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No Further IMSA Outings Planned for Sebastian Montoya

16-year-old set for first endurance outing alongside father Juan Pablo…

Photo: IMSA

Sebastian Montoya says there are no plans for him to race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship beyond this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, where he will make his sports car racing debut with DragonSpeed.

The father-and-son pairing of Sebastian and Juan Pablo Montoya will drive the No. 21 Oreca 07 Gibson alongside Henrik Hedman in the Florida endurance classic, marking an all-new lineup from the team that claimed LMP2 class honors in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Montoya’s main program, however, is with Prema in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine after finishing fourth in the Italian Formula 4 Championship last year.

While there are no direct clashes between the junior open-wheel series and the two remaining Michelin Endurance Cup rounds at Watkins Glen and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the Miami-born Colombian said that the Sebring race is currently a one-off deal.

“For now, it’s just here in Sebring,” Montoya told Sportscar365. “Maybe, we’re seeing how everything goes depending on the future.

“The focus is on Europe, this is just to gain experience. I’m still really focused on transitioning to FRECA after racing in F4 last year.

“Obviously, my main goal is Formula 1. I’m going to keep aiming for that as far as I can.

“I think it’s good to get experience wherever you can, understand how to race different races and just kind of get a bit of knowledge and everything.”

The 16-year-old has never raced a closed cockpit before, although he notably took part in the FIA World Endurance Championship Rookie test in Bahrain last November with the Elton Julian-owned team.

Montoya revealed that he was approached during the event about a potential Sebring drive by Bronze-rated driver Hedman.

“When I got to Bahrain, I did the morning [session] and it was quite good,” he explained. “I think I was a tenth or two off the fastest lap.

“So I was quite happy with that and then Henrik came up to me and said, ‘You are really quick. Do you want to race in Sebring?’

“I was like, ‘are you joking? Is this real? Yeah for sure.’

“He responded, ‘Okay, it will be you, me and your dad.’ It just kind of went from there.”

The youngster will be teaming up with his vastly experienced father, whose sports car racing resume includes an IMSA DPi title with Team Penske in 2019 and a LMP2 Pro-Am class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year.

It will be the first time the two have contested a race together.

“It’s quite funny, because I’ve always been next to him when he was at Penske and Meyer Shank Racing,” Montoya recalled. “I was with him and I always saw the meetings and how they would work.

“Even in Le Mans last year, when they won, I was always part of it, helping him and trying to understand what they would do. Now being a part of it, it’s something a bit different.

“I’ve always tried to work as he works in a professional manner, because that’s how they work in teams like Penske.

“I’ve just kind of tried to work like that, see how it goes and now I’m part of it. So it’s very special.”

Montoya’s career has so far only consisted of short-length junior formula races in Europe. To prepare for some of the specific challenges that come with multi-class sports car racing, he looked for advice from experienced names in his environment.

“My longest race has been 32 minutes. Elton [Julian] has done a lot of endurance racing, Henrik helped me a lot.

“I’ve talked a little bit with Ricky Taylor and a couple more friends that have raced.

“The most important thing I think is just patience. It’s a long race and they’re teaching me where to pass, how to understand traffic and all that. Honestly, they’ve really helped me a lot.

“I think there’s still a lot to learn. Hopefully, with the practice sessions we have I will learn [more].”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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