IMSA: WeatherTech AJR, Black Swan Porsche lineups change

Photo courtesy of IMSA

There’s a couple key lineup adjustments heading into this weekend’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, the next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and both involve Porsche teams in the GT Daytona class.

The biggest change comes with the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, which sees Leh Keen released from the team and Sven Mueller replacing him for this weekend at Road America.

The move comes as quite a surprise – Keen and longtime co-driver Cooper MacNeil have been together since the start of the IMSA merged series in 2014, although they have not won a race together. Their best finish this year is fifth on two occasions.

“We decided to make a driver change for the rest of the season in the WeatherTech Porsche,” team owner, Alex Job said. “Leh Keen has won races with us, but off the track circumstances led to a change. We wish Leh all the best going forward. Sven is a fast young driver that is currently leading both the Supercup and Carrera Cup series in Europe. We are looking forward to having a successful weekend of racing at Road America. We will reassess where we are with the 22 Porsche after this weekend.”

The No. 22 WeatherTech-backed car change follows the addition of a third Porsche, another WeatherTech entry, the No. 77 for David MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette, for this weekend.

Mueller, a Porsche Junior driver, became available for this weekend only after his planned appearance in the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R went by the wayside.

Tim Pappas, team principal and co-driver of the Black Swan Racing Porsche, withdrew the team in a late notice before this weekend’s race – owing to tragic circumstances. Pappas’ father died on Monday and the decision was made to suspend racing activities until further notice.

“We lost an amazing person on Monday,” Pappas said. “Unfortunately, losing my dad happened suddenly, without any warning.  I am devastated as he’s been an amazing father, grandfather, mentor and my best friend.  All of my attention is now focused on my family.  Until after we celebrate my father’s life, I cannot begin to think about anything else.”

Mueller was only drafted in anyway after Andy Pilgrim stepped into the car at Lime Rock and Nicky Catsburg had been behind the wheel earlier this season.

This leaves the field at 41 cars for this weekend, with the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE (GTLM) and No. 11 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (GTD) also withdrawn.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”