AO Racing, a newly formed team led by tech entrepreneur PJ Hyett and racing veteran Gunnar Jeannette, is set to take on a full season GTD class program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year with a new Type-992 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Bronze-rated Hyett, who has contested a variety of sports car racing series this year, including the FIA World Endurance Championship, Michelin Le Mans Cup, Fanatec GT World Challenge America presented by AWS and Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by The Cayman Islands, will place his primary driving focus on the IMSA GTD ranks in 2023.
The Naperville, Ill. native will be joined by a yet-to-be-announced co-driver with previous Porsche experience, alongside Silver-rated Jeannette confirmed for the Michelin Endurance Cup rounds and an additional driver for the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Based in a new 40,000 square-foot shop in the western suburbs of Chicago, Jeannette, who is serving as the team’s director of motorsports, told Sportscar365 they’ve been building up the infrastructure in recent months with several key hires.
“A huge part of that is Adam Wareing, who I met running at Kinetic [Motorsports] back in 2009 and then he came with us and was the lead [mechanic] on the Green Earth car and then came to CORE,” Jeannette said.
“He was at CORE all the way through the factory RSR program.
“Getting the RSR [for HSR racing], I reached out to Adam and was like, ‘Hey man, do you want to come out of retirement and help us out on the RSR?’
“In doing that, PJ has even before he started driving, has had a desire to be involved in racing as a team owner.
“Once we got Adam on board helping out with the RSR and some of the other personnel that were involved with the Porsche factory program in the U.S., it turned from, ‘Oh yeah let’s try to find a ride’ to ‘Hey, do you think we can actually put a program together?’
“After we started getting a couple of key things in place, it went from, ‘Oh man, it’s going to be really hard to do’ to ‘Yeah I’m pretty sure we can do it, it’s just going to take a lot of work.’
“That’s where we are right now. We’ve got a lot of really good, experienced people and a lot of people that we’ve all worked with each other in different programs and stuff. It’s super exciting.”
Jeannette said they expect to take delivery of the car early next month ahead of January’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 that will officially kick off its WeatherTech Championship campaign.
He credited his family’s long-standing ties with the German manufacturer in helping secure one of the sought-after new GT3-spec Porsches for its launch year.
“We’ve been talking to everyone at Porsche about it for a while,” Jeannette said. “We figured out we were going to get the allocation in August.
“That was a big thing for Porsche to give a new program an allocation for a car that has a lot of desire. A lot of that is a testament to my family’s relationship with Porsche and brand, as well as Alwin Springer.
“Alwin is definitely one of the guys that helped us get this. But also the people that we have involved in the program [has helped].
“It’s so exciting but there’s just so much work. It will get a lot more real as soon as the car shows up.”
Jeannette said that Hyett is likely to also contest some Carrera Cup races, again at the wheel of a Kelly Moss Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, although the WeatherTech Championship program will take priority.
“Saying that we’re starting small is not necessarily correct,” he added. “But we’re just trying to not bite off way too much more than we can chew right now.
“It all just comes down to the testament of the people that we’re getting involved as well as PJ’s drive and vision for doing this.”