While most teams preparing for the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore have previous experience in the series, the inaugural event at Sebring International Raceway next month is also attracting some new customers eager to step into the top ranks of IMSA.
Based in New Orleans, NOLAsport previously competed in the IMSA-sanctioned Porsche GT3 Cup USA by Yokohama series for a handful of races in 2015, when the one-make series stopped for two rounds at the team’s local NOLA Motorsports Park.
The team makes the jump up to the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR during the Encore and will be racing alongside LMP3, GT3 and TCR machines during the four-hour race on Sunday, Nov. 11.
They will be competing for a $10,000 winner’s prize and a $5,000 Michelin tire credit to apply for the 2019 season.
It is also an opportunity for teams to get experience on the new-for-2019 Michelin tires.
“With the announcement of the Sebring IMSA Encore and its four-hour format, it was natural for Mike Vess, Matt Travis and Jason Hart to team up for NOLAsport’s first IMSA outing,” said team owner Jon Scheurich.
“We are fortunate to have such talented drivers in our program and each one of these drivers has been part of our winning tally generated by this team in this car, formerly the No. 47.
“We feel ready to take on this new challenge and are well prepared to continue our winning ways with IMSA.”
Those winning ways came about in World Challenge, where the team campaigned its Porsche Cayman GT4 the last two years, Trophy West USA and in Porsche Club of America (PCA) events.
NOLAsport will also be contesting the PCA race at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, hoping to add more championships to its already stacked résumé.
“NOLAsport has had an eye on IMSA for some time now, possibly dating back to the days of crewing on other team’s cars back in the original IMSA days,” explained Scheurich.
“The past three years campaigning the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR have rewarded our team with two PWC GTS Pro-Am, six Trophy West and 30 plus PCA Trophy East wins, along with two championships.
“And if things go our way this week in Daytona, we will be adding two more championships.”
The IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore will kick off with two days of practice and qualifying on the 3.74-mile circuit before Sunday’s race at 12 p.m. ET.
Teams are allowed a minimum of two and a maximum of three drivers per car. Platinum-rated drivers are prohibited, and each car may have a maximum of one gold-rated driver, which cannot participate in qualifying.