Plucky and underrated Irishman Damien Faulkner will be back in the U.S. this year as a new full-time driver with CJ Wilson Racing’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge program as one of several new components for Wilson’s two-car Porsche Cayman GT4 program.
Faulkner’s competed in parts of the last several seasons with Riley Motorsports (2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona) and GB Autosport (first portion of 2015), with his last full-time season coming with GB in 2014.
He’ll share the No. 35 CJWR Porsche Cayman GT4 with fellow new recruit Russell Ward, a 24-year-old rookie to the Continental Tire Challenge series.
The team has announced a new partnership with Houston-based Winward Racing, and Techemet LP, a World leader in automobile catalytic converter recycling and precious metal trading services based in Pasadena, Texas, will serve as primary partner on the No. 35 car. Techemet LP Vice President Bryce Ward is the team’s reserve driver and may race in selected events.
Till Bechtolsheimer, who impressed in a limited first season in the No. 35, will shift to the No. 33 Porsche alongside fellow returnee Marc Miller. Partner announcements for the No. 33 Porsche, which carried ONE Capital and Motor Oil Matters support this year, will be announced at a later date.
Danny Burkett is set to continue with CJWR in an expected additional entry to IMSA’s Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada by Michelin series, a series where fellow open-wheel turned-sports car aces Daniel Morad and Scott Hargrove have starred in recent years.
“I’m delighted to get this opportunity with Winward & CJ Wilson Racing,” Faulkner said. “The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge is a series I have followed closely and I’m looking forward to competing at the sharp end of the field alongside my new teammate, Russell. I can’t say enough about him, he already has a lot of speed and he has the potential to really excel in 2017.”
Team manager Andris Laivins added, “Russell worked with Damien in the Porsche GT3 Cup car last year, and I think sharing an endurance car in 2017 is only going to make that pairing stronger. I believe they are going to have the Techemet No. 35 on the podium in short order, and more broadly, I think they will push, and be pushed by, Marc and Till in the #33 all year, which will make the entire team grow. We’re facing a resurgent GS field this year, and everyone can’t wait to get to Daytona and get down to business.”
The two-car CJWR team should be a championship contender after Miller and Burkett came second this past season, winning at Virginia International Raceway in August.
The GS field should grow by leaps and bounds this year with the introduction of some new GT4-spec cars, with a 19-car class revealed in the entry list for this week’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 test.