Turner Motorsport is set to return to the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge full-season ranks for the first time in six years, in the form of a two-car BMW M4 GT4 program for 2020.
The team entered a BMW in seven of the ten Pilot Challenge races held this year, scoring a best result of sixth at Watkins Glen, but has not competed in the series full-time since 2014.
Its owner Will Turner told Sportscar365 that he plans to run the Pilot Challenge program alongside an expected full-time effort with a BMW M6 GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona class.
“Our IMSA GT4 program is shaping up,” Turner told Sportscar365. “I would say that it’s just about done, but I don’t have all the formalities signed yet.
“We will be running two cars in GS with some drivers who are familiar to the Turner team. It’s good to know what we’re doing next year already. That will go along with our GTD program as well.
“The GTD program looks like it’ll be the same as this year, and we’ve had a strong team and a strong driver lineup. They gelled very well together.
“We’ve had a second GT4 chassis [for a while]. That was the movie-car that was in The Art of Racing in the Rain.
“That was our backup chassis, but it has not raced before. But we are also accepting delivery of another car [this] week, so we have enough cars as far as GT4 is concerned.”
It’s understood that the new third chassis will likely be set up to race straight away, with the car that featured in recent Hollywood release The Art of Racing in the Rain set to remain as the backup.
Turner said that the exposure granted by Pilot Challenge influenced his decision to choose the series over SRO America’s Pirelli-backed GT4 competition.
“As we saw [last] weekend [in Las Vegas], the differences [between IMSA and SRO GT4 events] are fanbase and exposure,” he explained.
“Even at the most remote IMSA races, you can see a fan presence. That means a lot to sponsors and supporters, so it’s easier to justify an IMSA season than an SRO season when you’re relying on these people.
“The race weekends and the venues are really good and it’s a strong series. In the IMSA GS series, you really have to be on you’re a-game to do well, because the top teams have serious players in them.
“It may be a Pro-Am series, but it’s got some of the best drivers around.”
Foley, Auberlen Expected to Remain Involved
Turner suggested that both Robby Foley and Bill Auberlen will feature in Turner Motorsport’s GT3 and GT4 driver lineups next year.
The pair co-drove Turner’s BMW M6 GT3 in the 2019 WeatherTech Championship, winning the recent season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with Dillon Machavern, and also suited up for the team in the part-season Pilot Challenge program.
“Robby Foley will definitely be a part of our GS program and probably Bill too,” confirmed Turner. “It really depends on his schedule and what BMW is doing. Those two guys will be doing GT4.”
Turner then dismissed the possibility that Foley and Auberlen’s full-season GT4 status would prevent them from performing double-duty with the GT3 program.
“We wouldn’t change the GT3 up at all,” he said. “Bill’s just a young whippersnapper so he has no problem doing that!
“Those guys jumped between the GT3 and GT4 a lot this past year, and it’s different, but they can handle it.
“Physically, they’re fine with it, but it’s just mentally a case of changing from superfast to fast and back again.”
According to Turner, the team is also “discussing” options for a return to Blancpain GT World Challenge America with its second BMW GT3 chassis, which raced in the Am class this year.