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37 Cars for Petit Le Mans

Entry list released for final round of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

A total of 37 cars are on the entry list for next weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans, which will close out the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

The number is three higher than the penultimate round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with the appearances of Performance Tech Motorsports in Prototype, Risi Competizione in GTLM and Montaplast by Land-Motorsport in GTD.

Fourteen cars are listed in the Prototype class with most entries carrying an additional driver for the 10-hour race.

Timo Bernhard and Norman Nato will step in for their respective debuts with Tequila Patron ESM squad, while Marino Franchitti will partner Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest entry.

Franchitti comes in to replace Harry Tincknell, who is unable to make the trip to Road Atlanta because of the clashing FIA World Endurance Championship round at Fuji.

The sister No. 77 Mazda RT24-P DPi, meanwhile, will see 2016-17 Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi partner Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez.

It will mark the former Audi LMP1 star’s first appearance in WeatherTech Championship competition.

Elsewhere, Wayne Taylor Racing only has Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande listed in its Cadillac DPi-V.R after contesting Daytona and Sebring with former IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay. 

The publication of the entry list has also confirmed Toni Vilander, Miguel Molina and Andrea Bertolini in the previously-announced Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE for the Houston-based team’s first outing since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Pirelli World Challenge SprintX GT champions Vilander and Molina, who are both Ferrari factory drivers, will be joined by Bertolini who is set to make his first IMSA race appearance since 2016.

Nine cars are listed in GT Le Mans as a result of Risi joining the field, which also includes the usual two cars apiece for Corvette, Ford, Porsche and BMW.

Virgin Australia Supercars star Chaz Mostert will make his series debut in one of the RLL-entered BMW M8 GTEs, while Marcel Fassler is currently listed in both Corvette C7.Rs.

This is because Mike Rockenfeller, who is the usual ‘endurance’ driver in the No. 3 Corvette, has a commitment clash with the DTM season finale.

In GT Daytona, P1 Motorsports is a new entry with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 to be driven by factory driver Maximilian Buhk, Brazilian racer Felipe Fraga and JC Perez.

The addition of the IMSA Prototype Challenge squad counters the omission of the Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari, which only committed to select rounds this year, while Montaplast by Land Motorsport boosts the GTD car count up to 14 with its already-announced driver lineup.

Spirit of Daytona to Miss Season Finale 

The Troy Flis-led Spirit of Daytona squad, which had planned to return for the season-ending round, will not take part as originally scheduled.

While an official statement has not been released, Sportscar365 understands that continued budget-related issues is likely cause for its withdrawal. 

The team made only four starts this year with its new-for-2018 Cadillac DPi-V.R package, following crash damage at Sebring that initially put them out of action at Long Beach and Mid-Ohio, before returning for Detroit and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Joel

    October 3, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Yacaman?

    • Mike S.

      October 3, 2018 at 9:20 pm

      He gone. Yac attack is out. Needs to clear his head after Monterey.

      • NoThanksYac

        October 4, 2018 at 2:39 am

        Especially after he didn’t clear the Mazda….

  2. jason

    October 3, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    37 cars is good. Don’t want a number too high in this day and age. Cars are reliable from a mechanical stand point now. Road Atlanta can breed safety car periods even if the track is not over crowded.

    With that said I also hope the Daytona 24 in a few months does not exceed 46 cars. We all saw how great that event is when get long green runs.

    I admit I bring this up a lot in comments and discussion forums. But I truly feel that too much safety car time (both in frequency and length) is an eye sore on auto racing today. It can ruin the integrity of the competition by artificially bunching cars up all the time. NASCAR of course has had this issue for years. But it has sadly been an issue in sportscar endurance racing, and it takes the “endurance” out of endurance and it continues to spread globally now as shown by how SRO races and the Bathurst 12 have been hurt by having so many of them.

    • weird

      October 3, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      doesnt matter if there’s more than 46 cars at Daytona. There was no PC class this year, so the number of cautions, at all races, was greatly reduced. No inexperienced drivers in cars that were only slightly faster than GTLM, but hard to see.

    • Kirk

      October 3, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      It’s not so much the number of cars as it is how the organizers run the races. If IMSA ran it’s races like the WEC (VSC’s, local cautions, etc.) instead of like NASCAR (only full course cautions) then there wouldn’t be yellow flags bunching up the field all the time. Yellow flags simply don’t work with multi-class racing. Every time one is thrown it messes up somebody’s race – especially for whichever class isn’t the overall leader.

      • Slicks in the wet

        October 4, 2018 at 7:18 am

        I think, at the very least IMSA needs to do local cautions only for the enduros.

        I can understand FCY on the sprints…because…honestly, less than 3 hours of racing is so little that the winners would be known (barring crash/mechanical) by about 40 minutes in…there simply isnt enough time to run out real strategy calls in such a short race.

        So, either every race is 4 hours or run two sets of caution procedures. I know the teams dont wanna do more miles/hours, so that means a clunky solution of two yellow flag procedures.

        • Dave

          October 4, 2018 at 3:49 pm

          There is a lot more to the full course yellow than just bunching up the fields and (when directed) class waive arounds. Most teams strategize based on FCYs for pit strategy, fuel, tires, and driver changes. Also diving in to the pits in anticipation of a FCY can be a big benefit to a team, or a big mistake if the FCY doesn’t materialize. I am not sure what the answer is that makes for the most satisfying viewing, but FCYs are not without their own interest factor to the overall race. As pointed out, in the sprint races, if you go up a lap (or even 1/2 lap), you are virtually unbeatable. That could result in the race being over early if someone catches the right breaks with VSC or local yellow. Pretty sure this system cemented Porsche’s GTE victory at Le Mans this year. Not blaming them – congratulations on the victory – but there are drawbacks to that system too.

    • Mike S.

      October 3, 2018 at 9:19 pm

      Don’ forget old mother nature as well. Can’t control it but if it rains so heavy that they can’t race that is uncontrollable and we have seen many lengthy delays in the world at the enduros (ask the Merc guys that lost a 10 minute or so lead at N24 due to red flag for rain) and Petit has had some as well in recent memory.

  3. Sportz

    October 3, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    P1 Motorsports raced at Daytona didn’t they?

    • P1 but Really PAlmostLast

      October 4, 2018 at 2:40 am

      Sebring for a few laps also.

  4. David Chaste

    October 3, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    The weathertexh car has a 3rd driver a shickingly it’s not even Alessandro Balzan.

    I really wonder if it’s the height difference with him and Cooper that has kept him out. Too bad… Balzan has mastered IMSA GTD and knows what it takes to win the title in a ferrari.

    • KW

      October 4, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      I guess the pairing Balzan/McNeil didn’t fit at the beginning of the year…
      But Daniel Serra is not a bad choice, he was not outstanding at Aston Martin, but has performed well in several GT cars.

  5. Steven

    October 3, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Fassler in both Corvettes?

    • Steven

      October 3, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      Nevermind, just saw the one sentence that mentioned it. Gonna be a long race for Fassler then.

    • KW

      October 4, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      Yes, Rocky has to do the DTM season final at Hockenheim.

  6. Matt

    October 3, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Surprised there aren’t more European P2 teams coming over considering this will be the last race that P2 can compete evenly with DPi.

    • Matt

      October 3, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      And CJ Wilson doesn’t like Road Atlanta I guess.

    • Andy Flinn

      October 3, 2018 at 8:18 pm

      Matt, if by “compete evenly” you mean that LMP2 pro-am driver lineups can win against restricted DPis with all-pro driver lineups, then yeah, thankfully this will probably be the last year and the last race for that in IMSA.

      I can’t wait for next year. That’s when the LMP2s will be placed in their own class (possibly an Oreca spec class) and IMSA can finally take the shackles off the DPis. Maybe then we can see what DPis can really do.

      Hopefully, next year we’ll be done with the DPi (DP) versus LMP2 nonsense that’s been hovering over this series like a gray cloud for the better part of the past five years.

      I’ll be at Turn 7 again this year. It should be fun.

      • Tim

        October 4, 2018 at 12:10 am

        Make all dpis available to customers and maybe I’ll dance. Otherwise be happy every race next year will be a bop nightmare because a precious manufacturer isn’t sitting on pole leading every lap and winning.

        • Andy Flinn

          October 4, 2018 at 7:47 am

          Tim, I’d look forward to that, if it happens, compared to endless LMP2 versus DPi complaints and what will most likely be a spec (all Oreca) LMP2 class next year.

      • Tires Not Tyres

        October 4, 2018 at 2:41 am

        Plus – Michelin Tires. #Speed

  7. Haskellb

    October 3, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    I wonder what kind of trouble Montaplast will find this time.

    • KW

      October 4, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      They might try out a cheap fuel valve which G-Drive/TDS has for sale 🙂

  8. Tim

    October 4, 2018 at 12:14 am

    How did Spirit get gm approval if they are rolling change for gas budget?

    • Matt

      October 4, 2018 at 11:08 pm

      Why wouldn’t GM want to sell more cars? Every DPi should be available for sale in the same regard.

  9. Dan

    October 4, 2018 at 5:38 am

    Risi With Bertolini? Ridiculous. He is too old and too slow. Malucelli would have been a better choice

    • jason

      October 4, 2018 at 8:34 am

      Balzan is available now

    • Matt

      October 4, 2018 at 11:09 pm

      Risi won’t accept Malucelli. He’s a pinball.

      • daedalus

        October 5, 2018 at 4:22 am

        Bertolini is a safe pair of hands compared to Malucelli, he is still on the pace of the other drivers, in a 10hr race you want a wise experienced head like Bertolini rather that some of the younger gung ho drivers.

  10. tracer

    October 4, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Chaz Mostert in one of the RLL BMWs?? Where in the heck did that come from? I can’t remember the last time anyone outside the factory BMW driver pool was placed in one of their works GT cars for an IMSA race, especially one of the big enduros like Petit. Definitley a nice surprise and I’m looking forward to seeing how Chaz does over the weekend.

    • Mike D

      October 4, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      He’s run factory-backed BMWs before at the Bathurst 12hr & Macau.

      BMW’s normal contingent of 3rd drivers aren’t available. Spengler/Wittmann/Farfus/Eng (amongst others) are on DTM duty, Tomczyk/Catsburg/Blomqvist/Felix da Costa running WEC.

      • Travis McBee

        October 4, 2018 at 5:52 pm

        Chaz has also ran in the Asian LMS and BES with BMW and factory backing by them as well.

    • Matt

      October 4, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      Rahal used to drive with them all the time.

  11. RobertB

    October 4, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Could this finally be Mazda’s day? Could it? Maybe?

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