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Weekly Racing Roundup (3.13.23)

News including Optimum’s GTWC Europe lineup, N24 program updates and more…

Photo: Drew Gibson

News & Notes

***Charlie Fagg, Dean MacDonald and Sam De Haan will team up for McLaren team Optimum Motorsport in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup. Fagg, who raced in the FIA World Endurance Championship last year, and reigning Sprint Cup Pro-Am champion MacDonald drove for United Autosports’ title-winning GT4 program in 2020.

***Optimum won the Gold Cup title last year when the class included Bronze drivers, but now the lineup rule is Gold-Gold-Silver. Team principal Shaun Goff commented: “Dean is a proven race winner and adding him to the lineup alongside Sam and Charlie, an already strong duo in itself, will hopefully see us go for gold once again this season.”

***Australian driver Alex Peroni will make his GT racing debut this year, headlining GetSpeed Performance’s Bronze Cup entry in GTWC Europe Endurance Cup. The 23-year-old former FIA Formula 3 driver, who raced in LMP2 last year, will share the No. 3 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with Patrick Assenheimer and Florian Scholze.

***Rutronik Racing will run a Porsche 911 GT3 R at the Nürburgring 24 for the second time with Dennis Olsen, Matteo Cairoli, Julien Andlauer and Tobias Mueller driving. The German squad last entered the Nordschleife enduro in 2021 with Andlauer and Mueller involved.

***Falken Motorsports is another Porsche team to have recently established its N24 roster. The Schnabl Engineering-run operation has confirmed Klaus Bachler, Sven Mueller, Martin Ragginger, Joel Eriksson, Alessio Picariello, Tim Heinemann and Nico Menzel as its core lineup. For the opening NLS race this weekend, Mueller and Eriksson will share the No. 3 Porsche while Ragginger and Menzel are in the No. 4.

***Wochenspiegel Team Monschau will return its Ferrari GT3 program to the N24 after missing last year’s edition. Daniel Keilwitz, Indy Dontje, Leonard Weiss and Jochen Krumbach will drive for the German squad, sharing a Rinaldi Racing-prepared Ferrari 296 GT3. George Weiss will join the crew for the first three NLS rounds.

Photo: KCMG

***Having previously contested the race with Nissan GT3 machinery, KCMG is entering this year’s N24 with a Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO. GT3 regulars Josh Burdon, Edoardo Liberati and Martin Rump will team up in the SP10-class entry, which is also due to run the full NLS season.

***Porsche factory LMDh driver Kevin Estre will make his Supercars debut this year with Penrite Racing. The Frenchman will serve as Penrite’s endurance specialist for the Bathurst 1000 and will also tackle the Sandown 500.

***Fellow Porsche factory driver Matt Campbell previously drove for Penrite in the endurance capacity but Sandown clashes with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Indianapolis, where Campbell will be competing in GTP.

***Street Art Racing has committed to a full season of International GT Open with an Aston Martin Vantage GT3. The Belgian squad’s driver lineup will be Pascal Bachmann and Jahid Fazal-Karim.

***V8 Racing is continuing continue to campaign its Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R in the GT4 European Series with the returning driver pairing of Danny Rappange and Kenny Herremans. This will be the sixth consecutive season for V8 Racing’s Camaro package.

***GTWC Europe teams Team WRT, Comtoyou Racing and Boutsen VDS were at Zandvoort over the last couple of days testing ahead of the new season. One of the WRT BMW M4 GT3s running was the No. 46 car being driven by Valentino Rossi.

***Jonny Adam is to partner James Cottingham in a 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo for the Intelligent Money British GT Championship season. Adam, who is best known for his Aston Martin exploits, made a handful of outings in the AMG last year with Flick Haigh. The Scot will make his 100th British GT appearance at the Oulton Park season-opener, however he will miss the next round at Silverstone due to a date clash with the European Le Mans Series.

Image: RAM Racing

***GTWC Europe Endurance Cup champion and CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa winner Raffaele Marciello will make his British GT debut this year, partaking in a full-season program with defending teams’ champion RAM Racing. Marciello is sharing a Mercedes-AMG with John Ferguson, who is set for his second season with the same organization.

***Team Abba Racing is continuing with its previous-generation Mercedes-AMG GT3 for a seventh year in British GT, with the father-son lineup of Richard and Sam Neary.

***Several GT4 teams have announced their British GT programs. Enduro Motorsport has added a McLaren Artura GT4 to its unchanged GT3 entry with the same manufacturer, while Team Parker Racing has signed 2020 class champion Daniel Vaughan for its Porsche effort. Raceway Motorsport has added a second Ginetta G56 GT4 and Track Focused has linked up with stunt school Drivetach for a Mercedes-AMG entry.

***Greystone GT has added a third entry to its McLaren Trophy stable, with Euan Hankey and Mark Hopton set to share one of the manufacturer’s modified Artura GT4 cars.

***Hugo Sasse and Mike David Ortmann will seek to defend their ADAC GT4 Germany title with PROSport Racing, which is fielding a five-car fleet of Aston Martin Vantage GT4s. “Our goal is to repeat our title win this year,” said Ortmann. “However, we are aware that this will not be an easy task and that we will have many opponents in the title fight.”

***Craft-Bamboo Racing will run a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in the revived Sepang 12 Hours for Jeffrey Lee, Sandy Stuvik and Jiatong Liang. Furthermore, Modena Motorsports and AMAC Motorsports are each running a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

***Thailand Super Series champion Akash Nandy has been signed as an Audi Sport customer racing Asia driver. He joins the roster alongside Congfu Cheng, who is entering his 10th year representing Audi Sport in the Asian market, and Audi Sport Asia Juniors Yu Kuai and Cao Zhou.

***Former Corvette Racing driver Johnny O’Connell will drive SKI Autosports’ recently acquired Audi R8 LMS ultra in an International GT round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta later this month. The team could run the car in GT America powered by AWS. “We will begin with testing and decide from there which car, the Ferrari, which we’ve had great success with, or the Audi will become our primary race car for SRO GT America,” said team co-owner Kent Hussey.

On this weekend: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship (Sebring), NLS (Round 1)

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

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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