Michael Cooper has replaced Frank DePew in the No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R for Friday’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season-opener at Daytona.
Team owner/driver DePew has opted out of the four-hour BMW M Endurance Challenge due to a family medical issue, which has seen Cooper drafted in alongside Robin Liddell.
Cooper, who is already on-site for this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona driving a Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 Nissan LMP3 car, got his first laps with the team during Wednesday’s opening practice of the event.
“Frank is incredibly disappointed that he will not be racing, and it’s very unfortunate for all of us,” said Liddell, who doubles in the role of team manager.
“I am thankful that Frank has supported us to be able to race [this] weekend, and we look forward to having him back in action for the next race, when we defend our 2021 victory at Sebring.”
Cooper is a five-time SRO America champion, with much of his success having come with the Pratt & Miller-built Camaro GT4 with Blackdog Speed Shop. He has three previous starts in Pilot Challenge competition.
Liddell handled all of the driving in last weekend’s pre-season test and said he was impressed with the continued improvement of Camaro GT4.
“We had a very good test at the Roar,” he said. “We put a lot of miles on the car, and it has performed very well.
“We think the car is quite competitive, but obviously, at the Roar you never know how it will shake out when you return for the race weekend.
“The Porsches are very fast – it’s a new car, and there’s a lot of them. I’m not sure how we will compete with them, but overall, we’re in pretty good shape.”
The team will be looking to improve n its previous best result of 13th in the Daytona race.
“I like the four-hour races, because it gives a slightly different flavor, and it gives us the feel of an endurance race,” Liddell said.
“It’s long enough to allow you to do some strategy that we don’t get in the shorter races.
“It also gives you time to recover if you’ve had a bit of an issue early on. I think it’s ideal to do it with two drivers – we used to do it with three drivers – but then it puts more pressure on the two drivers and the team.”