Top-level GT racing returns to Lime Rock Park when the GT Le Mans class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship headlines the IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix next weekend.
IMSA today released a 32-car entry for the event, which will be televised live on FOX, with the three-hour program beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
ENTRY LIST: Lime Rock Park
Factory teams from BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Ferrari and Porsche will battle on the historic 1.5-mile circuit in a two-hour, 40-minute race, joining the Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona classes in Round 8 of the 2016 season.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing carries plenty of momentum into the event, riding a three-race GTLM winning streak with the No. 67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe, who now resides in nearby Farmington, Conn.
In addition, the No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller won the GTE class in the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I’m two-for-two at Lime Rock, so I can’t complain,” said Briscoe, a P2 winner in ALMS competition at Lime Rock in 2007 and 2013. “It’s a fun little track – unique to our championship. We’re extremely busy with traffic, which adds a new dynamic.
“I think the GTLM cars will put on a strong show – as usual – with everyone close in performance. Two hours, 40 minutes there in the middle of July will probably be the most physical race we’ll have all year – a feat of endurance, fitness and concentration.”
BMW won the GT class in two of the three most recent ALMS races at Lime Rock races. Mueller and John Edwards won in 2013, co-driving a BMW Z4, while Mueller and Hand co-drove a BMW M3 to victory in 2011.
For 2016, the team has a pair of new BMW M6 GTLMs. Edwards and Lucas Luhr – a three-time P1 class winner at the circuit – have the No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM, while Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner will share the No. 25.
Corvette Racing is a four-time ALMS winner at Lime Rock. Oliver Gavin – who co-drives the No. 4 Corvette C7.R with Tommy Milner – won in 2004, 2005 and 2007, while Jan Magnussen – who shares the No. 3 with Antonio Garcia – won in 2008.
Porsche won the leading GT class in the ALMS three times at Lime Rock, with current GTD driver Joerg Bergmeister joining in the 2009, 2010 and 2012 triumphs.
Porsche North America returns with the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and 2015 GTLM champion Patrick Pilet, and the No. 912 of Earl Bamber and Fred Makowiecki.
Ferrari’s race will be championed by the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander. The pair finished second in the GTE-Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Turner Motorsport, based in Amesbury, Mass., takes winning momentum to its home track in the GTD class. Bret Curtis and Jens Klingmann won at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to score the first U.S. victory for the BMW M6 GT3.
Turner also enters the race as the defending winners, capturing victory in last year’s race with Markus Palttala and Dane Cameron. Curtis and Klingmann share the No. 96 entry, with Palttala and Michael Marsal of nearby Bedford, N.Y., co-driving the No. 97 BMW.
Audi finished second at CTMP with a strong showing from Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis in the No. 6 Stevenson Auto Group Audi R8 LMS.
Liddell is also a two-time Rolex Series winner at Lime Rock for Stevenson, winning with Edwards in 2012 and Magnussen in 2011. The team also fields the No. 9 Audi for Matt Bell and Lawson Aschenbach, with John Potter and Andy Lally co-driving the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi.
Lamborghini had its first podium finish in WeatherTech Championship competition at CTMP, with Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers taking third in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
Other Lamborghinis include the No. 16 Change Racing entry with Corey Lewis and Spencer Pumpelly, and Dream Racing’s No. 27 with Lawrence DeGeorge and Cedric Sbirrazzuoli.
Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan placed fourth in Canada in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. That allowed them to extend their lead in the GTD standings to 21 points over Porsche drivers Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas.
Bergmeister, a six-time class winner at Lime Rock, joins Patrick Lindsey in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Alex Job Racing fields a pair of Porsches, the No. 23 Team Seattle entry for Farnbacher and Riberas, and the No. 22 WeatherTech car for Cooper MacNeil and Leh Keen.
Also racing for Porsche is Black Swan Racing with the No. 540 for Tim Pappas and Andy Pilgrim.
Completing the 15-car GTD entry is the No. 33 ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R of Detroit winners Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports returns with Tom Kimber-Smith of nearby Pleasant Valley, N.Y., to defend its victory in the PC class. Kimber-Smith and co-driver Robert Alon won at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca among five podium finishes in the No. 52 Oreca FLM09, and are second in the class standings.
Jon Bennett and Colin Braun are coming off a class victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the No. 54 CORE autosport entry. They were PC class winners at Lime Rock in 2012.
Starworks Motorsport currently leads the PC standings by 14 points, 231-217. Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow won back-to-back races at Detroit and Watkins Glen in the No. 8 car, and are riding a streak of six consecutive podium finishes.
Other PC entries include the No. 88 Starworks entry with Mark Kvamme; James French and Kyle Marcelli in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports car; Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports entry; and the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA of Matt McMurry and Johnny Mowlem.
Practice for the IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix begins at 11:10 a.m. ET on Friday, July 22, with qualifying at 4:30 p.m. The weekend also includes the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, racing on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET.