TUSC: Corvette announces GTLM lineup, adds Briscoe, Liddell

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Corvette Racing has announced its lineup for the GTLM class in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The team’s 2012 and 2013 full season pairings, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen (No. 3) and Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner (No. 4) will return, now armed with Corvette’s new C7.R to replace the departed C6.R (pictured right). The Gavin/Milner pairing won the 2012 American Le Mans Series GT driver’s title, and Garcia and Magnussen took this year’s title.

Endurance race additions will be Ryan Briscoe (No. 3) and Robin Liddell (No. 4) for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, the first two rounds of the TUDOR Championship. At 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14-15, Jordan Taylor and Richard Westbrook will reprise their roles from 2013.

“We feel this roster will be extremely competitive,” Mark Kent, Director of Chevrolet Racing, said in a release. “This is a program that embraces continuity and teamwork in all areas. It is a key to success in motorsports – evidenced by the roster of drivers who will compete at Le Mans against the most challenging competition in endurance racing. We also welcome championship talents Ryan Briscoe and Robin Liddell to the Corvette Racing program for the opening two races of an exciting new chapter in sports car racing.”

Neither Taylor nor Westbrook could commit to the TUDOR Championship endurance races for Corvette Racing because they’ll be driving Corvette Daytona Prototypes in the P class for the full season. Taylor will team with brother Ricky and drive for father Wayne in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing entry, with Westbrook alongside Michael Valiante in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette.

Briscoe has competed at Daytona with WTR’s DP in years past, while Liddell became available after the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro, campaigned in the Rolex Series’ GT class, will not continue into 2014. These are two solid hires by Corvette, and for Briscoe, continues his incredible month of December that has also included earning Chip Ganassi’s fourth full-time IndyCar seat and having his first child with wife Nicole.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.