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Michelin Pilot Challenge

Johnson in Late Addition to Turner BMW GT4 Lineup

Billy Johnson has been added to Turner Motorsport’s MPC lineup for Daytona…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Former series champion Billy Johnson has been confirmed as the third driver of the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 for Friday’s BMW Endurance Classic at Daytona.

Johnson will join full-season drivers Aurora Straus and Connor Bloum in the GS class contender for this week’s four-hour season-opener on a one-off basis.

The former Ford GT factory driver is a seasoned veteran of the IMSA paddock, and no stranger to BMW or Turner Motorsport, having made his GT debut in a BMW M3 with PTG and running with Turner in Grand-Am from 2011 to 2015.

Since then, Johnson has made a name for himself with Ford, winning the Pilot Challenge GS title in 2016 and having been part of the factory Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship until the program’s completion last year.

“It’s great to be back in a BMW, especially since I got my start winning a scholarship as a Factory BMW Junior driver for the inaugural 2004 Formula BMW Championship,” he said.”

“It feels very comfortable to be back with Will and the whole Turner Motorsport team, who I’ve driven for in many GT races over the years.

“I’m excited to be partnered with two fast talents, Aurora and Connor and feel like we have a strong team, car, and driver lineup to take on Daytona.

“The competition in Michelin Pilot Challenge is always very fierce, and with a deep field it always makes for fantastic racing as a driver and for the fans.

“I always enjoy racing in this series. A huge thanks to Nick Longhi for helping organize this program, and to Aurora and Connor for the opportunity.”

Pilot Challenge Field Grows to 51

A total of 51 cars are now confirmed for the season-opening round with the recent announcements of a second Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for Rob Ecklin and Ramin Abdolvahabi and an Audi R8 LMS GT4 out of the Ave Motorsports stable for Mark Brummond and Mike Skeen.

In all 33 GT4-spec cars from eight different manufacturers are set to go in the GS class, featuring a race-high seven Mercedes-AMG GT4s.

Joining them in the field are cars from Ford (6), BMW (5), Audi (4), Aston Martin (4), Chevrolet (3), McLaren (2) and Porsche (2).

The TCR class features as series-record 18 entries.

One change since the initial release of the entry list is the inclusion of IMSA Prototype Challenge racer Ben Waddell in the No. 74 Forty7 Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR alongside former Olympic snowboarder AJ Muss.

Represented among the 18 entries are cars from Audi (6), Honda (6), Hyundai (5), and Alfa Romeo (1).

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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