Cooper MacNeil says WeatherTech Racing’s decision to switch to its Porsche 911 GT3 R for this weekend’s race at Road America is to give the team the “best chance” to win, amid a dispute over Balance of Performance adjustments handed down to the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in recent months.
The Riley Motorsports-run team has parked its Mercedes due to what MacNeil calls unfavorable BoP, which has seen the car gain 70kg of weight since the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, as well as a having a reduced air restrictor.
Despite scoring GTD class victory at Long Beach alongside co-driver Gunnar Jeannette, the No. 50 car has yet to return to the podium, nor any Mercedes entries since Circuit of The Americas in May.
MacNeil said the decision to run the Porsche this weekend was a “cut-and-dry” choice, based purely on numbers, with the team yet to decide their future beyond Road America.
“This [Porsche] is 231.5 pounds lighter and has a 5.5 mm larger air restrictor than the Mercedes,” MacNeil told Sportscar365. “It’s cut-and-dry. There’s nothing more to it besides that.
“Right now, based on the BoP this weekend, I’ve got the same chance of winning in my Ford Raptor pickup truck than I do in the Mercedes. There is no chance.
“We might as well bolt a passenger seat in there and give people rides. When we do the pit stop, one person gets out and we put a new person in to go out for a ride, for as far as ballast goes.
“It is what it is. It’s unfortunate that IMSA feels the BoP is correct.”
While feeling the car is currently at a disadvantage on the track, MacNeil admitted he has no qualms with the Mercedes, with the decision purely BoP-driven.
“I don’t care what emblem is on it,” he said. “We want the best chance to win, so if we have to switch cars, it is what it is.
“I love the Mercedes and I have nothing against the car.
“To be honest, I still rather be driving the Mercedes right now and have the car be competitive rather than spending many thousands of dollars to update this car to get it ready.”
The Porsche being used this weekend is an un-raced chassis that MacNeil said has been updated with various components in the past week, since the decision was taken to make the switch.
Its move back to Porsche, which it ran in GTD competition last year with Alex Job Racing prior to withdrawing from the championship for the last three rounds, also due to BoP issues, has resulted in a restructuring of the Riley operation this weekend as well.
Having previously worked under the same tent as sister No. 33 Mercedes of Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, the two entries have been separated on opposite ends of the paddock.
Additional support has been brought in for the weekend, although team owner Bill Riley said the same general crew for the No. 50 Mercedes are working on the Porsche.
“We’re doing our best to make sure that everything stays private to both cars and when we do what the manufacturers suggest on both cars, we both run that line,” Riley told Sportscar365.
“I’m going back and forth to make sure everything is running smooth and the customers are happy.
“[With] Porsche, we’ve won the 24 hours [of Daytona] twice with their engines in our prototype. Obviously we’re very respectful of where they are with this, along with AMG.
“I don’t want to necessarily say we’re walking a fine line but we’re walking a line between the two.”
MacNeil, meanwhile, said they’ve yet to decide which car they’ll show up with to the next round at Virginia International Raceway later this month, with the results on Sunday, and possible post-race BoP adjustments, likely to dictate their next move.
“We’ll see what happens with the BoP after this, and if it changes drastically, then we’ll figure it out when we get there,” he said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a drastic change; I don’t anticipate one.”
When asked whether the team is fully committed for the remainder of the season, MacNeil acknowledged they are registered as a full-season entrant.
“But we were a full-season entrant last year too,” he said.