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2018 IMSA Silly Season Update: GTLM

Sportscar365 looks at the confirmed and likely entries for the GT Le Mans class in the WeatherTech Championship next year…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

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

Corvette Racing — The 2017 GT Le Mans class championship-winning team is expected to remain with a largely unchanged effort next year, with Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and newly crowned drivers’ champions Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen all due back behind the wheel of the Pratt & Miller-run squad’s Corvette C7.Rs. No definitive word, however, has been given on the team’s endurance drivers. (2 cars confirmed)

BMW Team RLL — Bobby Rahal’s squad will continue with the German manufacturer for what will be its 10th season together, and fourth different BMW model to debut. Look for at least one change in the full-season driver lineup, with Connor De Phillippi rumored to be joining the team, possibly at the expense of either Martyn Tomcyk or Alexander Sims, who could be moved to BMW’s new FIA World Endurance Championship program. Kuno Wittmer, meanwhile, will not return for 2018, leaving a seat open for the endurance races. Drivers for the BMW M8 GTE program will be announced at BMW’s Sport Trophy awards night in Munich next month. (2 cars confirmed)

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing — Very few changes are also expected at Ford, despite all of the driver contracts being up for renewal. Look for Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook to all likely return to the wheel of the two Ford GTs. The shape of FCGR’s endurance lineup, however, could change, with Tony Kanaan unlikely to continue with the team amid his switch to AJ Foyt Racing in IndyCar. It’s understood a third or fourth entry for Daytona and Sebring, as was the case this year, remains a possibility. (2 cars confirmed)

Porsche GT Team — Porsche’s second year with the mid-engined 911 RSR will result in a revised driver lineup in IMSA, with both Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber set to return Stateside following the conclusion of the German manufacturer’s LMP1 program. They will likely replace Gianmaria Bruni and Laurens Vanthoor, who are likely to take seats in Porsche’s GTE-Pro effort in WEC. An additional works-entered car for the Rolex 24 has been ruled out by Porsche GT boss Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. (2 cars confirmed)

Risi Competizione — The Houston-based team is likely to continue as the lone representative flying the flag for the Prancing Horse in GTLM. It’s understood a deal has not yet been fully reached for a full season campaign, but is expected to happen, despite Risi missing four races last year due to funding issues. Toni Vilander would likely continue, although questions surround the future of Giancarlo Fisichella at Ferrari, with the Italian believed of being courted by BMW. (1 car likely)

Additional One-Offs Unlikely for Daytona

The possibility of single-race entries for the Rolex 24 at Daytona appears to be unlikely at this point. AF Corse, which contested the 2016 race under the SMP Racing banner, has no plans to enter a GTLM car, while Aston Martin Racing has ruled out an early race debut for its new Vantage GTE model. WEC/ELMS stalwarts Proton Competition will also not make the trip to Daytona, after evaluating an entry for last year.

Full-Season Entry Projection: 8-9 cars
Additional Cars for Daytona: 1-2 

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 FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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