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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

IMSA Prototype Season in Review

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IMSA Wire Service

It was a year of change for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda. The longtime sprint series evolved in 2018 to six one-hour, 45-minute endurance races that allowed teams to run single or two-driver combinations with a required minimum-time pit stop. The result: record-high car counts in the LMP3 class with Kris Wright ultimately winning the series championship for Extreme Speed Motorsports, while Cameron Cassels took home the LMP3 Masters title. In the MPC class, meanwhile, series veteran Jon Brownson won his first championship in the final season for the class with a breakthrough win one week ago in the season finale at Road Atlanta.

This season-in-review takes a look back at the path each of the three champions took on their way to history.

1. Daytona International Speedway, January 6

Winners
LMP3: Roman De Angelis, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Gary Gibson, No. 44 Ave Motorsports Ave-Riley AR2
MPC: Robert Masson, No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
Not only was the season-opener during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 weekend the first endurance race for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, it also was the first race for the series at the iconic Daytona International Speedway. Wright, driving the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 scored his first podium of the season alongside co-driver Daniel Morad with a third-place finish behind Porsche GT3 Challenge driver and winner Roman De Angelis and co-drivers Austin McCusker and David Droux, finishing second for the upstart Forty7 Motorsports team. Masson scored the MPC win, lapping all but one car, while Brownson came home fifth.

2. Sebring International Raceway, March 16

Winners
LMP3: Leo Lamelas / Pato O’Ward, No. 7 Charles Wicht Racing Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: James McGuire Jr., No. 26 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Dave House, No. 86 ONE Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The round at Sebring featured a late-race restart that saw eventual 2018 Indy Lights champion and 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge champion O’Ward drive from fourth to first in the closing laps to secure the win for full-time driver Lamelas. Wright, meanwhile, finished third for the second consecutive time to start the season with a new co-driver, Michael Whelden. The No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports entry again finished second with McCusker now joined by TJ Fischer, who would go on to run the full season with the team. Coming out of Sebring, McCusker would lead Wright by four points, 64-60. Between Sebring and the next round at Barber Motorsports Park, Wright would decide to contest the full season for Extreme Speed Motorsports.

It was a special victory in the MPC class with House becoming IMSA’s oldest race winner at the age of 75. Foreshadowing a points race that what would ultimately come down to the season finale at Road Atlanta, the top five in the MPC standings are separated by two points leaving Sebring, with Brownson seventh, 12 points out, after a ninth-place finish.

3. Barber Motorsports Park, April 21

Winners
LMP3: Kris Wright / Yann Clairay, No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Rob Hodes, No. 51 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Michal Chlumecky, No. 31 Eurosport Racing Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The only standalone event for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda would prove to be the turning point in the LMP3 class. Leading all but one practice session on the weekend and starting the race from the pole, Wright and co-driver Clairay dominated the event, only losing the lead briefly on a cycle of green flag pit stops. Wright’s biggest competition for the championship, meanwhile, the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports team, seemed poised to score its third consecutive runner-up finish of the season to hold onto the LMP3 points lead, but contact between Fischer and an MPC car with five minutes remaining relegated the team to a 16th-place finish. Entering the weekend down four points in the standings, Wright left Barber up six points, 95-89, over Lamelas.

Chlumecky scored his first MPC class win since 2012, while teammate Brownson, the Sebring pole winner, capped off a Eurosport Racing 1-2 finish placing second in the team’s No. 34 entry. Masson rounded out the podium with a third-place finish in the No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02 to regain the class lead. Brownson left Barber eight points behind Masson, fifth in the standings.

4. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 8

Winners
LMP3: Austin McCusker / TJ Fischer, No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30
LMP3 Masters: Dean Baker, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Howard Jacobs / James French, No. 77 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The long overdue first victory for Forty7 Motorsports finally came at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for McCusker and Fischer, but a second-place finish for Wright meant McCusker could only gain three points on the series leader, with Wright keeping the deficit at 13 points. Dean Baker would score the LMP3 Masters win, the fourth winner in four races following Gibson at Daytona, McGuire Jr. at Sebring and Hodes at Barber. Cassels finished on the LMP3 Masters podium for the first time in 2018 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, finishing the race seventh overall and third in LMP3 Masters.

Leading the MPC standings coming into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Robert Masson enlisted son and defending series champion Kyle Masson as a co-driver for the remainder of the season. The plan appeared to work with the duo crossing the line first, but upon post-race analysis of drive-time requirements, it was concluded that Kyle Masson did not record the minimum 40 minutes of drive time and the car was moved to the back of the MPC results. That penalty elevated Jacobs and French to the race win in Performance Tech’s No. 77 entry and moved Brownson, who finished second for the consecutive race, to the class championship lead. Coming out of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the top six in points were separated by just two points with two races remaining.

5. VIRginia International Raceway, August 18

Winners
LMP3: Kris Wright / Stephen Simpson, No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Dean Baker, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Howard Jacobs / James French, No. 77 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
Wright enlisted IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship regular Stephen Simpson as co-driver at VIR and delivered a knockout punch in the LMP3 title fight, scoring the win and opening a 23-point lead over McCusker, who finished sixth. Baker would win his second consecutive race in LMP3 Masters with a second-place finish overall alongside Zacharie Robichon. Hodes would lead the LMP3 Masters points by two points over Jim Garrett, eight points over Cassels and nine points over Joel Janco.

Robert Masson seemed poised to take the points lead and win alongside Kyle Masson as the duo drove brilliantly in the rain, building a nearly one-lap lead. A mechanical issue with 17 minutes remaining, however, set up a late-race sprint to the finish with French winning on the last lap for Jacobs.

With only one race remaining, House moved into the class lead by three points, 143-140, over Jacobs. The top seven teams were mathematically eligible for the championship and separated by a mere eight points.

6. Road Atlanta, October 12

Winners
LMP3: Austin McCusker / TJ Fischer, No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30
LMP3 Masters: Cameron Cassels, No. 75 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Jon Brownson, No. 34 Eurosport Racing Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The second win of the season for the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports entry and co-driver McCusker and Fischer was not enough to take the championship away from Wright, who finished second at Road Atlanta to sweep podiums in all six races on the series schedule.

Cassels scored his first LMP3 Masters win of the season, and despite entering the weekend eight points behind in the standings, would also win the LMP3 Masters championship after each of the title contenders ran into various issues on-track.

Brownson called it an “honor” to win the final race for the MPC class. Brownson, who started in the first race for the series in 2006, scored his first win of the season in the No. 34 Eurosport Racing entry to win the final championship for the class.