IMSA: 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans entry list notebook

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IMSA Wire Service

Heading into the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta – the season finale for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – this is the final part of a four-part series in which the primary championship contenders in each of the three classes are compared.

Wednesday, we previewed the GTLM class. Thursday, we looked at the Prototype class. Friday, we looked at the GTD class and today we wrap up the series with an all-encompassing statistical look at next week’s overall event.

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The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship draws to a close on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Road Atlanta with the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans.

The race also represents the season finale for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

The 21st annual Motul Petit Le Mans headlines an event week at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit that also includes the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge’s two-hour Fox Factory 120, which wraps up its 2018 campaign on Friday, Oct. 12.

Other events include a season-ending pair of 45-minute Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama races and the one-hour, 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda season finale.

The WeatherTech Championship entry list features 37 cars:

* 14 entries in the Prototype class

* 9 entries in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class

* 14 entries in the GT Daytona (GTD) class.

Live television coverage of Motul Petit Le Mans begins Saturday, Oct. 13 at 10:30 a.m. ET on FS1, with continuing coverage on FS2 from 12 p.m. ET through the checkered flag.

Live IMSA Radio coverage also will be available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 119/XM 202/App 972). Tickets are available now at roadatlanta.com.

Click here for the provisional WeatherTech Championship entry list.

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Notes:

– Of more than 100 drivers on the Motul Petit Le Mans entry list, 39 have at least one previous victory in the prestigious event.

o Oliver Gavin has the most Motul Petit Le Mans wins among active drivers with five previous victories. He won the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GTS class in 2002 and 2004, the ALMS GT1 class in 2005 and 2008, and the ALMS GT2 class in 2010. He will share the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with co-drivers Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.

– There are four additional drivers in this year’s field with three or more Motul Petit Le Mans victories.

o Timo Bernhard, who will share the No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi with Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani, is a four-time winner, taking ALMS GT victories in 2003 and 2004 and ALMS P2 wins in 2006 and 2007.

o Jan Magnussen also is a four-time Motul Petit Le Mans winner with victories in the ALMS GTS class in 2004, ALMS GT1 in 2005 and 2008 and ALMS GT2 in 2010. Magnussen is slated to share the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with co-drivers Antonio Garcia and Fassler.

o Patrick Long, who shares the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with Christina Nielsen and Robert Renauer, has three Motul Petit Le Mans wins, taking ALMS GT2 wins in 2005 and 2006 and an ALMS P2 win in 2007.

o Marino Franchitti, who is entered in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda RT-24P DPi car alongside Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot, also is a three-time Motul Petit Le Mans winner with ALMS P2 victories in 2009, 2010 and 2013.

– Jeroen Bleekemolen, who is sharing the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Ben Keating and Luca Stolz, has the most Motul Petit Le Mans pole positions among active drivers with three. He took ALMS GTC poles in 2010 and 2011 and a WeatherTech Championship GTD pole in 2016.

– Corvette Racing is the winningest team in the Motul Petit Le Mans field with eight previous victories. The first came in the ALMS GTS class in 2000 and its most recent was the ALMS GT2 win in 2010.

– Among the top-two contenders for the 2018 WeatherTech Championship title in each class, five of the six teams have at least one previous Motul Petit Le Mans victory. In addition to the eight Corvette Racing wins, CORE Autosport has two, while Action Express Racing, Paul Miller Racing and Meyer Shank Racing have one each. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing is the only championship contender without a previous Motul Petit Le Mans win.

– With 19 victories, Porsche is the winningest active manufacturer at Motul Petit Le Mans. Audi is second with 11 wins and Chevrolet is third with 10.

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Previous Motul Petit Le Mans Winners in 2018 Field (39):

Oliver Gavin (5) – ALMS GTS – 2002, 2004; ALMS GT1 – 2005, 2008; ALMS GT2 – 2010

Timo Bernhard (4) – ALMS GT – 2003, 2004; ALMS P2 – 2006, 2007

Jan Magnussen (4) – ALMS GTS – 2004, ALMS GT1 – 2005, 2008; ALMS GT2 – 2010

Patrick Long (3) – ALMS GT2 – 2005, 2006; ALMS P2 – 2007

Marino Franchitti (3) – ALMS P2 – 2009, 2010, 2013

Bill Auberlen (2) – ALMS GT – 2001, GTLM – 2017

Romain Dumas (2) – ALMS GT – 2003, ALMS P2 – 2007

Johannes van Overbeek (2) – ALMS GT2 – 2007, ALMS GT – 2012

Ryan Briscoe (2) – ALMS P2 – 2008, 2013

Joao Barbosa (2) – ALMS P2 – 2011, P – 2015

Jeroen Bleekemolen (2) – ALMS GTC – 2011; GTD – 2016

Ryan Dalziel (2) – ALMS PC – 2012, P/Overall – 2017

Scott Sharp (2) – ALMS GT – 2012, P/Overall – 2017

Toni Vilander (2) – ALMS GT – 2012, GTLM – 2016

Wolf Henzler (2) – ALMS GT – 2013; GTLM – 2014

Bryan Sellers (2) – ALMS GT – 2013; GTLM – 2014

Nick Tandy (2) – ALMS GT – 2013, GTLM/Overall – 2015

Spencer Pumpelly (2) – ALMS GTC – 2013, GTD – 2015

Madison Snow (2) – ALMS GTC – 2013, GTD – 2015

Dirk Mueller (1) – ALMS GT – 1999

Helio Castroneves (1) – ALMS P2 – 2008

Simon Pagenaud (1) – ALMS P2 – 2010

Andy Lally (1) – ALMS GTC – 2010

Tim Pappas (1) – ALMS GTC – 2011

Mario Farnbacher (1) – ALMS GTC – 2012

Kyle Marcelli (1) – ALMS PC – 2013

Ricky Taylor (1) – P/Overall – 2014

Jordan Taylor (1) – P/Overall – 2014

Renger van der Zande (1) – PC – 2014

Patrick Pilet (1) – GTLM/Overall – 2015

Sebastien Bourdais (1) – P – 2015

Christian Fittipaldi (1) – P – 2015

Robert Alon (1) – PC – 2016

Jose Gutierrez (1) – PC – 2016

Ben Keating (1) – GTD – 2016

Alexander Sims (1) – GTLM – 2017

Connor De Phillippi (1) – GTD – 2017

Christopher Mies (1) – GTD – 2017

Sheldon van der Linde (1) – GTD – 2017

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Previous Motul Petit Le Mans Pole Winners in 2018 Field (21):

Jeroen Bleekemolen (3) – ALMS GTC – 2010, 2011; GTD – 2016

Romain Dumas (2) – ALMS GT – 2004, ALMS P2 – 2007

Dane Cameron (2) – ALMS PC – 2011, 2013

Toni Vilander (2) – ALMS GT – 2012, GTLM – 2017

Richard Westbrook (2) – P/Overall – 2015; GTLM – 2016

Bill Auberlen (1) – GT3 – 1998

Dirk Mueller (1) – ALMS GT – 1999

Oliver Gavin (1) – ALMS GTS – 2004

Timo Bernhard (1) – ALMS GT2 – 2005

Andrea Bertolini (1) – ALMS GT1 – 2007

Ryan Briscoe (1) – ALMS P2 – 2008

Marino Franchitti (1) – ALMS P2 – 2009

Kyle Marcelli (1) – ALMS PC – 2012

Spencer Pumpelly (1) – ALMS GTC – 2013

Christian Fittipaldi (1) – P/Overall – 2014

Jack Hawksworth (1) – PC – 2014

Nick Tandy (1) – GTLM – 2014

Earl Bamber (1) – GTLM – 2015

Robert Alon (1) – PC – 2016

Helio Castroneves (1) – P/Overall – 2017

James French (1) – PC – 2017

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Previous Motul Petit Le Mans-Winning Teams in 2018 Field (14):

Corvette Racing (8) – ALMS GTS – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004; ALMS GT1 – 2005, 2007, 2008; ALMS GT2 – 2010

Acura Team Penske (3) – ALMS P2 – 2006, 2007, 2008

Risi Competizione (3) – ALMS GT2 – 2008, 2009; GTLM – 2016

AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (3) – ALMS PC – 2011; PC – 2015, 2016

CORE Autosport (2) – ALMS PC – 2012; GTLM/Overall – 2015

Tequila Patrón ESM (2) – ALMS GT – 2012; P/Overall – 2017

Wayne Taylor Racing (1) – P/Overall – 2014

Paul Miller Racing (1) – GTD – 2014

Action Express Racing (1) – P – 2015

Park Place Motorsports (1) – GTD – 2015

Meyer Shank Racing (1) – P/Overall – 2016

Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports – GTD – 2016

BMW Team RLL (1) – GTLM – 2017

Montaplast by Land Motorsport (1) – GTD – 2017

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Previous Motul Petit Le Mans Race-Winning Manufacturers in 2018 Field (8):

Porsche – 19

Audi – 11

Chevrolet – 10

Ferrari – 8

BMW – 2

Nissan – 1

Mazda – 1

Ford – 1

Meyer Shank Racing wins second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona to begin GTP era

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Grand Touring Prototype era began just as the previous one ended as Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura captured its second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona with star Tom Blomqvist emphatically starting and finishing the race.

The No. 60 ARX-06 won the 24-hour endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway by 4.190 seconds over Filipe Albuquerque of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, giving Acura a sweep of the top two spots.

The Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh cars took the next two spots with Renger van der Zande (the No. 01) and Earl Bamber (No. 02) as four of the nine new GTP cars finished on the lead lap within 12 seconds of each other and four more finished the race – quashing the prerace hand-wringing of mass failures for the highly technical cars in the debut of the hybrid prototype premier category.

“Amazed is the right word,” Honda Performance Development president David Salters said when asked about reliability. “These are sophisticated cars. It’s not easy. It’s a testament to each group that they did a really good job. It was a fight all the way through the race. I didn’t expect that at all.”

There were major problems for the manufacturer newcomers Porsche Penske Motorsport and BMW M Team RLL, whose two pairs of cars all finished at least a dozen laps down or more because of major mechanical problems in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

But there were no such failures for Acura despite the manufacturer skipping any endurance testing with the new LMDh car. Salters said his

It’s the third Rolex 24 at Daytona victory for co-owner Mike Shank, who won his first in 2012.

Just as he capped the 2022 season by winning the Petit Le Mans season finale in the No. 60 Acura to clinch the final championship of the DPi division for MSR, Blomqvist was behind the wheel again for his third overall victory in IMSA.

“That was crazy,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I knew we had a fantastic car. I’ve been working hard. Unbelievable. Massive, well done, everyone being part of this project and worked together on this project. What a car we’ve built.

“I was just a bit nervous. The 10 was definitely second fastest car, but we held them off.”

It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 victory for MSR’s trio of Blomqvist, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves, who were joined this year by Colin Braun (winning his first Rolex 24 overall).

Castroneves joined select company in winning the Rolex 24 in three consecutive years (his first win was with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021 — also in an Acura, which now has three consecutive Rolex 24s). Peter Gregg won the Rolex 24 in 1973, ’75 and ’76 (the 1974 race wasn’t held because of the oil crisis).

Castroneves and Pagenaud are entering their second consecutive year as teammates for Meyer Shank Racing’s Dallara-Hondas in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“Can you believe that?” Castroneves told Lee. “Big props to everyone. Everyone did an amazing job. Everybody worked so hard together. We got it! Another one. I can’t believe it. This is absolutely a dream come true.”

The four-time Indy 500 winner led the team in his signature fence-climbing celebration afterward — just as he had when he finished MSR’s victory in last year’s Rolex 24 and when he won the 2021 Indy 500 for the team.

“It’s always fun to climb the fence with Helio,” said Pagenaud, who drove the second-to-last stint before Blomqvist closed it out: “The competition as amazing. It was tough out there. So much fun. Hope you had as much fun as we had. I’m going to savor this one.”

Winners in other classes were the No. 55 ORECA 07 of Proton Competition (which triumphed on a last-lap pass by James Allen on Ben Hanley), WeatherTech Racing’s No. 79 Mercedes in GTD Pro, Heart of Racing’s No. 27 Aston Martin in GTD and AWA’s No. 17 in LMP3.