Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook have been confirmed as full-time drivers for Spirit of Daytona Racing in the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship. Valiante previously raced with the team in the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Series, teaming up with Westbrook to score an overall victory that year at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“He and [Westbrook] work really well together, and I think with some of the changes we are looking at on the engineering side of our program, we should not only come out of the box much stronger, but we will hopefully be able to develop a championship-contending campaign with our VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP,” team owner Troy Flis said in a statement.
“New tracks, new rules, new races–there are a ton of new challenges for us to adjust to this year. We want to be in a position to maximize our opportunity, and having this driver line up will be an important part of that for us.”
This past year, Valiante split time with Michael Shank Racing and 8Star Motorsports. Competing in 11 Rolex Series races in 2013, his best results were a pair of back-to-back, runner-up finishes with 8Star at Mid-Ohio and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of Watkins Glen. Both of those finishes came in a Corvette DP.
“I’m really happy to have the full-season program in place and to be coming back to Spirit of Daytona Racing,” Valiante said. “It is a good feeling to have our plans in place, and to be able to now focus on what we need to do to be ready to go at Daytona.”
Also, 2013 DTM champion Mike Rockenfeller will join Valiante and Westbrook at the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. The German driver is a past champion of both the Rolex 24 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.
Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.
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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.
“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.
“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”
The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.
Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.