Porsche will continue to be represented on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans grid next season following confirmation of a privateer entry for WeatherTech Racing and Proton Competition.
WeatherTech will field a single Porsche 911 RSR in the full 2021 campaign with operational support from Proton, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE-Am class in 2018.
Cooper MacNeil will be the full-season driver, while it’s understood that a rotation of co-drivers will join the American throughout the year.
For the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona this month, MacNeil will be joined by Kevin Estre, Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, all of whom drove for Porsche’s factory team in the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The agreement also includes an entry application to compete in the GTE-Pro class at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“We have put a lot of thought into this move,” said MacNeil, who drove a Scuderia Corsa-run WeatherTech Ferrari in IMSA’s GT Daytona category last season.
“I have raced against this level of competition at Le Mans twice, most recently this year, and have felt comfortable with the added performance of the car.
“We are going back to running a Porsche, and I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the 911 RSR. It will be more pressure on me as a driver, but I am welcoming the added effort it is going to take to run GTLM in 2021.
“We raced with Christian at Le Mans in 2016, so we have an on-track history. I am looking forward to running the Rolex 24 with Richard, Kevin and Gimmi. Proton has a great endurance racing history, and Porsche is always competitive at Daytona.”
WeatherTech Racing’s commitment provides a boost to the GTLM class, which is facing a reduced car count for next season.
Porsche withdrew its factory two-car GTLM program at the end of last year, while BMW’s scale of involvement in the category is currently uncertain.
WeatherTech’s program partner Proton is set for his first term of IMSA competition, having been a mainstay in the WEC since the championship’s inaugural 2012 season.
Team owner Christian Ried told Sportscar365 late last year that the team is also looking to return to the WEC and European Le Mans Series next year.
Proton has purchased four examples of the 2019-generation Porsche 911 RSR, which customers can now start racing after an initial rollout with the factory programs.
“We have been looking at entering the IMSA WeatherTech Championship for a few years,” said Ried.
“We just didn’t feel like the time was right until now. With the factory effort leaving, that left a void for Porsche in GTLM.
“We were able to get together with David and Cooper [MacNeil] to keep the Porsche brand racing at the top level of GT competition in IMSA.
“I am looking forward to the challenge and am excited to add IMSA to our racing schedule in 2021.”