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Iribe, Inception Fighting for Titles on Two Continents This Weekend

Brendan Iribe on trans-Atlantic attempt to win two titles in two days…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Brendan Iribe said he’s hoping for himself and Inception Racing to notch two championships this weekend that will involve an ambitious trans-Atlantic travel between Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The American driver is scheduled to take part in Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans as well as the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup title-decider the following day, both at the wheel of McLaren 720S GT3s.

Adding to the pressure, Iribe and the Optimum Motorsport-run team currently lead championships in both series.

The Bronze-rated driver, Jordan Pepper and Ollie Millroy are atop the Michelin Endurance Cup GTD standings, while Iribe, Millroy and Frederik Schandorff lead SRO’s new-for-2022 Gold Cup entering Sunday’s three-hour finale in Spain.

With Millroy prioritizing Barcelona this weekend, reigning Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by The Cayman Islands champion Seb Priaulx has been drafted into the No. 70 McLaren at Road Atlanta to complete the lineup.

Iribe has already had a busy year of racing, also competing full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship as well having won the Asian Le Mans Series GT title and other GT3 races around the world.

“We had ambitions of leading one of two of [the championships],” Iribe told Sportscar365. “I don’t think we fully grasped what it would mean to be leading both [IMSA and GTWC Europe] coming into the final weekend where they overlap.

“So we’ve got to make the best of it and give it our best.”

Iribe will likely be the only person that flies from Atlanta to Barcelona on Saturday evening once he completes his 2 hours and 30-minute minimum drive time.

It will result in the 43-year-old leaving the track before the finish of the race in order to arrive in Barcelona in time for qualifying the following morning.

“I arrive around 6-7 a.m., and qualifying starts at 9 a.m,” Iribe said. “The biggest challenge will be not having any practice in Barcelona.

“Typically you always get a couple of hours of practice before qualifying and the race. That definitely makes a big difference.

“At least a handful of laps, 10-20 laps, gets you dialed in. To use qualifying as practice is going to be a challenge.

“I think it will be a ton of fun. It’s what’s required to be able to do both.

Iribe said it would be a “dream come true” to be able to walk away with both titles, especially in such a unique situation.

“Really it’s the team that’s able to get both cars ready and have everything prepped,” he said. “The drivers are going to be getting the cars all dialed in, both here and in Barcelona.

“I’ve just got to show up and not make a mistake and do what they’ve taught me to do.”

While yet to win a race in WeatherTech Championship competition, Iribe has credited Pepper and the UK-based team for making the right calls on strategy that has put them atop the Endurance Cup standings.

Points in the IMSA Endurance Cup are awarded at various segments in each of the four races, which the Bas Leinders-led Inception crew have fully capitalized on.

“We haven’t won a race yet but we’ve constantly been looking at how to score the most points in each race, where to lead when it’s necessary,” Iribe explained.

“The team, Jordan and the other drivers are really focused on that. They’ve just done an incredible job. Each time we come out of a race, we come out with more points than other teams.

“I just give that back to the whole team effort.”

Petit Le Mans Debutant Pepper on Title Prospects

While Iribe and the team made their Petit Le Mans debuts last year, having failed to finish after suffering an accident, this weekend marks Pepper’s first outing at Road Atlanta.

“One of the championships that really got me interested in sports car and endurance racing was IMSA,” the South African told Sportscar365.

“Obviously being given the opportunity to join Brendan this year in quite a few IMSA races has been really enjoyable and a dream come true.

“I think the [Michelin] Endurance Cup is a true testament of endurance and team efforts and not just about the overall results at times.

“We’ve had a great run in being able to capitalize when it’s meant most, getting the points and stuff.

“To now come out and hopefully, in my first year, to have a go winning the Endurance Cup, would be pretty incredible.

“We know what to do. It’s not going to be easy but we’ve got some hard competition and I’m sure we’ll manage.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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