(Photo: Phil Allaway)

WeatherTech Porsche Leaves WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

It seems really bizarre that a team sponsored by the series’ title sponsor could be pulling out of the series, but it is the case.  Alex Job Racing announced on Wednesday evening that their No. 22 Porsche 911 GT3-R will not compete in the last three races on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule.

Why would such a move happen in the middle of the season?  The same reason why seemingly everything seems to happen these days.  Balance of Performance.  IMSA adjusts the rules on a somewhat regular basis in order to maintain parity between the seven different cars that compete in the GT Daytona class.  Team owner Alex Job is none too pleased with the current BoP for the Porsche 911 GT3-R.

“The decision to stop racing was rooted purely on performance and the future prospects for the Porsche at the remaining tracks on the 2016 schedule,” Job said in a statement.  “The conclusion was based upon the performance in direct comparison to the competition over the past eight GTD races and the possible variations of how the BOP (balance of performance) could play out over the next three races with our engineering team and IMSA.”

Obviously, the notion of a team sponsored by the series’ title sponsor and driven by the son of the title sponsor’s founder pulling out doesn’t exactly scream good news.  David MacNeil stressed that there will be no change in WeatherTech’s support of IMSA and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“This is a competition decision as it relates to the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche team in IMSA,” David MacNeil stated.  “We make marketing decisions based upon what is best for our business. We are still the presenting sponsor of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and we are committed to growing the sport now and into the future.”

This is just the latest news to come out of Alex Job Racing.  Less than two weeks ago, the team parted ways with veteran racer Leh Keen, who had been with the team off and on since 2010 and had been Cooper MacNeil‘s co-driver for the majority of the 23-year old’s career.  The reason given for the move was vague, but it was indicated that an off-track issue led to the sacking.  The team acquired the services of Sven Müller for Road America at the 11th hour only because Black Swan Racing suspended operations suddenly due to the death of team owner Tim Pappas‘ father (Müller was originally scheduled to drive for Black Swan Racing at Road America).

At Road America, there were two WeatherTech Porsches in the field.  One was the regular No. 22 for Müller and Cooper MacNeil, while David MacNeil shared the No. 77 Porsche with Gunnar Jeannette.  Of the three Porsches from Alex Job Racing in the field, the Cooper MacNeil-Müller entry was best of them.  They finished 11th in class.  The only non-AJR Porsche in the class, the No. 73 of Patrick Lindsey and Jörg Bergmeister, finished second.

Speed appears to be one of the main concerns since Road America has multiple long, flat-out stretches.  The next race, the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway, features more flat-out stretches including a straight that is over 3,000 ft. long.  Circuit of the Americas and Road Atlanta are similarly quick.  However, no adjustments to Balance of Performance have been made for the Porsche ahead of VIR.  The only adjustments on the technical bulletin released Wednesday involved refueling restrictors.

Upon hearing the news, Tequila Patron ESM‘s Ed Brown reacted angrily on Instagram.

What is next for Alex Job Racing?  RACER.com’s Marshall Pruett is reporting that the team may jump to Pirelli World Challenge’s GT class for the rest of the season.  However, Alex Job Racing did not reference anything along these lines in their press release.  The No. 23 Porsche of Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas that runs under the Alex Job Racing/Team Seattle banner will continue to compete full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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