Tom Kimber-Smith has been confirmed as a full-season driver for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ step up to Prototype competition in next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Kimber-Smith will be joined by Jose Gutierrez for seven of the ten races, with newly crowned European Le Mans Series LMP3 champion Mike Guasch set for the four-round Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.
The team’s fourth driver for next month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona has yet to be announced.
All three drivers have taken part in two tests with Onroak Automotive’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson test car, first at the IMSA-sanctioned test Daytona test in November, as well as a three-day private test at Sebring last week.
“The test at Sebring went really well,” Kimber-Smith said. “We had three full days of putting mileage on the Ligier car, and it was a great experience for us as drivers and also the whole team as it was our first real taste of the car.
“We are working through our test plan and also getting familiar with procedures. It’s great to have done some testing before Christmas and before we hit the track at the Roar in January.”
Kimber-Smith, a three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner, returns to the Bobby Oergel-led squad for his third consecutive season, after claiming Prototype Challenge class victories at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans in 2015, alongside Guasch.
“It’s great to be back with PR1,” Guasch said. “I ran in Europe in LMP3 last year and had great success, but decided to come back to the United States and make the step up to P2.
“When it comes to racing in the U.S., Bobby Oergel is my go to, so we talked and were able to get me back in the car for the four big races.”
Mexican rising star Gutierrez, meanwhile, made his team debut this year in the Patron Endurance Cup races and steps up to an increased program. He will compete in all races except Long Beach, Detroit and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“We did a lot of laps in the new Ligier, and I’m in love with the car,” Gutierrez said. “I’m still getting accustomed to the speed, more braking power and more downforce compared to the LMPC, but I can´t wait for the Roar before the 24 and to show what PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports can do in 2017.”
The team expects to take delivery of its own Ligier-Gibson chassis this month, ahead of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 6-8.