It’s been a roller-coaster last couple of months for Ian Willis and the AIM Autosport organization.
The former Rolex Sports Car Series champions were forced on the sidelines in late November after failing to find sufficient funding for its planned Ferrari GTD program.
Willis, who co-owns the Toronto-based team with Andrew Bordin, went to work for Level 5 Motorsports at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, claimed the GTD class victory, and following a strange twist of events, sees his team return to action this weekend at Sebring.
“If you’d ask me three weeks ago what we’d be doing for Sebring, I’d say that I would be working for Level 5,” Willis told Sportscar365.
It all changed late last month when the four-time ALMS champions suddenly pulled the plug on its full-season Ferrari GTD effort, leaving points leaders Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell looking for a new ride.
“We talked with Level 5, found out that this was happening, that they were withdrawing,” Willis explained. “They worked with us to make sure the transition was smooth.
“I’m obviously elated for our team to be able to put this program together, but at the same time, having worked with Level 5 and built some friendships at Daytona, I’m kind of disappointed that program isn’t going forward.
“Knowing what they’re going through, we had gone through that in November and December.”
In the matter of two weeks, AIM Autosport was resurrected, and Willis and co. were in a thrash to get to Sebring for the second round of the TUDOR Championship.
Details such as the transfer of entry had to be sorted by IMSA, while Level 5’s No. 556 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, which the team would be using for the Sebring race, needed to be prepped.
“We were riding this roller-coaster and then realized that we have all this work to get done,” Willis said. “We worked with Level 5 to make sure we get the car, get all the parts we needed to run the car and get all of that sorted.”
The team picked up the car on the way down to Sebring, while only finalizing its full driver lineup on Tuesday.
Jeff Segal, who claimed class victory at Daytona alongside Sweedler and Bell and won the 2012 Rolex Series title with AIM, returns to the team, with Italian sports car ace, Maurizio Mediani completing the four-driver roster.
Mediani, who finished fourth at the Rolex 24 in SMP Racing’s Ferrari, fulfills the GTD class requirement of having a second Bronze or Silver-rated driver in a three or four-driver lineup.
Despite having no previous experience of the 3.7-mile airfield circuit with the GT3-based contender, Willis remains upbeat about their chances for Saturday and the rest of the season.
“Obviously we did very well at Daytona but in endurance racing, the first job is to finish,” he said. “We’ve got a strong driver lineup, we’ve obviously got a good car.
“We didn’t do the tests and we’ve never run at Sebring with this car. We’ve got a bit of a hill to climb.
“But it’s an endurance race. As long as we keep our nose clean, do a good job, we should have a shot at it.”
Post-Sebring, AIM will switch to its own Ferrari 458 Italia, which competed in the Rolex Series last year. No decision has been made on the car’s number for the remainder of the season.