Alex Job Racing will return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, albeit in a reduced capacity, having confirmed Tuesday a Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup entry for 2015 series champions Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell, plus Frankie Montecalvo.
The trio will team up in an Audi R8 LMS for the four-round Patron Endurance Cup, which kicks off with next month’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. Audi GT factory driver Pierre Kaffer will complete the lineup for Daytona.
It will mark Sweedler and Bell’s return to the Florida-based team for the first time since 2013, when AJR fielded a Ferrari F458 Italia GT for the duo in the American Le Mans Series. The pairing also claimed GTC class honors at the Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2012 in an AJR-run Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
“It is nice to come full circle and be back with Alex Job for 2017,” Sweedler said. “I won my first big race with AJR at Sebring five years ago, so it is nice to be back in the family.
“The Audi R8 is a great endurance package. Frankie is a welcome addition with a lot experience and speed. Townsend and I have had a lot of success in the longer races over the past four years and we are looking to continue winning with AJR, Audi and Frankie.”
Bell added: “I am so happy to be back. They are such a talented and experienced team that I am sure we will fall right back into the winning routine. I am looking forward to driving the Audi R8 LMS.”
Former Pirelli World Challenge GTA champion Montecalvo, meanwhile, will make his team debut, as the second Bronze/Silver-rated driver in the lineup.
“AJR is a renowned team and organization that I am very much looking forward to being a part of,” he said. “I cannot wait to begin the 2017 season with AJR at Daytona.
“[They] always had a great reputation and one that I have admired for years.”
Sweedler and Bell’s 2016 season was ultimately cut short following O’Gara Motorsport’s withdrawal in February, although they claimed GTE-Am class honors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Jeff Segal in a Scuderia Corsa Ferrari.
The Patron Endurance Cup program keeps AJR in top-level IMSA racing for 2017, after WeatherTech Racing’s shift to Riley Motorsports and Mercedes-AMG and the termination of The Heart of Racing/Team Seattle-backed Porsche effort, which left Job without a returning client.
It will mark the team’s first time fielding an Audi since its GT class victory at Daytona in 2013.
“This has been a very nice surprise for us,” Job said. “I was looking at giving everyone the holiday week off and now we are working overtime.
“We have an all-new car in transit from Brad Kettler’s (director of operations/engineering at Audi Sport customer racing USA) shop up in Ohio to begin prepping for the Roar weekend.
“What makes it even nicer is being back with seasoned veterans Bill and Townsend. They have built a very impressive trophy case over the past few years and we hope to add to that this year.
“We have been talking to Frankie for a few months and it is great that we can have him as a part of this program. He is fast, knows the circuits and has a strong endurance background.
“Being back with Audi is a bonus. We are one-for-one with wins with the Audi brand. I am excited for 2017.”