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2018 IMSA Silly Season Update: GTD

A look at the confirmed and possible GT Daytona entries for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship…

Photo: Peter Burke/IMSA

In the latest Silly Season update, Sportscar365 looks at the confirmed, likely and possible GT Daytona class entries for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Scuderia Corsa (Ferrari) — The three-time and defending GT Daytona class champions will return with a revised driver lineup and new colors, with Cooper MacNeil joining Alessandro Balzan at the wheel of the now WeatherTech-sponsored Ferrari 488 GT3. Jeff Segal will complete the team’s lineup for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. (1 car confirmed)

Riley Team AMG (Mercedes-AMG) — Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen are set to return to the Riley Motorsports-run operation for a second consecutive year with its Mercedes-AMG GT3. (1 car confirmed)

Michael Shank Racing (Acura) — Look for up to two full-season Acura NSX GT3s fielded by the Ohio-based team, which reverts to full customer status next year. Spencer Pumpelly, who was recently re-classified to Silver by the FIA, has been tipped for one of the seats, in what could be an entirely new driver lineup. An announcement is set to come next week at the PRI show. (2 cars likely)

Paul Miller Racing (Lamborghini) — While yet to officially confirm its return, it’s believed no major changes are in the works for the longtime GT Daytona entrant. Paul Miller Racing is expected to continue fielding a Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which featured Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow this year. (1 car likely)

Wayne Taylor Racing (Lamborghini) — The reigning Prototype champions are poised to expand into the GTD ranks, with up to two Lamborghinis entered either under the WTR or Prestige Performance banner. While drivers have yet to be announced, a number of experienced GTD pilots have driven for the team in Lamborghini Super Trofeo, including Trent Hindman and Katherine Legge. (1-2 cars likely)

3GT Racing (Lexus) — The Paul Gentiolozzi-led team is expected to return as a customer operation with two upgraded Lexus RC F GT3s. However, the IMSA-mandated ceasing of factory involvement will also likely affect 3GT’s driver lineup, which featured three Lexus factory drivers this year. (2 cars likely)

Park Place Motorsports — While poised to return to GTD, Park Place’s entry could feature an all-new driver lineup and car. It’s understood two-time class champion Christina Nielsen is close to a deal with the team, which could also see a rumored switch from its Porsche 911 GT3 R to a Mercedes-AMG GT3. (1 car likely)

Magnus Racing (Audi) — After a one-year stint in Pirelli World Challenge, the John Potter-owned team is likely to return to GTD competition, although final confirmation is still forthcoming. Wherever Magnus races, it will be again with Andy Lally, who was announced last month in rejoining the team for 2018. (1 car likely)

Land Motorsport (Audi) — Following a three-race campaign this year, highlighted by class victory at Petit Le Mans, the German squad is set to take on full-season effort with an Audi R8 LMS. With Connor De Phillippi departing for BMW Team RLL, brothers Kelvin and Sheldon van der Linde could spearhead the lineup alongside Christopher Mies for Daytona. A second entry hasn’t been ruled out for the endurance races. (1 car confirmed)

SunEnergy1 Racing (Mercedes-AMG) — All indications are that SunEnergy1 Racing will continue next year, likely with its Mercedes-AMG GT3. Tristan Vautier was joined by team owner Kenny Habul for the majority of the races in 2017, with Dion von Moltke assisting the team in the second half of the year, which included a race outing at Motul Petit Le Mans. (1 car likely)

Alegra Motorsports (Porsche) — The 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona class winners could end up being the sole full-season flag bearer for Porsche in GTD, should it formally commit to a return. The Florida-based team will be taking part in next week’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona, running Porsche’s new evo kit for its 911 GT3 R, with Joerg Bergmeister and Michael de Quesada listed as drivers. (1 car possible)

Turner Motorsport (BMW) — While still yet to confirm its program, the Will Turner-led squad is likely to be on the grid at Daytona with at least one BMW M6 GT3 car, as it continues to search for funded drivers for the season. (1 car possible)

Ex-Stevenson Team (Audi) — An active effort is being made by former Stevenson Motorsports team manager Mike Johnson to keep the core group of the North Carolina-based team intact to run an Audi. While Johnson says the odds for a full-season effort are currently “less than 50/50” he’s received numerous inquiries in recent weeks and is hopeful of at least being on the grid for Daytona. (1 car possible)

Change Racing — The future of Robby Benton’s race-winning GTD operation is unclear, amid conflicting reports that have linked the team to a return or shifting its focus entirely to Lamborghini Super Trofeo. (unknown)

Risi Competizione (Ferrari) — The status of a possible customer program for the Houston-based team remains unknown, after having nearly debuted one of its new Ferrari 488 GT3 cars this year. A full-season GTD effort is believed to be one of the possibilities for 2018. (unknown)

American Spirit Racing — The former open-wheel and ALMS entrant could resurface next year, with the Jon Lewis-owned operation having announced intentions of multiple programs for 2018, including a potential Audi entry. (1 car possible)

P1 Motorsports (Mercedes-AMG) — The upstart Florida-based team, which fielded entries in both IMSA Prototype Challenge powered by Mazda and Lamborghini Super Trofeo this year, will expand into the GTD ranks  with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 for a Tequila Patron Endurance Cup-only campaign. (1 car confirmed)

GMG Racing (Porsche) — The California-based squad, which captured multiple PWC titles this year, is understood to be finalizing a Patron Endurance Cup-only campaign with one of its GT3-spec Porsches. Should the program materialize, look for Alec Udell to be one of the drivers. (1 car likely for NAEC)

HART (Acura) — After assisting Michael Shank Racing throughout this year, the Honda of America Racing Team is finalizing a limited-season program with a leased/borrowed Acura. It’s understood the team will likely be on the grid for the Rolex 24, with its initial target comprising of the Patron Endurance Cup rounds, plus its home race at Mid-Ohio. (1 car likely for NAEC)

Additional Entries Expected for Daytona

A number of one-off or ‘Florida 36 Hours’ efforts are expected to complete the bumper grid for Daytona, including possible entries from leading Blancpain GT Series squads Grasser Racing Team and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. The AF Corse-run Spirit of Race operation could also make the trip back to Daytona.

Full-Season Entry Projection: 12-19 cars
Additional Cars for Daytona: 4-8

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Ryan

    December 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Any word on Konrad, EbiMotors or Manthey racing for Daytona?

    • MGO

      December 2, 2017 at 11:13 am

      How about TRG ? I sure would like to see more 911’s especially at Daytona.

      • jaysfan

        December 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        TRG seem to have trouble making up their mind if they want to run Porsche or Aston Martin

    • MarcusM

      December 2, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      Manthey Racing regular privatier driver Steve Smith confirmed at COTA24h that the team will enter a 911 GT3 R at Daytona.

  2. jason

    December 1, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Great posing John. Surprised to even see a GTD silly season article at this point. If you think about it, the first NON-endurance GTD race is Mid Ohio in May. So these teams in theory have still almost 5 months to establish a full season program apart from the 36 hour of florida races. I believe teams like Turner and Alegra did not finalize full season efforts until after Sebring in 2017.

    • TailsLeMans722

      December 1, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      That would certainly explain why so much is up in the air around GTD at this point.

      It also amazes me that there is a possibility that Prototype could end up becoming the largest full-season IWSC category this year, or at the very least a close second to GTD.

  3. naracecar

    December 1, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Tullman Walker said no for 2018, but moving to 2019 for the Porsche

    • Matt

      December 1, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Yeah it’s a load of BS he says that every year.

      • naracecar

        December 2, 2017 at 2:22 pm

        It’s because of injury and recovery

  4. jason

    December 1, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you. Yeah I think for John to post another GTD silly season article as late as next April would not be an out of place idea.

  5. Kurt

    December 1, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Jon Lewis! Ha! How on earth does this guy keep turning up after all the people he’s done over.

  6. Tim

    December 1, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Park Place seems like it would be a good fit for Christina. Hope they stay with Porsche though.

    Also happy to see another NSX and that the Ex Stevenson team is trying to stick around.

  7. Azuma

    December 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Maybe if Change Racing does race, it would be a great team to take on the Corvette C7 GT3-R. If the C7 GT3 is still open to eligibility in GTD.

    • Barber

      December 1, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      The C7 GT3 is eligible. I rather see Stevenson race them tho. I can only dream.aber

      • Thomas

        December 2, 2017 at 1:48 am

        Stevenson no longer exists

        • Barber

          December 2, 2017 at 10:18 am

          The name doesn’t but the team that was Stevenson is still together.

    • jaysfan

      December 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      The only way Corvette C7 will run GTD class is with Calloway and not through GM effort and Calloway plan to run World Challenge in GT class, however, they did say they’re looking for customer team to run IMSA

  8. Kyle

    December 1, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Would love to see Christina wind up with Park Place. Though I REALLY hope they stick with the 911.

  9. Matt

    December 1, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    No word on Black Swan?

    • Rocket J. Squirrel

      December 1, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      He’ll probably start off the year in WC before switching to IMSA at some point, probably buying at least one but maybe two new car(s) in the process.

  10. guest

    December 1, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Team WRT for Daytona?!? Hoping that happens!

  11. Tim

    December 1, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Didn’t see anything about ESM. Any word on the ESM GTD? Was hoping to see either a GT-R or another Ferrari.

  12. Jon

    December 2, 2017 at 12:49 am

    The real question is will the WeatherTech entry still be a Ferrari when they get to the final race of the season at Road Atlanta? 🙂

    • Mike S

      December 2, 2017 at 6:11 am

      Yeah that would be a harder pull this season to change with Scuderia and a Ferrari factory driver in Balzan. The Ferrari is so well balanced though I don’t think, well outside the dreaded BoP, it will happen this time.
      I thought Pumpelly being downgraded in his rating (another dreaded issue) would help his chances to get back into top IMSA series. Glad he’s back. He always runs hard.
      Shame that money gets a ride, Cooper and champion Nielsen is hunting for a ride. How it works all business. I like Balzan a lot and now has a partner that is not a favorite of mine.

    • John

      December 3, 2017 at 6:24 am

      It seems that IMSA wrote new rules in the 2018 regs to give it the discretion to prevent such shenanigans. (Rules 3.8.5, 23.4)

      The “Cooper MacNeil Rule,” if you will.

      • Andy Flinn

        December 4, 2017 at 5:10 pm

        Sorry, that rule is stupid.

        Honestly, who cares how many different types of cars a driver races in their quest to win a series championship? And wouldn’t demonstrating the ability to win races in a variety of different cars make someone a BETTER driver and MORE worthy of a series driving championship?

        In 1983, Wayne Baker won the IMSA Camel GTO championship by driving a Porsche 934 (won Sebring, Road Atlanta and Riverside), a Porsche Carrera and a Pontiac Firebird.

        Gene Felton had a real shot at the 1984 IMSA Camel GTO championship driving and winning races in a variety of Camaros, Corvettes and Firebirds, before he ultimately suffered a serious crash in a Trans-Am race Riverside.

        These are the kinds of decisions that are going to make IMSA a boring series.

  13. Georg

    December 2, 2017 at 5:55 am

    What’s the word on Turner Motorsport, John?

    It would be sad not to have at least one M6 on the grid next year.

  14. DanO

    December 2, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Given that the Park Place information is false, and looking at some of the other names mentioned, I would be surprised to see those numbers on the grids.

  15. Rocket J Squirrel

    December 2, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Park Place outright denies this and Shank says it’s not quite right. Oughta be a fun ride.

  16. Jeremy

    December 2, 2017 at 9:58 am

    The same thing happens with Turner every year, they struggle to find funded drivers. With the addition of an M4 GT4 program, it may be less likely for a full season but more likely TPNAEC as well as VIR and Lime Rock (Hoping for Mosport too). I expect the Turner boys to make a late announcement closer to Roar with a confirmed driver lineup and 1 m6GT3 in the field for Daytona and Sebring atleast. They had a successful second half of last season and are always a dark horse team. I would expect to see them on the grid, just be patient

    • Matt

      December 2, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      It’s unfortunate the M6 is such a junk car, people aren’t as willing to pay to drive the worst car available to them. It’s a shame because Turner is a great team and it’s not their fault.

      • naracecar

        December 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm

        The team fished 4th overall, won and finished on the podium multiple times. How is the car junk?

        • Matt

          December 2, 2017 at 2:54 pm

          Did well only with big BoP help and due to the team being great. It’s a big, bulky, unaerodynamic car with poor weight distribution compared to its competition. Most drivers who drive it admit it’s not the best car and that’s why there are so few if them racing over here.

          • naracecar

            December 2, 2017 at 4:43 pm

            The whole GT3 category is built upon BoP.

          • John

            December 3, 2017 at 6:15 am

            Any M6 appearing on the grid in 2018 would presumably have the Evo update kit applied.

            BMW does have a thing for racing their big coupes, though, even when the production versions are now even father removed from the svelte E9s that started the whole thing.

            In GTLM, the M6 and Ford GT look like they should be in separate classes, and things won’t change with the M8.

  17. Just a guy

    December 2, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    The champion will be in a Porsche, but not with Park Place from what I have heard. Seems like she is making all the wright moves….

    • Gene in Florida

      December 4, 2017 at 11:38 am

      I see what you did there….

  18. Sol Shine

    December 4, 2017 at 10:46 am

    What is Porsche’s “evo kit”? A tiny upgrade like moving the engine into the back seat? Or perhaps a new ECU that makes 400hp when IMSA is plugged into it and 600 when they’re not. Wouldn’t trust any VW brand to understand what “rules” are.

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