Newly crowned ADAC GT Masters champions Land Motorsport is set for its North American debut, having confirmed a GT Daytona class effort for January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The German squad has entered a brand-new Audi R8 LMS car for Connor De Phillippi, Christopher Mies, Jules Gounon and Jeffrey Schmidt, and is one of a dozen teams taking part in this week’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona, in preparation for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.
“We had a really successful year this year, and taking home a big endurance race title is the next check mark on the list,” De Phillippi told Sportscar365.
“Our partner Montaplast, they’re really motivated and they want to get a big endurance race under their belt, so we plan to do the same endurance races we did this year with our program.
“But they’re an international company and they have a U.S. base here in Kentucky, and they decided they wanted to start with Daytona and see how it goes and maybe we’ll do some more races here next year.”
De Phillippi, who along with Audi GT factory driver Mies, took home the GT Masters title, as well as numerous VLN wins this year, said the decision to do Daytona was made about two months ago.
While the majority of the team for Daytona is German-based, the Wolfgang Land-led operation is receiving logistical support from Starworks Motorsport, as well as some help atop the pit box from longtime Flying Lizard chief strategist, Thomas Blam.
“All the pieces that we won with this year are being transferred over to the U.S.,” De Phillippi said. “We’ll have some help also strategy-wise from Thomas Blam, so we have the right guy there.
“Strategy in the U.S. is quite special, and he has a lot of experience and will be a key asset to us.
“This is our first little shakedown. These are the first laps on the car as as well, so we’re going to make sure everything is functioning, and obviously IMSA has a lot of equipment that needs to go in the car, so we need to make sure that all the wiring right.
“But it’s exciting for me, exciting for the team, and we’re all motivated to do a good job.”
It’s been a breakout season in Europe for the 23-year-old Californian, a former Porsche Junior driver, who made the transition to Audi machinery this year with nearly instant success.
His scored seven podium finishes, including one victory, en route to the GT Masters crown, as well as taking Land’s Audi to multiple wins in VLN, in his first full season of GT3 competition.
“It was a big year for me,” De Phillippi said. “Both of those championships were new to me as far as doing it full-time. This was my first year in the Audi, first year with Land as well.
“[There were] a lot of new things, but we assembled the pieces that we thought would be good and we all performed really well. I was happy with my performance.
“The car suits me really well and I felt comfortable from the beginning of the season, and we won every championship we touched. You can’t ask for more than that.
“The only thing we didn’t do, like I said, is win a big endurance race, so that’s our next check box that we want to get sorted out.”
The team’s car for Daytona is owned by the North American division of Montaplast, a German-based automotive plastics manufacturer, and will remain in the U.S. following the race, leaving the possibility for additional outings this year.
De Phillippi said they haven’t ruled out taking part in the Twelve Hours of Sebring, although a final decision will be made following its Rolex 24 debut.
“I think it’s a bit dependent on the result at Daytona,” he said. “We’ll have to see how this test goes, how the race week goes, if we do an above average job I think Sebring would look quite good.”
Land is one of a half-dozen European teams expected to bring GT3 machinery to Daytona, in what’s shaping up to be one of the most competitive races in the history of the class.