann is confirmed with Turner for the Rolex. Klingmann made his break into GT racing with Alpina in 2009, running in the ADAC GT Masters and GT3 European Championship. Klingmann came to the States in 2015, racing for Turner in the endurance rounds and taking a podium at Petit Le Mans on his debut there. Two full seasons since have yielded another Sebring podium alongside Bret Curtis and Ashley Freiberg as well as three wins. Gentleman racer Don Yount ran the full series in BAR1 Motorsports’ LMPC entry last year, losing out to the Performance Tech juggernaut but coming second in the championship. Yount is also an SCCA regional champion and has run the fan favourite Gas Monkey colours on his cars. Mark Kvamme is another gentleman driver – venture capitalist in the week and sports car driver at weekends. He spent the last two years racing LMPC for Starworks and BAR1 Motorsports, but has GT experience in IMSA series too. The lateness of this deal and single car effort speaks volumes about the financial pressure of GTD in 2018 – this is one of the cars targeting fun and a finish.

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