Marco Bonanomi will replace Tom Kimber-Smith at the wheel of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Ligier JS P217 Gibson in next weekend’s Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown at Circuit of The Americas, the team has announced.
As revealed by Sportscar365, the ex-Audi LMP1 driver tested PR1’s Prototype class entry at COTA earlier this month alongside Jose Gutierrez, who returns to the California-based team after skipping the Long Beach round.
“I’m very happy to join PR1 and drive with José,” Bonanomi said. “It was a pleasure working with the team at the test, and I found that José was very quick in the car.
“I’m looking forward to returning to COTA and to race there next weekend.”
The Bobby Oergel-led team has cited Kimber-Smith’s absence being related to his mother, who is battling cancer, with the U.S.-based Englishman now set to return home to be with his family.
“As all the drivers who have driven with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports know, once you’re a part of our team, you’re family, and Tom is a big part of this family,” Oergel said.
“It’s unfortunate that he will miss a round of the championship, but we know that family comes before racing, and we’re happy that he is able to take the time he needs to be with his family during this time.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom and his mother, and we are praying that she will be cancer free in the near future.”
Bonanomi, who will make his first prototype start since the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015, said he’s upbeat on their prospects for the two-hour an 40-minute race.
“It was my first time driving the Ligier, but I think the test was very positive,” he said.
“We tested some set up changes for the race that I think will be very good. The track itself is very demanding on the car and tires, especially with the extreme temperatures that can be present.
“The first practices during race week will be very critical to get everything just right in terms of set up, but after the test, I think we should be pretty close.”