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ELMS Points Leader Van Uitert Eyeing IMSA Opportunities

ELMS points leader Job van Uitert considering transatlantic move to IMSA next year…

Photo: MPS Agency

European Le Mans Series points leader Job van Uitert says he’s eyeing up opportunities to race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year amid a standout debut season in LMP2.

The 20-year-old Dutchman stepped up to the LMP2 class this year after winning the 2018 European LMP3 title and has made a strong impression in his first season with G-Drive Racing, helping the team to win two of the three ELMS races held so far.

Van Uitert told Sportscar365 that he will be in attendance at Road America this weekend to start looking for potential vacant seats in the WeatherTech Championship.

He suggested that greater sponsor activation in North America offers a higher chance for young European drivers to make a lasting career in sports cars. 

“I would love to go to IMSA as well [as Europe]. I think they have a great championship over there with a lot of manufacturers,” said van Uitert.

“In my opinion, you need the factory support in order to make a championship competitive and also to support professional racing drivers.

“I’ve had a very little budget in past years. That’s why I went from Formula 4 to LMP3, so I could still be racing or I would have stopped motorsport.

“I think to make a professional career in Europe is not impossible, but it’s quite hard. G-Drive is one of the only teams that is completely funded by sponsors; a lot of teams need drivers to pay or they have another driver who pays for the lead driver.

“The whole mindset in America is a bit different. They are actually proud to sponsor a team. So I also think that deals like that go smoother, and also the teams have the budgets.

“If you can make yourself on the list for them, you can have a long career over there.”

Van Uitert explained that he would prefer to continue racing prototype machinery in the foreseeable future, based on his near-exclusive experience in LMP sports cars.

“If I went over to GTs I wouldn’t necessarily shut the door, but currently prototype racing is going so well for me, and I want to keep improving,” he said.

“I want to make history in prototypes, in the top class. That’s the goal.

“If you get an opportunity to be a factory driver in a GT team it will be a hard choice because you cannot say no to a factory contract. So I’m definitely not saying no to that, but my aim is to win Le Mans [overall].”

Van Uitert’s LMP2 drives this year, which included taking the LMP2 lead on-track at the 24 Hours of Le Mans before a minor part fault derailed G-Drive’s run, led to him signing with TDS affiliate Racing Team Nederland for two WEC races this season. 

However, he admitted that a full-season WEC drive in 2019-20 was always off the cards based on his limited LMP2 experience to date.

“After the four [LMP2] races that I’ve done before this WEC season started, it’s just too short for a team [in WEC] to commit to a driver who only did LMP2,” said van Uitert.

“OK, the results were good, but I have no experience. But I have shown until now that I can do all the races without mistakes.

“I think that’s a very important thing for endurance racing because you can be fast for one lap and crash another, but that’s not what they want.

“If you asked me last year that I would be driving with G-Drive and almost winning Le Mans, I would have said ‘no way!’.

“Things came up very quickly and it has to keep up like that next year.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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