Rising sports car racing star Mateo Llarena is the first confirmed driver in Performance Tech Motorsports’ LMP3 entry for next month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The 16-year-old Guatemalan, who took part in this year’s Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, will pilot the Florida-based team’s Ligier JS P320 Nissan in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.
Having begun karting at the age of 4, Llarena transitioned into Formula 4 at 14 before making his sports car racing debut with multiple programs in South America and in Europe, including Supercup with MRS-GT Racing.
He will be one of the youngest-ever drivers to take part in the Rolex 24.
“After a weekend spent testing an LMP3, I got connected with Brent [O’Neill] and Performance Tech and was able to get a deal set for the Rolex 24 in January,” he said.
“I already feel good in the car and we have a test at Sebring before the race so I think I will feel even stronger once we arrive at Daytona.
“I’m excited to not only learn the car but get to meet my co-drivers and the crew members too. I think it’s really important that we all mesh well so we can build a fast car and grow together.”
Llarena’s co-drivers have yet to be confirmed, although Performance Tech has had a successful history of bringing young talent through its operation, including Mazda factory driver Tristan Nunez and open-wheel star Pato O’Ward.
“I’ve never done a 24-hour race but I’ve been preparing for it physically even before we knew I was participating,” Llarena added.
“Starting three years ago I have been working out a lot each week to get mentally and physically strong.
“I go to a gym where we work on physical exercises and more mental ones like reaction time training and overall mental strength. I’m working to be my best and strongest when I arrive so we can push for a win.”