A little over two weeks ago, Alex Job Racing announced the withdrawal of the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche from the remainder of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, citing issues with Balance of Performance (BoP) that they believe renders the Porsche uncompetitive in the GT Daytona class. At the time, RACER’s Marshall Pruett noted a possibility of the team trying their luck in Pirelli World Challenge.
Sure enough, Pruett’s notion was correct. On Thursday, Alex Job Racing announced that the team will field two Porsche 911 GT3 R’s in the final two race weekends of the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season. Cooper MacNeil will drive the No. 79 Porsche in the GTA class. In order to compete in the amateur division of GT, MacNeil had to acquire special dispensation from the stewards. Normally, silver-rated drivers such as MacNeil are automatically placed in the GT class. The No. 79 matches the number that MacNeil used at Le Mans back in 2014. Forced to move up to the GTE-Pro class after Bret Curtis was ruled out due to injury, MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished fifth in class with an older chassis.
MacNeil is looking forward to trying out Pirelli World Challenge.
“I’m excited to run PWC for the last two races at Sonoma and Laguna Seca,” MacNeil stated in a press release. “I have done a lot of races with SCCA, but never on the SCCA Pro Racing side. It will be a different format with the race being a sprint format instead of the endurance length I am used to doing. I have only been to Sonoma once before, back in 2011 running Ferrari Challenge, but I was on the podium both races. We are going to try hard to get back up there this time with a Porsche! The GTA class has been close all year. Some of my main competition will be an old teammate Mike Schein. We used to race Porsche Cup back in 2011 and we had some close races together. It should be fun to get back out there with him and see how we fair.”
The team’s second entry, the No. 97 Porsche, will be run by Gunnar Jeannette, who has raced with the team in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events earlier this year. Jeannette also teamed with WeatherTech CEO David MacNeil (Cooper’s father) in a third Alex Job Racing entry at Road America in August. Jeannette will run in the GT class.
Jeannette is looking forward to the Pirelli World Challenge format.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve done a proper single driver Pro race,” Jeannette said. “I did the duel sprint race event that IMSA did back in 2014, but this is a different story [Note: Jeannette is referring to the PC races at Kansas Speedway and VIRginia International Raceway that were run in collaboration with IMSA Prototype Lites. At the time, Jeannette was driving full-time for PR1/Mathiasen Mototrsports]. My only World Challenge start was in an Audi at Sebring in 2004, so it’s been a little bit! The sprint format will obviously be quite different than sharing the car with Cooper. It will be good to still work together to get both of our cars set-up as best as possible for the races. We’ll be playing catch up to all the other teams that have been running all year, so having two cars will be very helpful. The Porsches have shown to be competitive throughout the year and Sonoma should be a decent track for us.”
Both drivers will compete in the four remaining Sprint races (two each at Sonoma Raceway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca). In addition, MacNeil and Jeannette will team up for the final two Sprint-X races of the year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Beyond Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, plans are up in the air for the team.
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