On Wednesday, P1 Motorsports announced their intentions to expand into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona class for a limited schedule in 2018. The team has acquired a Mercedes-AMG GT3 and will race in the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races. Unlike the picture above, the team will use No. 71.
Drivers for the team will be a combination of known quantities to the team and newcomers. Kenton Koch and Robby Foley will anchor the team. Both drivers already compete for the team in IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda. They’ll be joined by team owner JC Perez and Italian racer Loris Spinelli.
P1 Motorsports only debuted earlier this year with the goal of getting Perez to the point of being able to be competitive at Daytona. The team is already there and Perez could not be more proud.
“This has been an amazing journey for me,” Perez said. “I have learned so much this year and we are about to take on the hardest race in the U.S. I have been training all year long, and know I can hold my own with any driver in that field. Daytona is the fulfillment of one my lifelong dreams and I just didn’t want to pay for [a] seat. I wanted to own a team and run it and make my mark. A lot of people thought I was crazy and that I would fail, but like everything in my life, I have proven everyone wrong so far. My team has been hand-picked from the best of the business and this year we showed what we are made of in IMSA Prototype Challenge and Lamborghini Super Trofeo.”
Koch is the only one of the four drivers with previous experience racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In 2016, he won the Prototype Challenge class with JDC-Miller MotorSports. He’s very happy to make the move up to GT Daytona with P1 Motorsports.
“I am super excited to be running with P1 [Motorsports] again in 2018,” Koch stated. “This time in GTD as well as LMP3. We have had great history together and really think we can do well. The team has shown tremendous growth and performance in only its first year of operation. I’m truly honored to be a part of this team as it continues to grow.
“Last time I raced the 24 was in LMPC, and we were lucky enough to win,” Koch continued. “With P1, I’m more than confident we will have a shot, especially with the driver line up we have.”
Koch spent the 2017 season racing for P1 Motorsports in their No. 8 Ligier JS P3-Nissan in the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda. Koch missed the first two races at Sebring, then won seven races to finish second in points to Colin Thompson.
The team definitely tipped their hand about Wednesday’s announcement. When they announced their 2018 IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda plans last week, they indicated that they would have a program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as well.
For Randolph, N.J.’s Foley, Daytona will mark his debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Wednesday’s news is quite the coup for him.
“I’m really excited for my GTD debut at the Rolex 24 and to be able to do it with P1 Motorsports is a really a special opportunity,” Foley stated. “Some of my earliest childhood memories are of watching this race, and dreaming about one day driving in it. I’d trick my mom into thinking I was going to bed, but I’d actually stay up through the night watching. To now have the chance to fulfill that dream is something I’m very grateful to JC [Perez] and the entire team for. I’ll definitely have to pinch myself on the grid before the start.”
Foley also drove for the team in a Ligier JS P3-Nissan in 2017 in five races. His best finish was a second in the first race at Road Atlanta in October. Prior to his time with P1 Motorsports, Foley started the season driving the No. 27 Mazda MX-5 for Freedom Autosport in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge’s Street Tuner class alongside Britt Casey Jr. Foley’s best finish in the MX-5 was eighth in class at Sebring.
Spinelli comes to P1 Motorsports after winning two Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe championships (2015 in Pro-Am, 2017 in Pro). Perez has raced against Spinelli at the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Finals at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola). He believes that Spinelli will be a “formidable competitor” in the United States.