For Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans, the season finale for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, there are currently 37 cars entered in the three classes. There are a number of driver changes of note this weekend due to the FIA World Endurance Championship racing at Fuji Speedway in Japan. The races do not run at the same time, but the WEC race will go green roughly two hours after the conclusion of the 10 hour IMSA race.
In the Prototype class, there are 14 entries. All 13 teams that competed last month at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca are back. Add to that Performance Tech Motorsports, who returns with their ORECA 07-Gibson for the first time since July. James French and Kyle Masson will drive in the only two-driver lineup (as of now) in the class.
As previously reported, Norman Nato will make his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut in Tequila Patron ESM’s No. 2 Nissan DPi. He’s driving in place of regular third driver Olivier Pla, who has WEC commitments. Action Express Racing’s No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R. will have Gabby Chaves join the driving lineup, replacing the busy Mike Conway. Mazda Team Joest has drafted in Marino Franchitti to replace Harry Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P for the same reason.
René Rast, who serves as the third driver in Mazda Team Joest’s No. 77, is also out this weekend. The race weekend conflicts with the DTM season finale from the Hockenheimring in Germany. Former Audi factory racer Lucas Di Grassi will drive the No. 77 in his place.
AFS/PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports has a couple of changes. Full-season driver Gustavo Yacaman is not entered. In his place is José Gutierrez, who drove for most of 2017 with the team in their Ligier JS P217-Gibson. They’re joined by William Owen, who made his series debut with the team last year at Long Beach. Owen spends most of his time racing for United Autosports in Europe.
In GT Le Mans, there are nine entries for Road Atlanta. Risi Competizione returns to the series for the first time since Sebring with their Ferrari 488 GTE. Toni Vilander returns to the team, along with veterans Andrea Bertolini and Miguel Molina.
Other than the return of Risi Competizione, there are two changes of note. One is Chaz Mostert making his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut. The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship regular who finished fourth at Bathurst last weekend will drive the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE in place of Nicky Catsburg, who will be racing at Fuji.
The other change is Porsche GT Team drafting in Mathieu Jaminet into the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR in place of Gianmaria Bruni, who will be in Fuji. Jaminet has four previous starts in the GT Daytona class, but Saturday will mark his GT Le Mans debut.
In the GT Daytona class, there are 14 cars entered. There are some driver changes here as well due to the Fuji conflict. For instance, both Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey will be racing for Team Project 1 at Fuji. Spencer Pumpelly and Wolf Henzler have been tapped to replace them. Tim Pappas, who drove for the team earlier this season in the endurance races, will join them.
There are a couple of other interesting additions. P1 Motorsports has Maximilian Buhk in their No. 71 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Buhk races in European in the Blancpain GT Series, where he won the overall (sprint and endurance) championship in 2016. Saturday will mark his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut.
Montaplast by Land-Motorsport is back this weekend. Interestingly enough, Daniel Morad, who spent most of 2018 racing in Pirelli World Challenge, will drive the No. 29 Audi alongside Christopher Mies and Sheldon van der Linde.
About the author
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 the Super DIRTcar Series.