Andretti Autosport could make its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut later this season, with LMP3 races at Watkins Glen and Road America currently earmarked according to Marco Andretti, who recently turned laps in the team’s Ligier JS P320 Nissan.
The third-generation star took part in a two-day test at Sebring International Raceway in what served as preparation for the upcoming IMSA Prototype Challenge round later this month that his cousin Jarrett and Tristan Herbert will contest.
Andretti, who returned to the wheel of a sports car for the first time in nearly a decade, is likely to team up with Jarett for the handful of races.
With Gold-rated drivers not eligible in the IMSA development series, Marco’s only chance to race the car would come in the new-for-2021 LMP3 class within the WeatherTech Championship.
The class kicked off at January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona as a non-points round, with Sebring serving as the first of six races for the season-long championship.
“Right now, they’re looking at The Glen and Road America,” Marco said. “I may jump in for another test before then, but that’s what they’re looking at.
“I don’t know if they’ve made a final decision on it yet, but I’m kind of letting Jarett run the reins on it. If he calls me up and I’m free, I’ll go drive.”
Prior to last week’s test, Marco hadn’t been in a prototype since racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona nine years ago.
He also has previous LMP2 experience in 2008 with his family’s team, which had operated one of the factory Acura entries, while also having made a start in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a LMP1 class Rebellion Racing Lola in 2010.
“It’s almost about slowing myself down a little bit and driving to the limit of them,” Marco explained. “You kind of find yourself right at the limit pretty quick in those things so I was able to be pretty quick relative to the others.
“(The LMP3 has) a little less grip from the Acura that I drove but they (LMP3s) are super underpowered, so the biggest difference from IndyCar is they’re even more of a momentum car.
“It’s all about keeping the minimum speeds up and keeping the momentum up. That’s where I was able to find a decent chunk of my time. In the high-speed corners, it still takes a lot of commitment.”
While winning the Indianapolis 500 remains a target, Marco said he’s “loving life” with a less-pressured racing schedule for 2021.
“I’m kind of in control of my own destiny from a racing point of view,” he said. “I can still win the big one and kind of be more diverse from there. I’m at my own will, whatever I feel like driving.”
Marco said he feels added incentive to drive with Jarett, who’s five years his junior, and worked his way up through the dirt-track and GT racing ranks.
In the span of a year, Jarett’s father John died after a lengthy battle with colorectal cancer and Jarett’s grandfather Aldo, Mario’s twin brother, passed away in December at age 80.
Something Jarett told Marco recently provided all the motivation the latter needed.
“It meant a lot to me when he said, ‘We’ve got to make these races happen because it’s the closest thing I’m going to get to driving with my dad,’” Marco recalled of what Jarett said.
“I was humbled to hear that. It would be my pleasure to co-drive with him.”
Mark Robinson/IMSA News Wire contributed to this report